Mini Citroen is

practical and fun

CITROEN'S C3 Picasso is a brilliant small estate that is actually not small at all.

I was amazed how much I could cram into it for a holiday over to the beautiful mountains in the west of Ireland.

And the 1.6 turbo diesel engine was more than man enough for the weight, giving swift acceleration for easy overtaking on the still marvellously car-free roads over there. It really is a great place to drive.

The Picasso proved versatile and hugely practical, seating five in reasonable comfort on one occasion, and taking the sometimes poor Irish road surfaces in its stride.

The engine is smooth and reasonably quiet, and gave 50+ mpg for the whole holiday.

The road holding is safe and sure, with less roll that you might expect from a tall car, and the electric power steering has plenty of feel.

The pugnacious looks of the C3 might not be to everyone's taste but I found they grew on me and I enjoyed the well rounded performance immensely.

Top Exclusive spec brings dual zone climate, four electric windows, a great stereo system, rather ugly alloy wheels, auto headligthts and wipers, cruise control and an MP3 connection.

: Vauxhall Meriva

FAST FACTS

Price: £16,800

Mechanical: 110bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving the front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 114mph

0-62mph: 11.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 57

Insurance Group: 5

C02 emissions: 129g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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