By Patrick James on 2010-04-11 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Citroen C3 Picasso
1.6 HDi Exclusive
PABLO Picasso, as every schoolchild knows, was a Spanish artist known for his quirky art and co-founding the Cubism style.
It may be that is why Citroen adopted the name, because many of its models offer quirky styling as well as competitive pricing and practicality and cuboid looks.
While the crossover is the hot property at the moment, the MPV remains the choice for those looking for practicality above performance and styling.
That's not to say that MPVs can't be pretty and the C3 does stand out from the crowd.
It has a kind of curved cube look and offers cavernous space, but is only slightly longer than your average supermini
It is a car for all seasons that offers big savings on some of its competitors while offering a cheap running costs.
One of the things that impressed me most about the C3 was the feeling of space and airiness on the inside.
This impression is aided by a large glass areas and the clever use of the thick windscreen pillars.
These appear to have been hollowed out and filled with glass inserts which not only enhance the interior light, but give much better vision in what is traditionally a blind spot. The car is obviously safer if you can easily see what is coming from either side.
And safety is another key feature of this practical beast.
It features front, side and curtain airbags feature, as does ABS with EBD and EBA, Isofix anchor points and a seatbelt monitor system. ESP is also available with an ASR traction control system as an option on the more expensive models.
I know when my daughter, who has three children, is picking a car these safety features are paramount.
So too is the versatility, if you add a large dog to a fair sized family.
This where the flexibile seating arrangement comes in. The rear three seats can be slid, folded and removed in any number of combinations that allow for carrying the most awkward shaped loads.
Even with the seats in place, boot space is impressive at 500 litres which is not always the case with some MPVs,.
With all the rear seats and passenger seats folded or removed, this increases to a mighty 1,506 litres.
Buyers looking for practicality are usually after economic motoring as well and again the C3 scores well here.
It has a starting price of £11,495 with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and a good level of equipment. The 1.6 HDi Exclusive, at £15,595, offers a whole lot more for quite a bit more money.
The 110bhp diesel engine proved a frugal beast over a week, delivering well over 50mpg. It is also a lean burning engine, pumping out CO2 emissions of only 130g/km, putting it in the 18 per cent company car tax band and the £120 per year road tax bracket.
That is not at the expense of performance, which is lively enough.
It is also pretty refined, particularly on the motorway where, despite the squareish shape, wind and road noise were both subdued.
Equipment levels are good even on the base model VT. The VTR+ trim level, offers some added extras such as air conditioning and alloy wheels. And the top end of the range, Exclusive trim level adds luxury touches like a completely flat folding front passenger seat, and a removable boot light torch.
The C3 Picasso is available with a choice of two petrol units, co-developed with BMW - the VTi 95 and VTi 120 - and two HDi diesels - the HDi 90 and HDi 110 DPFS.
: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Citroen C3 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
Mechanical: 73bhp, 1,600cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via five-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 57.6
Insurance Group: 13
C02 emissions: 130g/km
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