Citroen C4 Picasso

Flair BlueHDi 150

Citroen C4 Picasso, front action
Citroen C4 Picasso, rear static
Citroen C4 Picasso, dashboard
Citroen C4 Picasso, boot
Citroen C4 Picasso, rear seats
Citroen C4 Picasso, front
Citroen C4 Picasso, front
Citroen C4 Picasso, rear
Citroen C4 Picasso, rear

IF you're mature enough in years - or a classic car enthusiast - you'll know that Citroen was once all about comfort. Softly sprung and armchair like, in fact.

The company built cars with extremely complex suspension in an effort to provide a magic carpet on four wheels. It worked well enough to take the sting out of typically bumpy roads in Citroen's native France.

It was also loved by owners the world over for the way their cars seemed to lord it over lesser machines with simpler springing, and for the theatrical way a long-parked car would sigh and raise itself to working height as the engine was started.

That bit of mechanical one-upmanship has long been replaced in Citroens by a more mundane solution - but lots of other makers do pretty well with conventional suspension, so Citroen might too.

Now comes, with this latest upgrade to the C4 Picasso range - a new front end meets a host of new technology on the inside - something called Citroen Advanced Comfort. It has even registered those three words to keep others from copying the idea too closely.

But what does this programme consist of? Well, there are four 'key pillars' and they start with making the car quiet and comfortable, with attention to suspension, seating and noise levels.

Now, you may think that Citroen is not alone in that aim, and you'd be perfectly right, course. In fact, short of a track-focused Ferrari or two, it's hard to think of a car maker who doesn't share Citroen's aims.

Ditto for points two and three, which refer to well designed interiors, ingenious storage spaces, easily accessible controls, useful driving aids and connecting driver to the car digitally (I think that means linking phones, mostly).

Again, every other car maker shares something close to those aims. It takes the final point (four) before I reckon Citroen has something unusual to boast about - it wants to lighten the mental load of the driver and everyone on board 'displaying only truly useful information and by working on the light in the cabin and the use of materials.'

And the revamped C4 Picasso (and longer, seven seat C4 Grand Picasso) do just that. Push the right button and the huge screen that acts as an instrument panel can be reduced to a single readout of speed.

If you want to see what's left in the tank, or water temperature, another push reveals all, but at night, especially, this minimal display is usefully less distracting.

The cabin is certainly also light, thanks to a simply vast windscreen that curls deeply into the roofline (great for plane spotting) but can be reined in with pull down sections if the sun shines too brightly. A vast glass sunroof is part of the Flair grade car and adds to the outside-in feel.

The C4 Picasso range starts at £19,635 and tops out at £27,600, with the extra-seated Grand Picasso version costing another £1,700 on top of the test car's total.

The diesel engine of the test car quietened down after a noisy cold start and produced plenty of passing power and touched nearly 50mpg (49.5mpg) in more than 600 miles of varied driving.

FAST FACTS

Citroen C4 Picasso Flair BlueHDi 150

Price: £26,310

Mechanical: 148bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 65.7

Insurance Group: 25

C02 emissions: 111g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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