The C3 Picasso is something of a Tardis, one of those cars that seems rather bigger on the inside than its external dimensions suggest.
Citroen has always been good at well-packaged, interestingly-designed ‘multi-purpose’ vehicles, and the C3 Picasso is a thoroughly likeable little car in that tradition. Its upright style and slightly oddball looks only seem to endear it to its fans. Shown for the first time at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the car was launched in 2009 and arrived on the UK car market that spring. Four years on, it was given a mid-life makeover to bring it up to date, the revised model made its debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, and it arrived in the UK for 2013. Changes include revised styling for the front end, LED running lights and a mild refresh for the cabin.
Citroen car design used to be famed for its quirkiness, and although some of that has been diluted in more recent models, there is still a strong spark of the French company’s design flair in some of its latest cars, particularly in its DS range. The C3 Picasso is one of Citroen’s main range models that has a quirky streak to it. The body is chunky with an upright stance and some distinctive sculpting. Designed by leading Citroen stylists Donato Coco and Jean-Pierre Ploue (acute accent on final e), it has been described as Bauhaus-inspired. The car’s chassis under-structure is basically the same as that used for the Citroen C3 hatchback and Peugeot 207.
The C3 Picasso is something of a Tardis, one of those cars that seems rather bigger on the inside than its external dimensions suggest. Although quite short in length, it is high-bodied to give a strong impression of space inside. It is French-designed, but not French-built. It is manufactured in a factory owned by the PSA Group (Peugeot-Citroen) in Trnava, Slovakia.
The choice of engine/transmission combinations available in this car are two petrol units and two diesels, with five or six-speed manual gearboxes or a six-speed electronic automated manual transmission that operates like an auto. The petrol engines are a 1.4 litre unit with a five-speed manual gearbox, a 1.6 manual or the same 1.6 unit with the automated manual box. The diesels are both 1.6 litres.
Our test car is the top model in the C3 Picasso range and has the higher-powered of the two diesels. It is a four-cylinder, eight-valve unit with a capacity of 1,560 cc and comes equipped with stop-start technology to avoid fuel wastage when the car is at a standstill. The engine’s power output is 113 bhp peaking at 3,600 rpm, and its maximum torque of 199 lb ft peaks at 1,750 rpm. The top speed is 114 mph and the benchmark 0-62 mph acceleration time is 11.2 seconds.
The C3 Picasso is a willing performer. The car feels quite lively through the gears and is a relaxed motorway cruiser. The six-speed manual box operates via a stubby gear lever at knee level. It has quite well-space ratios, but is not the smoothest for gear change quality, and feels a bit notchier than we would ideally like it to be.
The CO2 emissions output is 125 g/km, which puts this flagship C3 Picasso in band D for the annual road tax. Company car drivers will incur Benefit-in-kind liability at 19 per cent. The combined fuel figure is just under 60 mpg. This five-door, five-seater is not a particularly heavy car, weighing under one and a half tonnes (1,436 kg) but it has a reasonable towing capacity for its size, at 1,200 kg braked towing weight.