Fleet News

Citroen Xsara Picasso 2.0 HDI SX - 8,700 miles



##citpcs.jpg--Right##FOR once, the mindless Christmas 'goodwill' of Peterborough's petty criminal fraternity delivered an unexpected present. East Anglia's colourful street life once again decided that our long term Honda Accord was worth attacking, and so another passenger window became a pool of shattered glass on the pavement, and a radio disappeared into a festive pub or car boot sale.

No matter that the radio front had been diligently removed, or that Autoglass again carried out a swift and efficient repair. The prospect of having music-free motoring for the Christmas fortnight was not appealing, so I searched for an alternative test car, and our Citroen Xsara Picasso entered the frame.

I have never been a fan of MPV design, finding them too van-like in appearance, but the Picasso at least has a side profile that is more space age than parcel courier, and in bright metallic green with alloy wheels (both options) it cuts quite a dash on the road.

There is not much dash in its performance, although its 90bhp 2.0-litre HDi engine proves splendidly refined and frugal, averaging 45.6mpg despite several fully-laden motorway cruises. The absence of engine noise, however, must in part be due to the excessive wind noise that intrudes from the full-length sun roof, particularly above 60mph. This is no doubt the perfect option when heading for the beach at St Tropez in the summer with a car-load of surf boards and surf babes, but I would choose a hard top every time on the A1 north of Newcastle in December.

The Picasso itself has shown a lack of appetite for British winter weather, with its windscreen wash freezing prematurely, despite a rich mixture of anti-freeze, before breaking down completely. A dirty or smeared windscreen is bad enough in any car, but it has become a real nuisance to pull into laybys to clean the Citroen's billboard sized screen. A trip to the dealer beckons, but as always it is difficult to find the time.

So despite the noisy roof and unreliable windscreen wash, why do I like the Picasso so much? The answer lies inside, where the driving position, seat configuration and boot space all make for a comfortable, practical car for five people and two dogs. The A-pillar can obscure vision when turning right, but otherwise the driving position is superb, with switchgear close to hand and well-aligned seat, steering wheel and pedals.

Volkswagen Golf-addicted passengers have praised the Picasso's light, airy cabin, and funky design (with its central information pod), while back-seat travellers have welcomed the firm seats and excellent head and leg room. Even in the boot, my two dogs seemed to have plenty of space alongside Christmas luggage.

What's more, with a December price realignment the Xsara Picasso 2.0 HDi SX hits the road at ú14,315. A further ú800 cash-back scheme available until the end of March helps to cover the cost of options (metallic paint, full length electric sunroof, automatic air conditioning and alloy wheels) on our model that inflates its on-the-road price to ú15,715.

Jonathan Manning

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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