Fleet News

Citroen Xsara Picasso 2.0 HDI SX - 3,325 miles



##citrpic.jpg --Right##ANYONE who has read my long term road test reports over the years will know that I have a love/ hate relationship with MPVs. I love the space when I need to use it - about twice a year on average - and the rest of the time I can't see why anyone would want one ahead of an estate car.

But the Citroen Xsara Picasso, the latest addition to our long term test vehicle line-up, is not an MPV and therefore, in my book, it does not take on the Vauxhall Zafira (seven seats and no luggage space or five seats and luggage space) although it does compete with the Fiat Multipla (six seats and luggage space) and its more traditional rival, the sector-creating Renault Scenic.

From its outward design, the Picasso is firmly targeted at the Scenic and its unique selling point over the Renault is its space. Internally, the impression is one of massive amounts of space and in reality, while I can't claim to have used or even found all the claimed 30 different storage areas, there is bucketloads of room.

Underfloor 'secret' storage areas are useful for security, along with a tray under the driver's seat, deep door pockets which are useable and a large glove compartment are just some of the useful features, not to mention the must-have in-car shopping trolley (unused as yet).

Essentially, Citroen chiefs have seen that the Scenic is a winner in the marketplace and have gone out to copy the car and then decided to beat it in terms of practicality. They have succeeded. On the road, our range-topping ú15,715 Picasso - the full-length electric sunroof is a ú450 option - is powered by the PSA Group's tried and trusted 90bhp common rail diesel engine which has returned more than 47mpg in almost 1,000 miles of motoring.

Sprightly acceleration coupled with hardly a rattle at start-up and no one would know they were in a diesel vehicle. Air conditioning, ABS, radio/CD and twin front and front lateral airbags all contribute to making up an impressive specification list for under ú16,000 on-the-road.

And with a carbon dioxide emission figure of 147g/km, our test car is in the lowest company car tax bracket - even when the benefit-in-kind screw is tightened two notches in the 2004/05 tax year.

The Picasso has a digital dashboard and, interestingly, the speedometer readout makes far more of an impression on me from a safety viewpoint than the traditional dial. Another credit is the lack of a sill to the luggage compartment.

However, gripes include complaints from rear seat passengers that they can feel every bump in the road, although as the driver, I don't have a problem with ride quality, an indicator which when used emits a noise which would wake the dead and that a PhD is required to operate the seatbelt by the rear centre seat passenger.

Ashley Martin

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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