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Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Intensive

 

The weird-but-wonderful Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Intensive is an intriguing machine for several reasons…

Base price: $49,990.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo diesel four, 110kW/370Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 4.5 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 9.7 seconds.

Vital statistics: 4597mm long, 1964mm high, wheelbase 2840mm, luggage capacity 165-793-2181 litres, fuel tank 57 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels.

We like: Avant garde styling, high-tech powertrain, clever packaging.

We don’t like: Fussy dashboard (but it’s fun), inconsistent transmission.

How it rates: 8/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Citroen’s new Grand C4 Picasso is destined to be a niche player in New Zealand, simply because it’s a people-mover: while this type of vehicle is all the rage in Europe and Japan for those who want seven seats and/or lots of luggage space, in this part of the world it’s all but ignored in favour of the sports utility vehicle (SUV).

That’s a shame. But the Picasso is still an intriguing machine for several reasons. It’s the first Peugeot-Citroen product launched here to be built upon the maker’s new EMP2 modular platform (the all-new 308 will be next). It’s also first with a new 2.0-litre BlueHDi turbo diesel engine that meets Euro 6 emissions standards. The exhaust system uses a fluid called AdBlue to transform NOx pollution into water and a particulate filter to reduce the harmful black stuff by 99.9 percent.

The Picasso also commands attention because it looks outrageous. This is surely the ultimate answer to anybody who claims that people-movers are dull.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The BlueHDi engine’s green credentials don’t have immediate payback in terms of the driving experience – save for giving you a reason to feel smug.

But you can perceive and enjoy the healthy torque characteristics of this 2.0-litre unit, especially in conjunction with the also-new six-speed automatic gearbox.

In gentle driving – the kind you do with six children aboard – this is a really pleasant machine, which lopes along with an effortless gait and snicks between ratios smoothly.

At speed, the powertrain is less confident. The French just don’t seem to have the knack of calibrating automatic gearboxes to adapt intuitively to changing driving conditions: the transmission either changes up too early in the pursuit of economy (gearing is about 20 percent longer in this model) or holds onto ratios far too long in a strange attempt to be diesel-sporty. Mind you, the French disdain for automatic gearboxes is almost equal to their love of people movers.

The ride is cushy, the body well-controlled in tight turns. But this is still not a car you are compelled to hurry along in. Nor should you…

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Think of the Picasso more as a luxury lounge. That’s certainly the impression you get when you slide inside the cabin, with enormous glass areas, materials that have a premium feel and an unexpected number of screens.

Two in fact, and it turns out that neither are televisions. The flagship Picasso Intensive has a large 12-inch display atop the console that is used to show speed, navigation, trip computer and 360-degree parking camera assistance. Disconcerting at first, but undeniably impressive.

Below it is a smaller seven-inch unit (a touch-operated) that handles less immediate functions such as climate control and Bluetooth.

The whole dashboard setup does have a strong suggestion of being overly complex for the sake of being different, but it’s certainly a talking point and ensures that the inside lives up to the promise of that outrageous exterior styling.

The Picasso does all of the normal people-mover stuff that European carmakers are so good at as well: the five rear seats are individual chairs which can be adjusted to meet various people and cargo-carrying requirements, the cabin is spacious and there’s heaps of storage space. The family will appreciate touches such as aircraft-style fold-up tables on the front seatbacks and hidden underfloor storage areas in the back.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? Let’s face it, you probably won’t. If you’re not a people-mover fan, this probably won’t convert you because it’s pretty, well, weird.

But what a wonderful vehicle. Modern Citroens have to embrace mainstream platform technology so there’s not much hope of real innovation there, but the Picasso does represent a sense of styling and packaging flair that truly sets Citroen apart.

You just feel great driving it – and people feel great travelling in it.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
  • Blind spot warning: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Partial
  • Parking radar: Yes with 360-degree camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: No
  • Rear ventilation outlets: Yes
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: Yes
  • Split/folding rear seats: 40/20/40 centre row and 50/50 rear
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: Yes
  • Trip computer: Yes

Find a 2014 Citroen C4 Picasso for sale HERE.


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