But don’t let its quirky looks fool you, underneath that opinion-dividing exterior is a car that gets the job done and grew on my family quite considerably. Both my wife and daughters declared that they liked the Picasso.
So while I might get all motoring journalist and frown on the looks of the Picasso or the idea of a compact MPV being any better than a full-size sedan, it is important to see things through another person’s eyes in order to understand why families love their MPVs and buy them.
There are only two derivatives of the C4 Picasso in South Africa at the moment – the Seduction and the top of the range Intensive. We had the R345 900 Intensive on test. Both are powered by a 1.6 litre e-HDi 115 turbodiesel engine developing 85kW of power and 270Nm of torque via a six-speed manual transmission.
The engine was mostly up to the task of moving the Picasso but, as is the case with smaller capacity turbodiesels, drop under
1 600rpm and turbo lag intervenes and nothing really happens. Keep it above this mark and the compact MPV stays impressively on the boil.
I do wish, though, that as this is a family car, an auto transmission was an option. In my opinion, this option would be better suited to the daily, easygoing nature of the C4.
Peugeot SA claim a top speed of 189km/h and 11.8 seconds for the 0-100km sprint, which is largely academic with a car like this and I did not test it. They also claim a combined fuel consumption of just 4.0 litres per 100km. This number is not very realistic and we returned a respectable figure of 5.6 litres per 100km with quite a lot of freeway driving.
I made liberal use of the active- type speed cruise that monitors the traffic ahead and slows you down when approaching another vehicle from the rear to help achieve this number. However, I am not sure if it was because I did not understand exactly how everything works in the Picasso, but for some reason this function would sometimes slow the car down and at other times it would continue to accelerate or maintain the chosen speed and close down on the car in front, then pause itself and stop functioning, leaving you to intervene.
The new C4 Picasso is comfortable and roomy inside, with the seats of the exclusive Lounge Pack offering a massage and a seat-warming function along with Relax headrests doing the business. Perhaps now you understand why I think an auto would be a good idea. This MPV is geared towards relaxed driving and not changing gears all the time.
There is a clean-looking facia with few knobs and controls and a multipurpose seven-inch touch screen standard in the centre of the dashboard or a 12-inch optional panoramic HD screen that takes care of all your in-car needs from aircon to Sat Nav, phone and radio, etc. Only one drawback here: once the sun hits the screen directly you can’t see a thing that is being displayed.
The Picasso also offered front park assist and the park assist system for easy parallel parking, storage spaces all over the show, five individual seats, electronic handbrake with hill-start assist, automatic on-off for the headlamps and windscreen wipers. Sliding driver’s and passenger’s sun blinds with sun visors and courtesy mirrors, a “find my car” feature with illumination by means of the interior lights, flashing hazard warning lights, a “guide me home” headlamp function and a tailgate that can be opened remotely by the press of a button. As one would expect from Citroën, there is a vast array of standard safety and security equipment, including ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), emergency braking assistance (EBA), electronic stability control (ESC) with intelligent traction control; automatic activation of the hazard warning lights, six air bags and a deflated tyre indicator.