Despite its speedy introduction, the model has proved it has real staying power as it is still selling strongly well into its fifth year.
However, its stay on our fleet has come to an end after nearly a year of economical, flexible and friendly motoring.
Several road testers have given their verdict on the car over the past few months, covering everything from young families to bikers needing four-wheel transport and young couples.
Looking back over the past tests, it is clear there are a few themes which emerge.
The first is fuel economy from the excellent 1.6 HDi engine, which was returning more than 50mpg at times and always managed about 45mpg, even when crammed with passengers.
The second is practicality, with the interior coping with everything from children to house moves.
Then there was value for money, as the list price of £16,645 for our fully-loaded model undercut rivals by many hundreds of pounds – and thousands in some cases.
And the Picasso was also commended for providing a certain charm and quirkiness which is making a very welcome return to the rest of the Citroen range these days.
The Picasso has performed very well on the test fleet, with only a regular 12,500-mile service showing on its running costs, while reliability and build quality have been pretty much faultless.
That isn’t to say the Picasso is perfect, however. A number of our road testers, myself included, criticised the very woolly gearbox, although once you approach cog-shifting with a relaxed Gallic style, it all makes sense.
There were occasional squeaks and rattles, but nothing which required particular attention, and the interior has recovered completely from the artistic mess caused by children, as reported in our last long-term test on the Picasso.
Although I may have seemed critical in my last test (Fleet NewsNet, March 17), I was only focusing on relatively minor irritations which an owner would soon overcome. And once forgotten, it is a very pleasant driving experience, made all the more welcome by its keen pricing and excellent fuel economy.
Despite the Picasso being a relative pensioner compared to brand-new rivals, it still holds its own, both in terms of styling and under the bonnet, thanks to regular updating of engine options.
The best part is that if you opt for a Picasso, there are some great bargains to be had.
As you may have noticed from the television adverts, Citroen knows how to make someone an offer they can’t refuse.
As a result, this is still a very attractive fleet car, both financially and in the metal, and nearly 14,000 miles of driving has done nothing to spoil a very positive picture.
What the team says
‘THE Picasso isn’t glamorous or dynamic, it doesn’t have the wow factor which makes you want to go cruising in it, but it certainly is a great family car. It is powerful, with space to accommodate five people comfortably, a high driving position, loads of handy stashes and useful kit. It is also inexpensive to buy and run (providing you get the official fuel economy figure of 57mpg, compared to my best effort of 52mpg) and definitely one of the test cars I’ve most enjoyed driving.
With a class-leading 550 litres of loadspace, I have packed the Picasso to the gills with people, shopping, plants, even an inflatable bouncy castle – not all at the same time, I hasten to add. But the great thing is that, when packed, I’ve heard none of the regular moans about ‘I can’t get my legs in’ or ‘the pushchair will have to go on the back seat.’
So, all in all, while the Picasso undoubtedly has its faults, is a little dated when compared to the competition and doesn’t have the greatest residual values, I still think it offers a great family-friendly package, especially with the extra power of the new 110bhp engine – and with low front-end costs to counteract the poor residuals, it’s also a cost-effective fleet solution.’
I’D always viewed the Picasso as something of a visual oddity. Indeed, due to the near-perfect front-to-rear symmetry, at home it gained the nickname ‘Push-Me-Pull-You’ after Dr Dolittle’s two-headed llama.
The Picasso offers passenger/load space aplenty, a hardwearing interior which includes Teflon-treated upholstery (it withstood all that my two children could throw at it) and Citroen’s highly competitive pricing policy.
The 1.6 HDi engine was always a spirited performer and returned excellent fuel economy. And it begs the question: ‘Why spend substantially more for materialistically less?’
Citroen’s Picasso still makes sense.
Model: Citroen Xsara Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
Price (OTR): £16,645 (£17,145 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 131
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 22% tax-payer: £53 per month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 57
Test mpg: 46
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,500/27%
HSBC contract hire rate: £302
Expenditure to date: £167.36 (12,000-mile service)