Review: Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017)


Decent practical upright car. Roomy in the back. Good load capacity. Drives and rides well. Excellent ingress and egress. Panoramic front screen with no blindspots. New 1.2 Puretech petrol engine.

Automatic originally only an automated manual. Avoid repeated short runs from cold with diesel versions. Obviously not sporty.

Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017): At A Glance

It might be tall and upright, but the C3 Picasso is far from drab. Compared to something like a Berlingo Multispace or a Peugeot Bipper Tepee it’s positively handsome, but it’s also very family friendly, with plenty of space on offer. The cabin is just as interesting as the exterior, with an attractive dashboard design and a comfortable, upright driving position offering a good view out.

Passengers will find the back row spacious even if they’re tall and the load area is generous too. There’s a double boot floor, with a minimum load space of 385 litres, expandable to 500 litres if you drop the floor down. Exclusive models are even more capable thanks to a flip forward front passenger seat – so you can carry long items like skis.

The C3 Picasso has been set up for comfort rather than handling prowess, with light controls and soft suspension. Potholes and speed bumps are well dealt with while town driving and parking are easy thanks to light steering and surprisingly compact dimensions. But the C3 Picasso isn't perfect. Out on a twisting country road the comfortable suspension means noticeable of body roll and the light steering stops being such a blessing.

The engine range consists of two petrol and two diesel choices. The petrol engines produce either 95PS or 120PS, but neither is particularly good on the emissions front, with CO2 outputs of 145g/km or 149g/km respectively. A better bet is one of the 1.6-litre HDi diesels – 90PS or 115PS options are available, with the former a perfectly decent choice thanks to a good torque output, low emissions of 107g/km and official economy of 68.9mpg.

With its interesting looks and a good level of gear on all but the entry level VT model, the Citroen C3 Picasso holds a lot of appeal. It might not be the most exciting car on sale, but as practical family transport with a touch of pizzazz it’s pretty hard to fault. The Ford B-MAX is better to drive and the van-based Peugeot Bipper Tepee is more practical, but as an all rounder the C3 Picasso has all the right ingredients. 

Citroen C3 Picasso 2009 Road Test

What does a Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017) cost?

Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4078 mm
Width 1730–2050 mm
Height 1624–1670 mm
Wheelbase 2540 mm

Full specifications

The tall, boxy exterior of the C3 Picasso gives way to a roomy, spacious cabin with some neat, family friendly features. Up front there’s a stylish, clear centre console with instruments mounted right between the driver and passenger. The speed readout is huge, while the gear lever is mounted high and close to hand. It’s effortlessly comfortable and easy to get to grips with.

Space is good – the back row of seats will easily accommodate adults, while the boot is easily capable of swallowing all the accoutrements a family will need for a day out. The total volume is 385 litres, but if you need more space then you can drop the floor, expanding capacity to 500 litres, or fold the middle row of seats, giving 1506 litres. You can even fold the front passenger seat down in top Exclusive models - useful if you’ve got planks of wood or pipes to carry for DIY. 

Not only is the C3 Picasso practical but it’s also well built. The plastics used are good quality, with soft touch materials on the dashboard, nicely trimmed seats, plus little metallic embellishments to lift the ambience and give the cabin some character. It’s not perfect though – there are some irritating oversights and issues, including a pointlessly small glove compartment and an optional, confusing infotainment system that’s tricky to operate.

There are three trim levels – entry level VT, along with VTR+ and Exclusive. Entry models miss out on some important equipment, including air conditioning. Moving up to VTR+ is a good idea - it gains you alloy wheels, air conditioning plus cruise control and extra airbags – especially worth considering if you have children to carry.

Standard equipment:

VT models come with ABS, EBD, EBA, driver and passenger front airbag, remote central locking, steering mounted audio controls, auxiliary audio socket, adjustable boot floor, split-folding rear seats, panoramic windscreen, front electric windows, 12V socket and 15-inch steel wheels.

VTR+ models gain air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, side airbags, curtain airbags, front fog lights, LED running lights, Bluetooth and USB connection, three rear headrests, 16-inch alloy wheels and VTR+ exterior styling.

Exclusive is the top trim level and gains digital, dual zone climate control, a leather steering wheel, shiny black centre console, auto wipers, auto lights, auto dimming rear view mirror, child surveillance mirror, folding front passenger seat, tray tables for the back row, rear window blinds, a boot net and boot torch, rear parking sensors, rear electric windows, roof bars plus heated, folding door mirrors.

Child seats that fit a Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017) like to drive?

The Citroen C3 Picasso is designed as an easy car to drive. The tall, upright cabin has a large glass area, meaning good visibility, helped by decent mirrors. The gear lever is mounted high up, within easy reach, and the steering wheel has plenty of adjustment. Add in a big speedo and the C3 Picasso feels made for relaxed driving.

The suspension is soft and gives good ride quality over lumps, bumps and potholes while the steering is light and the gear change precise. For town driving or motorways it’s excellent, but the suspension does make for noticeable body roll through tighter twists and turns. Reassuringly there is plenty of grip and the handling is safe and predictable.

Four engines are offered – two petrol and two diesel. The entry level engine is a 1.4-litre VTi petrol with 95PS. It’s powerful enough, but it’s not particularly frugal and emissions are high – official figures are 44.8mpg and 145g/km. The more powerful petrol engine, a 1.6-litre VTi with 120PS, offers similar economy and emissions at 44.1mpg and 149g/km, but with more torque and more power.

Those who need an automatic transmission are limited to the 120PS VTi petrol, but it's not a true automatic. Instead it's an automated manual, which is slow and jerky when changing gear and isn't as reliable as a traditional torque convertor or modern dual-clutch system. It will do the job if you absolutely need an auto, but it's not recommended if you're choosing an auto as a luxury. 

For low running costs you’ll need one of the diesels. A 1.6-litre HDi is the only option, but there are two power outputs – 90PS and 115PS. Both are a little clattery at idle, but on the move they quieten down and offer useful torque – you can leave the car in a gear to accelerate or overtake, which suits the relaxed character of the car.

The 90PS HDi diesel produces a useful 230Nm of torque from 1750rpm and has low emissions at 107g/km. That means cheap annual VED and, with official economy of 68.9mpg, fuel costs should be low. The range-topping 115PS diesel produces a little more torque than the 90PS engine, but it’s probably not worth the extra unless you regularly carry a full car on long journeys.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.2 Puretech 44–57 mpg 11.8 s 115 g/km
1.4 VTi 44–45 mpg 12.2 s 145–149 g/km
1.6 BlueHDi 61–72 mpg 13.3 s 101 g/km
1.6 HDi 61–69 mpg 13.5–13.7 s 107–119 g/km
1.6 HDi 110 58–59 mpg 11.2–12.4 s 125–129 g/km
1.6 HDi 115 61 mpg 11.2 s 119 g/km
1.6 VTi 41–44 mpg 10.9 s 149 g/km
1.6 VTi EGS6 47 mpg 11.5 s 137 g/km

Real MPG average for a Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

27–67 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 – 2017)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I'm replacing my Renault Grand Modus soon - is it smart to stick with a diesel or swap to an electric car?

I've owned a Renault Grand Modus for the last 7years. I Iike the car very much, but it's showing it's age. I have £7000 - £10,000 to spend on a used car and I have been offered £1000 for my Modus against a 2016 diesel Renault Scenic, £700 for a 2016 diesel Citroen C3 Picasso and £500-£700 against a 2013 Renault Zoe. I cannot decide which car to buy. My heart says go for the Renault Zoe for the environment, but with the Zoe, it would be the early models with a range of only 100 miles. On the other hand, I could stick to a diesel - which I'm used to. I would appreciate your advice in helping two old codgers (late 70's) who enjoy driving.
It depends on the mileage you do, really. If you mainly do short journeys around town and can charge at home, a Zoe would work a lot better than a diesel. It won't be as practical as the other cars you're looking at, though. I'd avoid a diesel unless you cover high motorway miles. As an alternative, I'd suggest a petrol Honda Jazz. It's very versatile, reliable and cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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