Citroen: 2014 C4 Picasso review

Citroen: 2014 C4 Picasso review

Named after a man who took pushed the boundaries of design, the C4 Picasso follows suit with some bold exterior styling and some features drawn in the wrong place on the inside. Let’s deal with the exterior first: the LED-adorned face is as instantly recognisable and striking as any I’ve seen. There’s no doubting you’re in a Citroen. The double-stack of headlights doesn’t quite work for me from some angles – there’s a mismatch in the lines – but it is bold enough to match the deeply contoured body sides, chrome window inserts and angular 17-inch alloys, and the overall effect is one that grows on you.


Citroen C4 Picasso 2014 front interior

This is a decidedly family-focused car with a huge boot (537 litres) and spacious rear passenger area. It’s an MPV but with almost a hatchback profile. The front of the cabin has a sense of being in a conservatory with the huge dashboard approximately the size of Eden Park disappearing off towards the nose, and the sliding sun blinds allowing you to open up the sky in front of you.

The front seats are comfortable and spacious with a fold down armrest each; the back seats are much firmer and not so comfortable. They are relatively short in the back, which is fine Citroen C4 Picasso 2014 central binnaclefor kids, but adults might not find them suitable for really long journeys.

There’s a useful removable central binnacle with plenty of space, plus a large compartment in the middle of the dashboard with media connections. Under both the front seats is a storage area big enough for computer tablets or other slim items.

User interface design in cars is in its formative years. We will see an explosion and diversity of means and methods of controlling vehicle functions as manufacturers experiment with what works best. BMW uses a combined wheel/joystick and Lexus uses a Citroen C4 Picasso 2014 dashboard touchscreenjoystick with computer mouse-style buttons, but both still use plenty of buttons and knobs to allow you to control different features. The C4 Picasso takes it one step too far: the only way of controlling the air conditioning is to navigate to it and then push non-descript parts of the touchscreen.

To do this I had to take my eyes off the road every time. I can’t do it using the pseudo-braille of physical, tactile buttons, and therefore this is dangerous (in my opinion). In fact, other than the usual options that are on steering-wheel-mounted stalks like the indicators and lights, the only thing you can do with a knob is changed the volume.

Items that I wanted to change frequenCitroen C4 Picasso 2014 gearsticktly (air conditioning, automatic stop/start and radio station) were frustratingly obfuscated beneath a layer of touch sensitivity that required unnecessary accuracy. For example, the buttons that surround the 7-inch screen are also touch-sensitive with no tactile delineation and I often found myself fumbling several times to press it in the right place.

The touchscreen serves as the display for the reversing camera. There are rear parking sensors, too, but none in the front. All media functions are accessed through it, including the ability to make phone calls on your Bluetooth-connected phone. It supports audio streaming, and contains 8Gb of storage for your music.

The gear lever utilises a plastick-y stick rising above the steering wheel. There’s a handbrake button, but you don’t need it as the C4 applies the handbrake every time you come to a halt; as soon as you push the accelerator it releases. On its own, this is occasionally jerky; with the automatic stop/start you don’t notice it as much. However, the auto stop/start is excellent in some scenarios (driving between traffic lights, for example), but frustratingly slow when, for example, creeping towards a busy roundabout or intersection when you really want the engine to stay running, not cut out – as I mentioned before, a simple button to disable it rather than burying it in layers of touchscreen fiddliness would have been much better.

Apart from those stop/start issues, the ride itself is nice and soft like an MPV should be, but not overly wallowy. There’s 120kW from the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine which hums away quite quietly somewhere underneath that gigantic dashboard. There’s both cruise control and a speed limiter available on the steering wheel. The trip computer is accessed by pushing a button on the end of one of the stalks on the steering wheel and it displays on the touchscreen.

Therefore the verdict, unfortunately, is that the choice of interface mars what would be an otherwise solid performer. The C4 Picasso handles delicately with its smooth suspension and it oozes practicality. Being based on the EMP2 platform shared by Citroen, Peugeot, and alliance-partner GM, means that the C4 Picasso is priced very well, but you will need to try it yourself to see whether the way it operates paints the right picture for you.

Price: $38,990

Pros

  • Family-focused and spacious
  • Smooth ride

Cons

  • Obstructive interface
  • Electric automatic handbrake can be jerky


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