Every car enthusiast fears the day when he/she will have a large family and ultimately will have to drive the dreaded MPV. A brick-shaped car with tiny wheels, large spongy seats and the occasional smell of baby puke coming from the back seats. Who’d like to be seen driving such a thing? Well, there’s hope for you, as the second generation Citroen C4 Picasso is here to at least make you look like the most stylish mom or dad around because this thing redefines the segment.
The Picasso nameplate came around in 1999, when Citroen introduced the brand new Xsara Picasso, and even back then the car was quite an odd thing to drive.
An egg-shaped vehicle with five individual seats, more windows than a cable-car, folding tables for the rear passengers and a digital instrument cluster sitting in the middle and on top of a dashboard the size of a bar counter. Kind of ugly-looking for your average Joe, but very stylish for someone who knows a thing or two about design and fashion.
It pretty much remained like that up until 2007, when it got completely overhauled and rebadged as a C4 Picasso. It also received a sharper design and more technology. Then, in 2013, it got changed again to put it in line with Citroen’s latest design language and in 2015 it received more tech and upgraded engines.
The original egg shape got squared a bit, but the 2016 Citroen C4 Picasso still manages to turn heads with its alien(ish) design.
The front of the car is dominated by a large hexagonal lower grille and two chromed lines sticking out from the chevron badge towards the corners, along with two LED strips on each side acting both as daytime running lights and indicators. Another interesting thing to note here is the large panoramic windscreen, which arches up over the head of the front row passengers, a carryover from the previous generation.
On the sides, the new C4 Picasso still has four individual windows to offer excellent visibility. A chromed C-shaped element embraces them from the D-pillar onwards while a deep carving in the doors and intricately-cut alloy rims provide a more refined and modern look.
Arriving at the rear section, you’ll notice the exhaust is hidden away, not to mess with the smooth lines, and that there’s a massive hatch with a very low loading area, perfect for large boxes and heavy things. LED taillights are offered on high-end trim levels and, thanks to their unique geometry, their tiny little dots appear to be repeating infinitely.
All in all, the new Citroen C4 Picasso looks modern and high-tech, despite its moderate price as you’ll see later. And all this new-age design is even better on the inside, where you’ll spend most of the time.
Somehow, the French designers made sure the driver feels like commanding a futuristic airship instead of a family car. As soon as you step in, you’re welcomed by an asymmetric dashboard with lines that are being smoothly continued onto the door cards, embracing and making you feel snug and secure. The driving position is comfortable and the view is almost unrestricted thanks to the huge windshield and very thin A-pillars. There’s even a smaller, curved rearview mirror on top of the standard one to keep an eye on the kids in the back or to have a glance at other cars near yours.
Then you got the massive 12-inch TFT display on the top of the dashboard, which shows you key parameters and functions in clear, sharp graphics and is also customizable, having three layouts and even wallpapers to choose from. A smaller touchscreen display sits lower on the dash, within hand reach, and allows control over functions like air conditioning, infotainment and driver assist systems.
The steering wheel is another air-ship-feel inducing element by having its bottom flatten while also being decorated with polished chrome inserts on each side. It also comes with shortcut buttons for the radio, cruise control, and phone connectivity, all being nicely designed, flat and having a touch-friendly texture.
Rear passengers will also feel like flying business class thanks to generous leg room, separate air vents, individual reclining seats, a perfectly flat floor and trays folding down from the rear seats. I doubt your kids will feel spoiled by that, but at least, they have a place to put their tablets or whatever tech gizmos they play with nowadays.
Speaking of storage space, remember the previous model with the dashboard having two top lids that shielded extra room for your stuff to go in? Well, thanks to the asymmetry here they are gone and you only get a small glovebox, which is even smaller on the right-hand drive models because the engineers were too lazy to replace the fuse box over to the other side.
To somehow compensate this, there’s a small lid on the center under the dash, guarding all the connectivity ports and another cubby hole. Once folded down to reveal the storage compartment, the actual cover is soft padded and even has a rectangular indent in it so you can place your phone there.
The door storage space is suitable for small bottles, and the hidden trap compartments under the front seats and those in the floor under the rear occupants’ feet are still on the menu, thankfully. An extra storage compartment is located in the center console between the front seats, and is surprisingly big. You could easily store a suppressed MAC 10 and two ammo clips in there if the car would be sold in the U.S.
The seats wear a modern design, are comfortable on the long run and offer decent side support.
The front ones come with individually adjustable armrests, internal heating and even massage on high trim levels.
Further at the back, the trunk floor is flush with the loading edge making it easy to put your luggage and bulky stuff in. It offers 537 liters (19 cu ft) of useful space which could be extended to 630 liters (22,2 cu ft) if the rear seats are pushed forward, or up to 1,709 (60,3 cu ft) if you fold them down and form a flat floor. All these say the C4 Picasso is the most spacious in its class, even with all the seats in place.
With a 5-star Euro NCAP rating safety wasn’t left aside and the 2016 C4 Picasso comes with a lot of features. Six airbags, three ISOFIX
seats, ventilated disc brakes on all corners, ABS
, emergency braking assist, Electronic Stability System and traction control to name only a few.
Moving on to the oily bits, the second-generation Citroen C4 Picasso is built on the PSA EMP2 platform, which makes it a lot lighter through extensive use of very high strength steel, aluminum, magnesium alloys and composite materials. In fact, the car weights a bit less than the smaller C3 Picasso.
Tipping the scales at only 1,280 kg (2,822 lbs) in standard form, the car does indeed feel light driving around. With an electrically-assisted power steering and smaller turning circle compared to previous models, the new Picasso also feels maneuverable, especially in crowded cities. Parking is easy thanks to the excellent visibility and on higher trim levels you also get a rear-view camera and even park-assist which do its job pretty well.
Our tester was the top trim level (minus some optional features) powered by a 115 HP
diesel unit bolted to a 6-speed manual gearbox, which is an optimal choice for daily driving. Thanks to the 270 Nm (199 lb-ft) of twist, the engine pulls smoothly, and you get from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under 12 seconds.
The shifter feels quite precise but most of the times I stumbled upon a clunk when throwing from first to second gear as a reminder this is French engineering after all. The clutch, on the other hand, works like a charm and is very easy to modulate and not jerk the car each time you start from a stand still.
Driving on twisty secondary roads is a pleasure thanks to the fantastic view of the scenery you get from all those windows.
The suspension is a bit on the hard side but still does well in absorbing small road irregularities and keep body roll to a minimum for this kind of vehicle.
The steering feel stiffens the faster you go but doesn’t provide much info on what’s happening with the wheels, and you should expect the car to understeer if pushed a bit more around a corner. All of which are normal for an MPV
so nothing to worry about. I can’t picture myself a dad taking a C4 Picasso on track days anyway...
Citroen says the average fuel consumption for this model is 3.9 l/100 km (60.3 mpg). In the real world, we got 5.7 l/100 km (41.2 mpg) with the air conditioning on. The other figures we got were 6.1 l/100 km (38.6 mpg) in the city, 6.2 l/100 km (37.9 mpg) on the highway doing the speed limit and 4.1 l/100 km (57.4 mpg) on country lanes.
Depending on where you live, you can get the new Citroen C4 Picasso in up to four or five trim levels.
The most basic one starts at €21,640, for which you get 16-inch steel rims with plastic hubcaps, LED daytime running lights, electrically operated mirrors and windows, cruise control and speed limiter, push-start button, electric parking brake, air conditioning, the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with 6 speakers and multiple connectivity, tire pressure monitoring and Hill Start Assist.
The mid-range trim level is priced around €24,200 to €26.390 and adds automatic headlights and wipers, the massive 12-inch TFT display, dual-zone automatic climate control, folding rear trays, rear parking sensors, the additional rearview mirror and rear sun blinds, leather wrapped steering wheel, adjustable rear seats, 16-inch alloy rims, and fog lights.
Ticking all the boxes will get you the park assist system, active safety, electrically operated tailgate, keyless entry system, steering-linked bi-xenon headlights, electrochromic interior rearview mirror, blind spot assist, LED interior illumination, electrically adjustable front seats with lower leg support, heating and massage functions as well as 17-inch alloy rims. But for all of these you’ll need to fork up to €31,300.
As far as we can tell, a medium-ranged C4 Picasso with a few options represents the best choice to go with, especially if you’re inclined more towards style and fashion. Choose a nice color like Ruby Red Metallic or Teles Blue out of the catalog and it will become an instant head-turner.
Looking at the competition in this segment we can conclude that the 2016 Citroen C4 Picasso is the most accessible and better-looking model for now. The only real threat in the funky-looking mid-size MPV range is represented by the all-new Renault Scenic, but at the moment of writing the automaker hasn’t released the model’s specs and pricing.