A Picasso? Looks more cute than Cubist…
Citroen’s always loved to think out of box, as the Cactus compact cross-hatch shows, and even its MPVs, like the C4 Picasso launched here last year in diesel guise prove as much.
The people mover, which comes in five-seat (non-Grand) and seven-seat (Grand, as driven here) versions, has always had a space age look and feel that’s refreshingly out of the box.
What’s new in art school then?
As we’ve seen with many Continental cars like the Renault Fluence, the switch to diesel power is an effort to keep final prices lower by slipping in under the Cat A power cap of 130bhp. It’s a tack that’s worked for Volkswagen and Volvo, amongst others.
That’s the reason the C4 Picasso debuted with a 114bhp diesel engine last year, but while it’s still a competent, attractive package overall, the sticking point is, as it is with so many Peugeot – Citroen products, the single-clutch automated manual gearbox.
It’s a real YMMV thing, that gearbox: some CarBuyer staffers would like to kill it with fire, personally I think it can be driven around if you’re not fussy, and it only adds to efficiency.
So if I just wanna close my eyes and hit the gas…
The petrol powered C4 Picasso shown here lets you do that for $15k more and with it comes the familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that makes a generous 165bhp and 240Nm of torque. Though you’d better keep your eyes open, since it smoothes out all the lurches you’d otherwise have to work around, and gives the car plenty more top end punch.
At the low end it doesn’t give much away to the diesel either, and completes the century sprint in a whole 2.3 seconds less. On that note, the brawny petrol doesn’t kill trees a huge much more than its diesel brethren on paper, at 5.6L/100km and 130g/km of C02, compared to 4.0L/100km and 105g/km, but you’ll have to work harder to be green in this one, obviously.
That sounds like a fair tradeoff. How’s everything else?
Kept intact are the Picasso’s elegant road manners too. It rides well, if with a little of the thumpiness cars meant to carry seven always seem to have. The handling is tidy and the steering tactile and light, while the huge acreage of glass lets everyone enjoy lots of light and the feeling of space.
Citroen’s driving screen layout is one of the better fully-digital driving displays around, there’s also a seven-inch infotainment display with the typical functions (nav, Bluetooth, car settings) although it still has a noticeable half-second lag.
The second row is spacious and gets tray tables and controllable AC blowers and sun shades, while third row has space typical of a small MPV – kids will be fine but adults may protest maltreatment even if they get their own cup holders and AC controls.
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All in all the Grand C4 Picasso remains a strong choice for seven seat MPV and this exactly reminds us why, as it’s better equipped, feels well made and packs more panache than a typical East Asian people-box.
The petrol’s key rival is, as usual, within the range: $15k might be a whole lot to some, and some will surely balk at the premium over the more efficient diesel asking why pay a near 10 percent premium for a smoother drive train you can get used to?
The answer is that at least now you have a choice and the petrol powered Picasso gives away very little to its diesel brother indeed.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Engine 1,598cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 165bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 240Nm at 1400rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 189km/h
0-100kmh 10.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.6L/100km
Price $160,988 with COE