Despite a complicated control panel, the Citroën C4 Picasso is a good-looking and secure family vehicle, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.
All cars have lights, wipers, a heater and so forth, but the switches that operate them may be located in different places.
As a motoring journalist you tend to get used to the variation and adapt to each test car easily.
But that wasn't the case when I took delivery of the new Citroën C4 Picasso.
Don't get me wrong, the latest C4 is a handsome devil.
The assertive front end features daytime-running lights positioned just above the headlamps, while rear LED lights create a futuristic 3D effect.
The interior is just as cool, with an ambience that includes a panoramic windscreen and a seemingly uncluttered console.
The whole package is impressive – until you start the engine and a full digital driving interface, plonked in the middle of the asymmetric dashboard, illuminates.
I suspect the French automaker thought the clean look would work. Unfortunately, it doesn't.
Complicated control panel
To my mind, a car's instrument panel is a communication device that relays important pieces of information to you simply.
The Citroën's is far from straightforward.
The switchgear is overcomplicated, so much so that it took me five minutes to work out how to turn the heater up.
The reason for this is that nearly everything is on the central touch-screen display, so it's a bit like having an iPad stuck in front of you.
The trouble is it's not as intuitive to use as a tablet device.
12-inch panoramic screen
The standard seven-inch touchpad features seven touch-sensitive buttons.
And it controls all the in-car functions such as dual-zone air conditioning, navigation, audio, telephone and driving aids.
Then there's a 12-inch panoramic high-definition screen that displays essential information.
This can be configured at any time to show data for either the navigation system or driving aids.
A personal photo can even be exhibited using a USB as a screen backdrop. It's way too much to take in. Give me clear-cut German switchgear any day.
That aside, the fresh C4 Picasso features a range of clever innovations that make driving easier and more enjoyable.
For instance, my test car in high-end "Exclusive 115 Airdream" guise came equipped with four cameras.
These give a complete view of your immediate environment, enabling an extended field of vision for easier manoeuvres.
Park Assist is another valuable aid. This provides automatic support when squeezing into a space, whether parking in reverse or at an angle.
All you have to do is to manage acceleration and braking.
Secure family car
Of course, being a family focused car, the new C4 Picasso is a civilised motor when it comes to room.
The front passenger seat folds forwards to increase load space and rear passengers benefit from three individual, full size seats.
These can be folded flat or tilted for increased comfort, or fore-and-aft adjusted for increased flexibility.
There are also well-located storage areas around the cabin including USB ports and 220V sockets – ideal for stowing devices while charging.
With a top five star safety rating, the Citroën C4 is a secure place for you and your family.
It’s not exactly a "driver's" car, but the undemanding six-speed manual gearbox and efficient, if rather leisurely, 1560 cc turbo diesel engine make driving uncomplicated – unlike the Picasso's control panel.
Citroën C4 Picasso: Pros & Cons
- Handsome √
- Spacious √
- Efficient √
- Visibility √
- Instrumentation / switchgear X
Citroën C4 Picasso: Fast facts
- Max speed: 117 mph
- 0-62 mph: 11.8 secs
- Combined mpg: 70.6
- Engine: 1560cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 115 at 3600 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 199 at 1750 rpm
- CO2: 105 g/km
- Price: £21,555