But MPVs? Err, they are not really my scene. Or so I thought…
The fact is, the Picasso has been responsible for a gargantuan ‘U-turn’ by yours-truly. Over the past few months I’ve been won over by a growing number of things – the Picasso’s load-busting abilities, general versatility and its composure over broken blacktop you’ll already know about from my previous report. To that add charm and quirkiness. But the Picasso also exudes a ‘classless’ air about it. Similar, I guess, to a Polo or a Fabia or Golf. And I like that in a car.
The Picasso has been steadily – and faultlessly – racking up the miles, reaching 10,200 at the time of writing. And, if the driving computer is to be believed, the first service is still another 2,200 miles off.Since the last report (Fleet News September 30) at 8,600 miles the Picasso’s rorty HDi 110 engine has loosened up quite nicely.
In real-world driving this has translated into an engine that – although lacking a real knockout punch – has by no means been embarrassed by other larger-engined or more overtly sporting machinery. The biggest surprise though is its very un-diesel like linear- power delivery and the absence of a hard-edged engine speed governor calling a halt to my playtime.
Praise too to the Michelin Energy XSE 185/65-15 tyres. The recent autumnal deluges have highlighted their high resistance to aquaplaning. And wear rate has been low with a good 60% tread depth still available on the fronts and negligible wear on the rears.
Absolutely nothing untoward to report, but some mysteries solved. The irritating squeak from somewhere inside the cavernous interior, has been tracked down to the driver’s seat and there have been no more occurrences of the engine running on. A small pool of water under the car – immediately below the driver’s foot-well – was found to be nothing more than dripping condensation from the air-con unit.
Things have been looking up at the pumps. The previous low of 42 mpg has been consigned to history and improved to 48 mpg. And showing some minor restraint, returned an amazing 55.8 mpg.
But I’m hoping to better this by switching the air-con from ‘auto’ to ‘eco’. So watch this space.
Citroen Xsara Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
Price (OTR): £16,645 (£17,145 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 131
Company car tax bill (2004/5) 22% tax-payer: £53 per month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 57
Test mpg: 51.9
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,500/27%
HSBC contract hire rate: £302 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil