A cu­bist ca­pac­ity

Citroen re-in­ter­prets the Pi­casso as a smart, al­most sci-fi, five-seater hatch

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - CHRIS RI­LEY chris.ri­ley@news.com.au

CITROEN’S big­gest seller is the Ber­lingo van, fol­lowed by the Grand Pi­casso, its well­re­garded seven-seater with more ca­chet than other peo­plemovers. So what made the brand think that by shrink­ing the car and re­mov­ing two seats it would sell more cars? Price for one thing. Launched this week, the full-of-fruit C4 Pi­casso is priced from $40,990 plus on roads — $4000 less than its larger sib­ling. It’s not a big dif­fer­ence but Citroen likens the Pi­casso to a large hatch that will ap­peal to a dif­fer­ent kind of buyer.

Shorter and lower than its Grand sib­ling, the Pi­casso still shares a plat­form with the larger car and re­lated ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the Peu­geot 308.

The rear bench is di­vided into three in­di­vid­u­ally ad­justable seats, all with Isofix tether points for child seats.

The 1.6-litre turbo (121kW/ 240Nm) is a ver­sion of the award-win­ning en­gine shared with BMW and Mini, re­tuned for bet­ter low-end re­sponse.

It is paired with a new sixspeed auto with pad­dle-shifters, though progress is leisurely. It’s nearly 1900kg in full spec and does 0-100km/h in 9.3 sec­onds.

Claimed thirst is 5.6L/100km — we av­er­aged 8.7L in 300km of mixed driv­ing — and the tank holds 57L of 95 RON.

Citroen de­layed the launch so it could get the auto in­stead of the robo­tised man­ual that has copped much crit­i­cism.

The Pi­casso de­liv­ers some seg­ment firsts such as a 360de­gree view mon­i­tor. Its self­park­ing setup can fit into spots with as lit­tle as 20cm clear­ance.

Stan­dard gear in­cludes sat­nav, 17-inch al­loys, panorama glass roof, blind spot mon­i­tor, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, dig­i­tal ra­dio and du­al­zone cli­mate con­trol air­con. The spare is a space-saver.

Drive As­sist, a $2000 op­tion, adds lane de­par­ture warn­ing, smart beam func­tion, ac­tive cruise con­trol, anti-col­li­sion warn­ing and ac­tive seat belts.

Strik­ing, al­most space-age styling cloaks a smor­gas­bord of tech­nol­ogy. The cabin is dom­i­nated by the two com­puter screens and large wind­screen. The up­per, su­per-wide 12-inch screen con­tains the two main in­stru­ment di­als plus in­for­ma­tion pan­els. Choose from three themes or upload your own back­ground im­age.

The lower touch-sen­si­tive seven-inch screen con­trols all on-board and ve­hi­cle func­tions.

It’s a gad­get lover’s dream but many could find the Pi­casso daunt­ing to drive for the first time — it can take an hour to grasp how the tech­nol­ogy works. The driv­ing po­si­tion is high and all-round vi­sion is good.

The car per­forms well with two aboard. It could be a harder slog with a five aboard and large adults may not ap­pre­ci­ate the small­ish rear seats.

Ride qual­ity is sur­pris­ingly sup­ple even though the sus­pen­sion has not been tuned for lo­cal con­di­tions. Citroen says the Pi­casso is en­gi­neered to feel “just like new” even af­ter 45,000km.

VER­DICT

As good as it might be it’s a case of sell­ing the brand rather than the car. The six-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty, capped price ser­vic­ing plus road­side as­sist and the seg­ment’s largest boot (537L) cer­tainly won’t hurt.

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