Buyers looking for something that doesn’t follow convention and who appreciate a real touch of French flair should certainly have the latest Citroen C4 Picasso on their short (often very short) list of potential cars.

Just what is the Citroen C4 Picasso? It’s hard to define, being a mixture of a tall hatchback and a people mover, with a touch of SUV thrown in for good measure.

This is not the first Citroen that refuses to slot neatly into any category, nor will it be the last. We love the French marque for that.

Citroen C4 Picasso looks like nothing else on the road. Most of its upper surfaces are glass, from its huge windscreen that almost merges into a super-sized sunroof and onto the sleek rear glass the compact French people mover defies convention. Inside, there are fascinating curves, facets and materials. Many in the dashboard area are fashioned around the big electronic screens.

A large screen in the centre of the dash displays the main instruments. It can be set up with a choice of displays to suit your individual tastes and driving conditions.

A smaller screen in a more conventional position lower down in the centre console looks after air conditioning, audio and other minor tasks.


Citroen C4 Picasso is priced at $40,990 plus on-road costs. It has a good range of standard equipment, with keyless entry and start-stop, automatic headlights and wipers, LED daytime running lamps, and foglamps with a cornering function.

Options are numerous and let you take part in customisation, as well as increase practicality. A set of 18-inch Python alloy wheels ($1500); Electric tailgate ($1000);

The Lounge Pack has part leather seats, “relax style” headrests, LED light for tray tables on the backs of the front seats, fronts seats with electric lumbar support and massage function and electric foot rest for the front passenger ($2000); and Full Nappa leather seats with the Lounge Pack plus electrically adjustable and heated seats ($5000).

Citroens now have a six-year warranty, capped price servicing and a roadside assist package.

The C4 Picasso is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol unit that produces 120 kilowatts. Torque is a very useful 240 Newton metres all the way from 1400 revs to 4000.

All Australian imports of the C4 Picasso run a six-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels. There’s no manual gearbox option here as there is in European markets.


The Drive Assist pack has lane departure warning, smart beam function, active cruise control, anti-collision warning, active seat belts and electro-chromatic rear vision mirror. All are worthwhile items and we suggest spending the extra $2000 makes sense.

Driving the C4 Picasso is a different experience, not only do you have that goldfish bowl in front of you, the gear lever is in an unusual spot on the top-right of the steering wheel. It takes a bit of becoming accustomed to, so we suggest a longer than average test drive if you’ve never been in a Citroen before.

If the sunlight is too strong it can be kept out by moving the front of the cabin’s roof forward in two sections to cover the top areas of the windscreen.

Picasso has five individual seats, with all the rear units having the same dimensions. The rear seat can slide back and forward to let you choose between passenger legroom and boot capacity. With the seats in their rearmost positions there’s good legroom for adults.

The front seats have adjustments in multiple directions, some settings are controlled by small buttons in the front corner of the seat. It looks as though it takes up unnecessary space but we soon became accustomed to it.

Luggage space is good, 537 litres with the rear seats back, 630 with them all the way forward. The seats can be folded flat to give you a voluminous 1851 litres.

Citroen Picasso’s ride comfort is everything you expect from a French car – smooth and quiet to the point of serenity. There was more tyre noise than anticipated on some of Australia’s notorious coarse-chip surfaces, but other than that it’s pretty impressive. Perhaps try that sort of road on your private test drive if you anticipate country touring in your new Citroen.

Handling is safe enough, but tall hatches never feel as good as standard height ones due to the higher centre of gravity. If you’re a keen driver who likes press-on motoring in hilly areas perhaps look at a different Citroen.

The engine is no ball of fire, but is likely to have enough performance for the typical buyer – if there is such a thing as a typical buyer for any Citroen. The six-speed automatic transmission impressed us with the way it teamed with the smallish 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine to have it at its best revs.

With a starting price of $40,990 the Citroen falls into the industry statistician Vfacts’ category which includes BMW’s 2 Series Active Tourer, and Mercedes-Benz big-selling B-Class.

The Citroen importer is delighted to see its Picasso in such exalted company, but it will be interesting to see if buyers see the stylish Cit the same way.


C4 Picasso 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $40,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Citroen dealer for drive-away prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard
Automatic Transmission: Standard
Cruise Control: Standard
Dual Front Airbags: Standard
Front Side Airbags: Standard
Electronic Stability Program: Standard
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard
Reversing Camera: Standard
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard
Bluetooth: Standard
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard

SPECIFICATIONS (Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.598 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, VVT four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 77.0 mm x 85.8 mm
Maximum Power: 121 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 1400 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied

Length: 4428 mm
Wheelbase: 2785 mm
Width: 1826 mm
Height: 1644 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1310 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 57 litres
Towing Ability: 685 kg (1310 with braked trailer)

Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, hydraulic dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam, coil springs, hydraulic dampers
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.6 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 8/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Six years / unlimited km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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