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The 2013 C4 Pi­casso is the first car based on Citroën’s all-new mod­u­lar plat­form that will un­der­pin the brand’s up­com­ing mid-size and large ve­hi­cles, and it’s mighty im­pres­sive, writes

Matt Joy

There’s only one

prob­lem with suc­cess, and that’s how to fol­low it. It’s a tricky one al­right; the first-gen­er­a­tion Citroën Pi­casso (based on the Xsara) was a solid-gold hit and sold by the shipload in Europe thanks to keen pric­ing and tons of space. The next gen­er­a­tion did well too, but had tougher ri­vals to con­tend with. Now there’s a brand new C4 Pi­casso MPV, and once again it faces a dif­fi­cult task. The com­pe­ti­tion is hot­ter than ever, and buy­ers are more de­mand­ing than ever too. Just hav­ing space isn’t enough; com­fort, at­trac­tive de­sign and fuel ef­fi­ciency ap­pear on the shop­ping lists of most — this is a tough crowd to please. This new C4 Pi­casso is a much more so­phis­ti­cated ve­hi­cle how­ever. The key ad­vance is that it is the first of a se­ries of Citroëns to use the new EMP2 plat­form. Be­cause of its mod­u­lar de­sign it can be length­ened to cre­ate a whole range of ve­hi­cles and it’s also been cre­ated to save weight; the new C4 Pi­casso is 140kg lighter than the pre­vi­ous ver­sion de­pend­ing on the model. De­spite this, Citroën claims it is stronger and stiffer than the out­go­ing car, which is good news for oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion in the event of a crash.

140KG Thanks to the all-new mod­u­lar plat­form, the C4 Pi­casso is no­tice­ably lighter now

Im­por­tant stuff then, but it’s the out­side that will get your at­ten­tion first. Much more than a box on wheels, the C4 Pi­casso has a large glass area and slim LED head­lights that help to cre­ate a more dis­tinc­tive look. It’s clearly re­lated to the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion model but with more char­ac­ter; it’s cer­tainly ben­e­fit­ted from the im­pres­sively stylish DS mod­els else­where in the range. You can have one parked on your drive and your neigh­bours won’t au­to­mat­i­cally as­sume that you’ve given up on life be­cause you now have chil­dren, which is surely the point.

This is an MPV how­ever, so it’s the in­side that mat­ters most. The first thing you no­tice is the amount of light com­ing into the cabin, par­tic­u­larly with the glass roof, and the wind­screen ex­tends al­most over the heads of the front seat oc­cu­pants.

There are lots of clever fea­tures, such as an air­line-style footrest for the front pas­sen­ger and 40 litres of un­der-floor stor­age, while the rear seats are di­vided into three and fold eas­ily, which makes the space very ver­sa­tile.

Citroën has also made a big noise about the lay­out of the dash­board, which does away with con­ven­tional in­stru­ments and in­stead gives you two large screens.

The up­per one can dis­play all sorts of in­for­ma­tion as well as im­ages uploaded from a USB stick (if you wish) and is con­fig­urable in nu­mer­ous ways, while the lower one is a touch­screen and con­trols many of the ve­hi­cle func­tions. It all looks smart and gen­er­ally works well, al­though some­times you are re­quired to push a but­ton on the steer­ing wheel to con­firm a choice, which can be con­fus­ing at first. Un­der the bon­net there’s a choice of two petrol and three diesel en­gines, but it’s the 1.6-litre turbo petrol mo­tor de­vel­op­ing 155bhp that’s the star of the show. It’s much more re­fined than the diesels and sur­pris­ingly fru­gal, too. But it is the C4 Pi­casso’s ex­cel­lent ride that re­ally im­presses. It soaks up bumps well and with­out be­com­ing too soft in the cor­ners; it be­haves like a much big­ger car. Press on and it hangs in gamely but that’s not what it’s best at — in­stead sail along on the torque of the engine, en­joy the panoramic view and let the sus­pen­sion deal with all the road im­per­fec­tions. It’s good from be­hind the wheel and your mul­ti­ple pas­sen­gers will thank you for it too. Com­pared to its key ri­vals the C4 Pi­casso cer­tainly looks smart, is well-equipped and im­pres­sively ver­sa­tile. It may be a frac­tion be­hind in ab­so­lute dy­nam­ics but it more than makes up for this with the good ride, ar­guably more im­por­tant in a car such as this. Maybe Citroën has an­other suc­cess story on its hands.

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