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Citroen C3 Picasso 2009 Road Test

Tue, 31 Mar 2009

Prepare yourself for a rave review. The Citroen C3 Picasso is an astonishingly good car.

I was already aware of its practicality, from flipping the seats and photographing the interior at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the way it drives.

You sit in a slightly van-like position with the space around you accentuated by the bay window effect of the front screen.

The steering wheel adjusts in and out and up and down and never obscures the Citroen C4-like line-of-sight digital speedometer. Anyone from 4’ 10” to 6’ 7” can easily get comfortable.

Drive off and the first thing you notice is you’re not noticing any bumps. Ride quality is of the magic carpet variety from soft, long travel suspension. So I wasn’t expecting any fun on corners.

How wrong I was. The car turns in and glues itself to the road surface in an extraordinarily sure-footed manner. Thank the 195/55 R16 tyres and some very clever damping for that. It’s almost as if the wheels spring out on arms to push all the tyres down and keep them gripping as well as possible. I tested the car on a dry day, but this is the sort of behaviour that experience tells me would make the car very good in the wet.

Not a car for track days at race circuits where the roll angles would look hilarious. But absolutely brilliant on the speed-restricted, pot-holed and hump-infested crumbling tarmac that pass for roads in the UK these days.

It’s very convenient, too. Visibility is excellent. And somehow whacking it into reverse then turning the wheel to reverse-park becomes a single, fluid movement.

With the seats up, the load area behind them is a very useful 500 litres. With the seats flipped down (which takes no more than two seconds each) the load area extends to 1,506 litres, with a completely flat floor, a length of 1,670mm, and a width of 1,020mm at its narrowest. It has more loadspace than the Note, the Meriva and Renault Grand Modus. All this in a car just 13’ 2” long.

There’s more storage under the load deck floor. And, in the Exclusive version, footlockers under the rear passengers feet, plus a forward-folding passenger seat for accommodating long loads like stepladders and surfboards inside.

As well as the VTR+ with 90PS 1.6HDI diesel engine I tried the Exclusive 1.6HDI 110 with £200 optional ‘Black’ pack and 17” alloys. That’s not recommended. The C3 Picasso doesn’t need the 110PS motor, and even less the ‘Black’ pack 17” alloy wheels with lower profile tyres that give less steering feel, less grip and affect the otherwise excellent ride quality.

Citroen calls its C3 Picasso a “spacebox”, but that title alone does not do it justice.

It’s also very comfortable, rides extraordinarily well, handles brilliantly, goes well enough, sits in a sensible tax bracket and is enjoyable to drive.

Something to suit everyone. In a single car.


For prices, availability, specifications, powertrain details, dimensions, and performance figures please click the tabs.

More at www.citroen.co.uk

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