UK advance orders for the new models are 600 units, twice as many as expected and in mainland Europe the story is much the same with 10,000 advance orders. The first Picasso was launched in 1999 as the Xsara and sales of all Citroen’s C3/C4 MPV models have almost reached 400,000 units in the UK.
Priced from £17,500 to £24,455, much the same prices as the models they replace, Citroen in the UK expects around 6,000 C4 Picasso sales in a full year with a 50-50 split between retail and fleet customers. Many of the fleet customers will come from the Mobility scheme. Around 90% of customers will choose a diesel powered model, surprising given the extra price of diesel fuel and extra purchase price of diesel models over petrol.
Currently there are two petrol and three diesel engine options most with Stop & Start function and the choice of VTR, VTR+ Exclusive and Exclusive+ trim and equipment levels depending on the choice of engine. A new 6-speed clutchless manual gearbox, the ETG6 (6-speed Efficient Tronic Gearbox), is offered on e-HDi 90 and e-HDi 115 diesel versions.
The single best selling model is expected to be 1.6-litre e-HDI 115 Airdream manual with VTR+ specification priced at £20,255. Airdream is Citroen’s ‘eco’ branding for their most fuel efficient and low CO2 models. This version will officially return 70.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 105g/km so road tax is zero cost for the First Year rate and then only £20 per annum for the second year onwards. Company car drivers will pay 16% Benefit-in-Kind tax for this model. Insurance is group 18E.
An even more efficient engine will join the line-up by the end of the year - a new Euro 6 compliant ‘BlueHDi’ powerplant will deliver CO2 emissions from just 98g/km and fuel economy of up to 74.3 mpg.
The seven seat new C4 Grand Picasso range with similar powertrain and specification options will join the line up in January 2014 with prices expected to start from around £20,000. Judging by the demand for the five seat Picasso now making its debut, Citroen think the Grand Picasso could achieve 10,000 UK sales in a full year.
Core to the all-new C4 Picasso 5-seat and the forthcoming 7-seat Grand Picasso is PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s new EMP2 modular aluminium and steel platform which has reduced the weight by 70kg over the outgoing versions. An aluminium bonnet and composite tailgate has also brought about a 70kg weight saving. In the case of the C4 Picasso, the first model to use the new platform, the reduced mass, improved aerodynamics and optimised drivetrains have significantly improve efficiency with CO2 emissions an average 30g/km less than the previous generation model.
The new C4 Picasso is slightly more compact than the outgoing model being 40mm shorter in length with reduced overhangs, wider tracks, a lower position for the engine block and vehicle floor and the roofline is 40mm lower but there isn’t an issue with headroom which is plentiful and there is more rear seat legroom. It looks a more sophisticated and classy vehicle and less budget-buy family bus or taxi. The sleeker, more dynamic styling has a purposeful looking front end with new look chevrons and slim LED daytime-running lights set high above new headlights and fog lamps complete the lighting design signature.
Along the side of the car the sculpted body panels brings personality to the people carrier and to some extent underlines the space available to occupants. The rear LED lights feature a futuristic and novel 3D effect which is fast becoming a Citroën hallmark. A very smart and distinctive up-market feature is the enveloping clamshell tailgate that adds to the vehicle’s perceived higher quality, it certainly adds to the space available for luggage. With all five individual seats in use the boot space is a welcoming 537-litres, fold down all three rear seats and this increases to a huge 1,851-litres. The fact that each of the rear seats is independent and can be folded or can even slide forwards independently, gives a really versatile vehicle. It is ideal for active singles carrying sports equipment, couples with young children, couples with older children, empty nesters and the less mobile. Motability customers feature highly in their UK Picasso fleet sales say Citroen.
As usual these days there is a wide range of extra cost options that customers can use to tailor their vehicle. The new C4 Picasso is available in a range of eight body colours and all versions are fitted with alloy wheels as standard, with a range of original designs from 16 to 18-inches. Unfortunately the new Picasso doesn’t come with a spare wheel as standard, just a horrible inflation kit, so cough-up another £75 for a space-saver, there is room under the load floor for it.
Inside the C4 Picasso is light and airy which Citroen calls an uncluttered, loft-style interior ambience. This includes a standard specification panoramic windscreen - unique to the segment - and an £699 optional large glass sunroof package which includes tinted glass and electric sunblind. Other options include 360-Degree Vision and Park Assist. Fitted as standard to all models are loads of safety items plus air conditioning, electric front and rear windows, hill start assist, electric parking brake, cruise control, a good sound system, stability control and anti-lock braking.
Apart from the huge wide and high windscreen and three individual rear seats, the most noticeable feature of the new C4 Picasso is the fascia panel which features two digital screens - a ‘tablet’ style 7-inch touchpad and a 12-inch panoramic HD screen.
The 7-inch Touch Drive controls all the vehicle settings and in-car functions such as the dual-zone air conditioning, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB digital radio.
The panoramic 12-inch screen can be configured to display a range of additional driving information such as the speedo and the cruise control and speed-limiter settings. There’s even the option of changing the theme and uploading a personal photograph as a backdrop.
Available as an option on all versions new C4 Picasso can provide users with access to Citroën’s Multicity Connect, a portal of connected applications, controlled from the 7-inch touchpad. The system lets users find the nearest service station, a hotel or restaurant, get weather updates or traffic information.
In short the new C4 Picasso, as a mid-sized five seater MPV, meets all the requirements we have come to expect, it’s roomy, easy to get in and out off, lots of legroom, loads of carrying space and its well equipped and seemingly of a higher quality. Just as important is the fact that it looks good with a much higher perceived level of class about it. It drives pretty well, the ride is comfortable and better controlled with improved balance and less body roll although it is still on the softer side of firm which in real-life is no bad thing. Ride comfort is now one of the top three requirements for today’s motorists, that and affordable prices and lower running costs. The steering could do with being sharper with still more feedback but I got used to it pretty quickly and it is easy to park thanks to the good visibility and light steering. In short it makes light work of heavy traffic conditions and will make longer trips less tiresome.
MILESTONES: New Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDI 115 Airdream 6-speed manual 5-seat MPV. Price: £20,255 (Expected best selling model). Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel with Stop & Start, 114bhp, 199lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 117mph, 0-62mph 11.8 seconds, 70.6mpg (49.5mpg on test), CO2 105g/km, VED roads tax £0 First Year rate then £20 per annum year two onwards, BIK company car tax 16%. Insurance group: 18E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,428mm, W 1,971mm, H 1,625mm, 5 individual seats, boot/load space 537 to 1,851-litres. For: Classy good looks outside and in, agile, comfortable, easy to get in and out off, versatile seating. Against: Improved handling but not as sharp as the Ford C-Max for example, lifeless steering, real-life fuel economy misses the official figure by miles.
Miles Better News Agency