Review: Citroen C4 Picasso

A great car for a young family

06 Jan 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Good economy

  • Comfortable and spacious

  • Very safe car

Cons

  • Basic versions poorly equipped

  • Expensive servicing costs

  • Ride can feel unsettled

Our expert rating

The C4 Picasso is a French-made multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), available as a five-seater. The larger, seven-seat, version is called Grand C4 Picasso. The model was first introduced in 2006 and a decade later is still popular for its good value for money.

Performance

The Picasso is effective around town in lower gears, but slightly asthmatic on motorway inclines. But this is a people carrier and performance isn’t exactly what they are designed for.

The diesels are the best as they are fuel-efficient, but if you don’t do many miles then a petrol is cheaper to buy. A petrol powered Picasso will return an average real-world figure of 35mpg.

Indeed, there is a wide choice of engines – all are modern and refined. The best diesel Citroen C4 Picasso performance comes from the top engine - the 2.0-litre HDi 150 - but the most economical is the e-HDi 90 Airdream diesel from 2013. With a semi-auto gearbox it can average 74mpg and emits an impressive 98g/km of CO2. This means it won’t cost you anything to tax.

Rear of Citroen C4 Picasso

Ride and handling

All Picassos ride well and comfort is helped further by soft seats. Road and wind noise are well contained, making the Picasso a very quiet car at motorway speeds. It is not exactly a ‘driver’s car’, because it does list and roll around corners.

However, the undemanding six-speed manual gearbox and efficient, if rather leisurely, engines make driving uncomplicated. The steering is nicely weighted and the car feels composed at normal road speeds.

It also has an excellent turning circle which means chucking a U-turn is easy (this isn't the case with the Grand C4 however). On the safety front, a top five star safety rating by Euro NCAP makes the Citroën C4 Picasso a secure place for you and your family.

Interior of Citroen C4 picasso

Interior space

The C4 Picasso is a civilized 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 extended flexibility.

There are also well-located storage areas around the cabin, including USB ports and 220V sockets – ideal for stowing devices whilst charging. Indeed, the interior is very cool, with an ambience that includes a panoramic windscreen and an uncluttered console.

There are three ISOFIX child seat fittings on the second row of seats and an extra mirror is integrated into the main rear view mirror to help you keep an eye on the kids in the back.

Boot space is a big 537 litres and the height of the boot floor can be adjusted to help with carrying taller items. On C4 Picassos from 2013 onwards there is a range of clever innovations that make driving easier and more enjoyable.

For instance, the ‘Exclusive 115 Airdream’ model is a great buy if your spatial awareness isn’t good, because it comes with four cameras. These give a complete view of your environment, enabling an extensive field of vision for easier manoeuvres.

Park Assist is another valuable aid. This provides 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.

Boot space of Citroen C4 Picasso

What to know before you buy

The 2013 onwards Picasso seems to have no real issues. However, on the older models from 2007-2013 you need to check interior build quality. This is a car that will have had a young family crawling all over it, so look out for trim working loose or breaking, as well as seat fabrics that haven’t worn well.

Also, automatic gearboxes have been known to be a bit jerky, but a software upgrade fixed this issue on most, if not all cars, making the automatic gearbox smoother to use.

The Picasso also costs more to service than challengers such as the Ford C-Max, but you should be able to slash your bills if you shop around reputable garages for the best prices.

Back of Citroen C4 picasso

Alternative cars

All the rivals have good safety, but the Ford C-Max is more involving to drive and it has a bigger load area. It has a 666 litre boot compared with the C4’s 537 litres. This could make all the difference when loading in your extra shopping bags around your tot’s buggy – or if you need to give your friend, along with her child’s paraphernalia, a lift to the nursery.

The Renault Scenic from 2009 is worth a gander, too. This is cheaper to buy but falls down in the boot department. The Scenic only has 437 litres of space – just slightly better than another possible contender – the Mazda 5, which has 426 litres of room behind the rear seats.

All these cars are family oriented and good in terms of drivability, but the Citroën trounces them all when it comes to load lugging.

Alternative car to Citroen C4 Picasso - Ford C-Max

Overall verdict

The C4 from 2013 is the best Picasso to go for because it’s massively better in terms of looks and quality. The economy on all Picassos, especially the ones with diesel power, is good, and all are comfortable and spacious. This is a great car for a young family – and a very safe one at that.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall