With this effort, Citroen hopes it'll inject some passion and verve into minivans, but is the C3 Picasso as creative or as tech-rich as Citroen would have us believe?
It's certainly attractive. Whereas the previous C3 Picasso looked as if it fell out of the meh tree and grazed itself slightly on every branch on the way down, this model stirs something in our loins. It's boxy yet curvaceous and has plenty of intricate detailing, so there's always something interesting to see no matter where you look. We're no art experts, but we're pretty sure Citroen's designers borrowed a little inspiration from the real Picasso's Cubist movement.
Once inside, we made a beeline for the audio entertainment system. This consists of a dash-mounted CD player that reads regular audio discs, plus data discs containing MP3 files. You also get a line-in port, which let you connect your audio player to the speakers via a cable, plus a USB port. You simply put MP3 tracks on to a memory key, plug it in, and the system plays the audio through the C3 Picasso's six speakers. Sound quality was fairly lacklustre, but that's par for the course in this class of car.
Out with the analogue
Citroen has done away with analogue instruments. On the centre of the dashboard, you'll find three digital displays -- one for telling you the status of critical components, one for the audio playback systems, and another for the digital speedometer, rev counter and fuel gauge. We particularly like the speedo: it's clear and mounted in an area close to the driver's natural line of sight. The other two screens are less impressive -- they're not particularly readable, and that could prove dangerous while the vehicle is in motion.
Citroen's got it right with the exterior tech. The C3 Picasso includes reverse parking sensors on the rear, which cause the speakers to beep if an object is detected, windscreen wipers that switch on automatically when it rains, lights that come on automatically when it's dark, a temperature sensor that warns you if there is there's any chance of black ice on the road, and a particle filter that stops airborne filth getting into your lungs. Citroen also says it will offer its MyView sat-nav system on the C3 Picasso, but this wasn't fitted to the pre-production cars we tested.
You know, like a box of space
Citroen casually refers to the C3 Picasso as the SpaceBox, and we can see why -- almost every spare inch of the vehicle has been fitted with some form of storage compartment. There's a pull-out tray under the passenger seat, two glove compartments, nooks for your loose change, crannies for your bits and flapdoodles to keep your chewing gum in. The most impressive storage comparment of all is the boot. This is big enough to accomodate an impressive 500 litres of luggage, and if you fold the rear seats down, that triples to 1,500 litres -- enough for half of Ikea.
The C3 Picasso comes with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines, none of which really set the world on fire (in either way). The 1.6 HDi 110hp is arguably the best of the lot, as it's smooth, powerful enough for day-to-day driving, relatively quiet at speed, and emits just 130g/km of carbon dioxide.
On the whole, we think it's a fabulous effort on Citroen's part. The company plans to release a model every three months for the next two years, and if those are anything like the C3 Picasso, we should be in for a treat.
Edited by Nick Hide