The Picasso is Citroen’s take on a no-nonsense, good-value, light-to-operate ‘midi’ MPV, but injected with a small dose of DNA from an earlier generation of Citroens. Sure it’s quirky and offbeat – but it’s a welcome change in a world of cloned euroboxes.
On the road, interior tranquillity and performance are governed by the beefy nature of the 1.6 HDi 110bhp engine and not so much by the road surface: badly maintained roads are dismissed with typical Gallic disdain.
At motorway speed, the Picasso sounds busy. An incessant rhythmical thrumming from the engine fills the interior and turns relaxed conversation into a shouting match. Performance from the 1.6-litre engine is good. There is the mid-range torque overboost facility giving a few seconds worth of extra torque (11ft/lb) for overtaking. But I can’t help feeling that a full 2.0-litre version of this engine would deliver more useful performance.
With 8,600 miles on the clock, the Picasso’s workman-like interior is still as pristine as the day it left France on its epic journey north: only the gearlever gaiter shows minor signs of wear.
Faults have been few: an intermittent ‘running on’ when switching the engine off and an annoying squeak that emanates from somewhere inside the cavernous cabin. I do have an issue with the lack of rearward travel of the driver’s seat and the increasingly common complaint of sturdy windscreen pillars obscuring the driver’s view at junctions. Over my initial 1,439 miles, the Picasso has averaged 46.5mpg, posting a low of 42mpg with sustained motorway use. But more typically the Picasso has rewarded me with a more parsimonious 51mpg.
Price (OTR): £16,645 (£17,145 tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 131
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £53 per month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 57
Test mpg: 51
CAP Monitor residual value: £4500/27%
HSBC contract hire rate: £302 per month
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles