"Our week with the C3 Picasso showed it in a very positive light."
Rather than embarking on some epic trans-Sahara road trip, slogging from Lands End to John 'o' Groats or striking out across Eastern Europe to Budapest on the shores of the Danube, there's a lot to be said for testing a car in more everyday circumstances. As well as being cheaper and less time-consuming to keep the editor onside, it should, in theory, expose the same issues that owners will encounter on their own daily routes. That's unless they happen to commute across the Mongolian Steppe every morning or do their grocery shopping at that 24-hour Tescos on top of the Stelvio Pass. The story might not be as dramatic, and for that we apologise in advance, but a week of daily grind with the C3 Picasso has certainly proved enlightening. Monday morning and we're off, stumbling bleary-eyed out of bed with the working week looming ahead like an iceberg in the fog. The C3 Picasso's first task is the 30-minute journey to work through the massed ranks of demoralized commuters. In traffic, the Picasso's all-round visibility is a major help. It sits you quite upright which may not be to the liking of some but it certainly aids your view of the surroundings. The innovative glazed A-pillars are extremely handy when negotiating roundabouts or pulling out of angled junctions. They increase your field of vision and stop you having to rock your head backwards and forwards to see around bends as you do in cars with wide solid pillars.
In stop-start traffic, the Picasso's long throw gearbox isn't particularly rewarding to use but engine refinement improves as the diesel unit in our car gets up to operating temperature. The suspension deals admirably with the scabby road surfaces in our urban centres and it's hard to think of a vehicle of the Picasso's size that rides more smoothly. A midweek shopping trip presents the Picasso with the kind of task for which it was created. In the car park, the short bonnet and virtually flat back end make parking a cinch. The Picasso's light steering and tight turning circle help it to slide effortlessly into even the tightest spaces. Having conducted the supermarket sweep, the shopping fitted relatively easy into the Picasso's boot but a word of warning. The impressive dimensions of the boot that Citroen quotes don't tell the whole story because the space is quite tall and shallow. There isn't actually that much floor area and you may have to stack items or fold down the rear seats if you go too wild in the aisles. Out on Friday with three passengers in tow and the Picasso's people carrying capacity comes under the microscope. This is a real strong suit for the little Citroen with abundant headroom for all occupants and legroom in the rear being almost as generous. There aren't many cars of this size that could seat three six-foot adults in the rear but this one can - just about. There are lots of storage options in the cabin as well and it generally feels well thought out on Citroen's part. A motorway journey on Saturday gave the Picasso a chance to stretch its legs and show that it was more than just an urban runabout. That comfortable ride was in evidence again and the engine proved more than willing to keep up with traffic, even if it took a bit of time to pick up speed when required. The controls are well laid-out and the dashboard follows the design themes of the car's exterior with the rounded-off rectangle shapes cropping up on the display screens and air vents. The instrument display on top of the dash takes some getting used to as it's not the natural position but being higher up, it means you can glance at it quickly without taking your eyes off the road. Most of the C3's controls are straightforward but the stereo module that pops up on lots of Citroen products is behind the times. The buttons are tightly packed, too fiddly and the control interface isn't intuitive to use but you get the hang of it over time. Our week with the C3 Picasso showed it in a very positive light. It's got a lot more style about it than the majority of small MPVs but that doesn't come at the expense of practicality. There's loads of space inside and although the boot's floor area is small, rear passenger space is excellent and there are lots of storage options. On the road, it's a comfortable experience with a well-judged ride and both manoeuvrability and visibility are top class.
Facts at a Glance
Facts At A Glance CAR: Citroen C3 Picasso range PRICES: £13,490-£17,720 - on the road INSURANCE GROUPS: 13-16 CO2 EMISSIONS: 101-115g/km PERFORMANCE: [BlueHDi 100] 0-62mph 13.3s / Max Speed 111mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: [BlueHDi 100] (combined) 72.4mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front airbags, ABS, ESP WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE: length/width/heightmm 4080/1730/1620