Citroën UK expects to sell around 1,600 units of the new C4 Picasso by year-end

Citroën UK expects to sell around 1,600 units of the new C4 Picasso by year-end

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The new Citroën C4 Picasso is smaller yet roomier, 140kg lighter, and the first conventionally powered compact MPV to deliver sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. Glenn Brooks assesses the debut model on PSA's EMP2 architecture.

Remember when Citroëns looked fantastically weird? It's been some time since you could say that about any vehicle made by the PSA division but finally, one has been launched. That's good-weird, by the way, not poorly proportioned-weird.

The model which the new C4 Picasso replaces had a peculiarly long front end but to me, that somehow only helped to make it look just right. The same applied to the bigger, seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso - most C-segment MPVs are as boring as vanilla compared to these two.

Now, the big and curvy headlights have been banished, replaced by slimline LED daytime-running lights which sit high above new hi-tech headlights. These give the front of the vehicle a bit of a strange appearance - not at all cuddly-friendly like the smaller C3 Picasso - but instead a high-tech statement that makes it stand out from all others in the class.

When I saw the Technospace concept at the Geneva motor show in March, it was obvious that Citroën design was being given a fresh direction. What I hadn't expected was that the vehicle it previewed would look little different from this design study. When you consider how much money PSA was beginning to lose while the new C4 Picasso was being designed and developed, it's a wonderful thing that Citroën management team was able to push through such a radical looking car.

It's no good having a much admired new model if not enough people take the decision to lease one, a fate which has befallen such worthy vehicles as the Fiat Multipla, or current Nissan Cube or Jaguar XJ. That's clearly not going to happen to the new Picasso, as Citroën already has taken over 10,000 orders for the new Picasso in LHD European markets.

Cars for the UK have just gone on sale and here, the expectation is for 6,000 sales per annum. The Grand C4, which will be revealed at the Frankfurt show next month, will be available in Britain from January. Unlike the outgoing model, the new Grand has a longer wheelbase than the standard C4 Picasso, so there should be loads of room for all seven occupants.

As mentioned earlier, the new C4 Picasso is the first vehicle on PSA's Efficient Modular Platform 2 architecture, or EMP2. Compared to the first generation vehicle, the new one weighs an average 140kg less version for version. Here's an interesting fact to chew over - the weight is now the same as the brand's B-segment MPV, the C3 Picasso. How has it been done? Most of the reduction is thanks to the use of aluminium for multiple components, as well as a composite rear floor and tailgate.

The targeted buyers are young families and retirees. Research apparently shows that both these groups value space, plus easy access to a highly flexible interior. The rear seats flip easily and you don't need to be especially strong to pull them back up either - I'd be surprised if there hasn't been some attention to weight-saving in their design.

The occupant in the middle, individual back seat in some ways gets the best deal as the windows and B-pillars are fairly curvy so the outermost passengers sit quite close to the glass and roof. It's nowhere near as bad as the rear seats of an A-Class or CLA-Class (where the headliner extends down to ear level for even average height adults), just something to be noted if you regularly transport tall rear passengers. That's about the worst thing I can find to say about sitting in the back of this vehicle - other than that the views out are panoramic, the ride is excellent and no doubt helped by the longer wheelbase, and all the materials looked and felt up the standards of the best in this class.

Up front there a panoramic windscreen is a standard feature (the glass extends into the roof). Handily, the sun visors don't just pivot but also slide back and forth so you can find good protection from the sun for your upper face. The trouble is, while the view out is wonderful, if you don't pack a baseball cap, the top of your head is totally exposed to sunburn as there is no retractable blind. I do feel sorry for car designers - there's always someone who'll moan about a feature that was intended to make the driving experience more enjoyable. One of those purple UV-reflecting windscreens would be ideal. I wonder why you no longer see them?

You will want to know about the manufacturing side of things, so I can report that all cars are being made at the Vigo plant in Spain. PSA also makes the C-Elysée and Peugeot 301 small sedan twins there (PF2 platform), as well as the Citroën DS4 (also on PF2 but its replacement will use EMP2) and Peugeot Partner/Citroën Berlingo vans and MPVs (also PF2).

The new C4 Picasso is codenamed B785, and the forthcoming Grand is B787. I know what you're thinking, and yes, B786 would logically be a Renault Scénic XMOD and VW CrossTouran competitor. Is it still in the development phase or was it one of the projects cancelled in last year's cost cuts? I haven't got the answer as yet, but when I find out, I'll update this review.

Overall, the new C4 Picasso deserves to succeed as it's good to drive, well priced and looks like nothing else in its class, both on the outside and in the cabin. There are two petrol and three diesel engine options, with the diesels are expected to account for some 90 percent of UK orders. The e-HDi 90 ETG6 VTR+ has a class-best 98g/km CO2 average, with other variants averaging between 105 and 145g/km. Prices start at GBP17,500 rising to just under GBP24,500.