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Citroen C4 Picasso 2007 review

Nothing abstract about the Citroen C4 Picasso, however, just lots of clever design. For starters, it is the size of a medium sedan, but has seven seats.

And while hauling all those people around, it won't break the budget because there is a fuel-saving diesel option.

Early people-movers were little more than delivery vans with seats; this one is based on a high-class car — Citroen's C4 hatchback — lengthened, widened, made taller and given a bigger luggage compartment plus a new-design rear axle to cope with greater loads.

Its engines and transmissions have come from the dearer, larger C5 sedan, so progress is smooth and refined.

But inside and out it looks like nothing else. The shape is avant-garde, but is more practical than a Picasso-like oddity. It provides a panoramic view, loads of room, endless ways to configure the three rows of seats and so many cubbyholes owners may forget where they stowed half the groceries.

The massive windscreen — $1100 for a new one — extends so far back, and at such a rakish angle, it ends almost above the driver's head.

Sunlight floods in but the designers have provided large two-stage visors that fold down to provide shade, and the glass has a metallic coating to cut down heat.

Even if things did become sweaty, there is a perfume dispenser (including a tobacco-neutralising fragrance) as part of the airconditioning system that has controls for each corner of the car. Temperature and air volume can be different in each zone.

In the best Citroen tradition, the Picasso is a far-from-everyday design.

Its automatic transmission selector is a thin wand on the right-hand side of the steering column; the driver's airconditioning controls also are on the right-hand side of the dashboard; there is no handbrake (engage Park and it figures, correctly, that the parking brake should be applied; press on the accelerator and the brake automatically disengages).

A small, high-mounted mirror lets the driver see what children are up to in the back seats.

You find a detachable torch in the tailgate, a fridge in the dashboard, picnic tables behind the front seats, storage lockers under the floor, sun blinds on the rear side windows.

The instrument panel sits high on the dashboard between driver and passenger; unusual but you soon become used to it. The driver can change the colour of the display, ranging from deep blue to white on black.

The third row of seats, two separate buckets, is a place best left for the young, small and agile. If the seats are not needed, a one-handed operation can fold them away, creating a vast luggage area.

No wonder Citroen says the Picasso “redefines the family car for the 21st century”, but Australia could prove a tough nut to crack.

In Europe, such cars make sense for their convenience and tax advantages; here the competition is tougher because there are reasonably priced multi-seat SUVs with oodles of space inside and relatively uncrowded roads to accommodate them.

While sales of compact people-movers have trebled in Europe in the past decade, they have failed to catch on in Australia. For example, Holden has dropped the similar-concept Zafira.

However, fuel prices make the diesel Picasso a compelling case.

Citroen expects 80 per cent of Picasso buyers will opt for the diesel, though it costs $5000 more than its petrol sibling (a more advanced automatic transmission and high-cost diesel engine explain the higher price).

The diesel would reduce fuel bills with its economy rating of 6.1 litres per 100km, compared with 8.9 litres for the petrol engine.

The diesel has almost identical acceleration to its petrol counterpart, while its superior transmission and mountain of torque, or pulling power, make it the logical way to go.

On the downside, the Picasso's ride-steering package, usually a major plus with French cars, is hardly a work of art. The ride can get bouncy on poor roads and the steering lacks feedback.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

(base) 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,200 – 11,110 2007 Citroen C4 Picasso 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs
Exclusive HDi 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $9,100 – 13,640 2007 Citroen C4 Picasso 2007 Exclusive HDi Pricing and Specs
HDi 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $6,000 – 9,350 2007 Citroen C4 Picasso 2007 HDi Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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