Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Comfortable and practical
- Distinctive arty design
- Inexpensive to buy and maintain
- It takes time to get used to driving it
This ever-green MPV has proven so popular that even after 10 years of leading sales in Europe it's still manufactured for the South American market. Considering its flashy image, very few know that it has very humble beginnings. The Picasso was built on a prolonged platform of the compact family car, the Citroen Xsara, which in its turn was derived from an older Peugeot 306. There's nothing wrong with the aforementioned platform and it has proven itself through two decades of reliable service.
It was a clever recipe that the French designers used, use a cost effective platform with well-honed and reliable engines and put an extremely cool body on top of it.
Exterior and Interior
Its namesake, the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso would have been proud of the car. When it made its debut it was considered as more of an art form and very few thought the French would actually pluck up the courage to release this car in mass production. They did take the risk and it completely paid off. Not only does it looks remarkable, the single-volume body provides great aerodynamic features and keeps the drag coefficient down.
During its 10 year reign, the Picasso has been offered with various trim levels, the most popular are the LX, SX and Executive. Even the basic trim offers a decent range of equipment. The higher the spec, the more the car resembles a space ship, especially after 2003 when a fully-digital centre console was introduced. It displays cruising speed as a number and engine temperature or consumed fuel as a diagram. It's so full of electronic gadgets that it will even adjust the windshield wiper frequency and the volume of the audio system according to how fast you're going. It assumes that as the road noise increases, you'll want your radio louder. There isn't too much of the road noise anyway, the car is so smooth that it doesn't bother the passengers too much.
Although the image of the car screams anti-establishment and non-conformism, it is still designed to hold a certain practical value. Hauling large amounts of stuff is encouraged by foldable rear seats (opening the boot space to impressive 1970litres). The car provides 5 comfortable seats and the overall interior design leaves a good impression, although it is not as crazy as the exterior of the car.
Performance and Economy
There are no bad engines in the Picasso range. Even the smaller engines provide enough power. The petrol engines manage to provide an average of around 30mpg which is reasonable, but obviously less than the diesel variants. The best choice is the 1.6-litre HDi diesel which is more powerful than the 2.0-litre model and provides a better fuel economy. On average it will achieve 55mpg, but it is possible to get closer to 60mpg with a little effort.
Like to Drive
Not really a criticism, but the Picasso might sometimes feel like a van. It's got a very long central console, which means you'll have to get used to the visibility. The gear lever being located close to the steering wheel only adds to the van feel. However, if you're looking for a practical car, you shouldn't mind driving a "van" that looks so good.
The car offers a decent ride although you'll soon find that steering is less responsive compared to compact cars. It all takes time getting accustomed to the controls and the car's behaviour, but the Picasso is quite nice to drive and will provide excellent value for money.
Faults and Repairs
Because it is based on mechanics that's been around for years and years, the car is unlikely to develop a serious fault. It was successfully produced for 10 years and is still being produced on production lines in South America. All of this wouldn't have been possible if the car was unreliable. The younger your used Picasso is, the more electronic components it has on board. They are quite capricious and might develop mild problems, nothing too serious though. As with any other MPV, your main goal is to find one that hasn't been used as a work horse or taxi.