The new Citroen C4 Picasso is an MPV laden with all sorts of new technology. But is it still able to perform its fundamental role of carrying lots of people and their stuff?
Firstly, what’s the Technospace like?
There are really only three or four things you need from an MPV: wipe clean surfaces, easy access to the rear seats, a big boot and long range to avoid waking the little blighters up when they’re asleep.
For the designers of the Germanic-looking new C4 Picasso (the bootlid has clearly been nicked from a Q5), it must have been hard to come up with something new, having pretty much sorted all of those prosaic attributes with previous incarnations. Instead then, with this generation, Citroen has laden it with lots of technology, perhaps in a bid to make the lives of the adults trapped inside more bearable.
It comes with a dual full-digital dual screen driving interface, with 7” touchpad and 12” panoramic HD screen, a places for Apps such as weather forecasting and finding the nearest fuel station, spots on the screen to post your own pictures, active seatbelts, lights and cruise control, and it can park itself. Then you can change the graphics of the dials from round to square, and have a panoramic sunroof and massaging seats.
Such is the plethora of menus, buttons and screens though, that it takes a while to navigate your way around. Some touch sensitive buttons create shortcuts, but, for example, when you need to use steering wheel buttons, buttons on the little screen and also watch the big one too to set up the active cruise control, that’s too many steps.
What’s the C4 like at storing people?
Pretty good actually. There’s a lovely airy feel to the cabin, helped by it being the first car on the Group’s new EMP2 platform, which loses weight and frees up interior space. It’s 140kg lighter than its predecessor due to this new platform and the use of aluminium and composites.
The side windows are low enough to allow occupants a view out and lots of rear legroom to grow into as well. It also has the biggest boot in class at 537-litres, although the sliding rear seats aren’t the easiest to tumble flat, as they require some awkward tugging at webbing to elicit any response. A seven seat Grand version will go on sale early next year.
There’s an option for front seat passengers to have a footrest and rear seat ones to have tables and little lights, and headrest that have wings on them, so they actually work as somewhere to rest your head. All very handy.
How is it to drive?
We had a go in the e-HDi 115 with six speed manual, and it’s no ball of fire, having just enough shove to keep it respectable, but no more. But it is very refined and efficient and the gearbox is more precise than previous PSA Group offerings.
On 18 inch wheels, the ride is too pattery, but is markedly better on 17s. Through a corner? Forget it. It rolls and wallows and the steering is light and uninformative. Citroen clearly hasn’t remotely bothered to try and compete with Ford on this front, probably because hardly anyone who buys these things could care less how it handles.
Despite all the talk of fancy new technology to brighten its occupants days, the Citroen C4 Picasso is better at its more important job: providing spacious, comfortable, efficient motoring to groups of people. And that’s no bad thing to be good at.