Flight simulators are designed to make you feel like you’re in an aeroplane, but without the imminent danger of some nutcase trying to stab you or detonate a bomb in their sneakers.
To fool the eye into believing you’re in the plane you need a wrap around screen that encompasses pretty much your whole field of vision, and a healthy dose of technology in the form of buttons and blinking lights.
Enter the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. From your position as captain of this craft, in the armchair-style seats with their fold-down armrests your view of the road ahead is magnificent. The huge windows and soft suspension give an almost surreal sense of being in a simulator.
The fact that you don’t see any bodywork of the car from the driver’s seat, except for the wing mirrors completes the effect and any other car that’s not a convertible feels positively claustrophobic. The windscreen, which is almost as steeply raked as the bonnet, recedes above you like Prince Charles’ hairline, while innovative sun visors lie ready and waiting to slide forward to reduce glare.
Get used to some quirky (but perfectly acceptable) French placement of controls in the Picasso. The gearstick is on the top of the steering column — it feels natural when you’re used to it — and you can set it to M for manual, which allows use of the paddle change sequential shift. Even when in full auto you can override the gear by using the paddles — handy to get the car ready for overtaking.
All instrumentation is centrally mounted, and either side of the dashboard conceals large cubby holes with rubber-lined dividers for all manner of objects that might ordinarily slide around the cabin. This means there’s no central binnacle, which gives much more legroom to a passenger in the middle seat in the back. Fold down armrests for driver and passenger substitute for the elbow-resting abilities lost in the binnacle’s omission.
The handbrake is a button in the centre of the dash and, while slow to engage and disengage, it works well in conjunction with the hill start function that holds the brakes on until you push the accelerator when starting on an incline.
The MP3-compatible single-CD player sits behind a flip-up fascia in the centre of the dash. The main screen displays functions for the unit, and with the Picasso’s large expanse of glass and relatively flat wide dashboard a decent, punchy sound can be gleaned from it with a bit of tweaking.
There are more buttons on the steering wheel than you can count — audio controls, menu controls, cruise control, speed limiter and internal instrumentation lighting.
The horn isn’t the whole steering wheel but a thin strip of plastic around the bottom of the steering wheel boss which, incidentally, stays fixed while the steering wheel itself moves. Lamp illumination for the headlights and indicators sit just above the steering wheel boss, not on the dashboard. A perfume dispenser resides between the two central air vents, and the air conditioning controls are near the door.
The air conditioning is one of the highlights of the Picasso. It is quad zone. That means you, your passenger and two lucky back-seat passengers can choose a different temperature and fan speed on a digital readout. There are even vents for the third row of passengers. The C4 Picasso is a seven-seater — two children can fit in the back, and there is still some space remaining in the boot (both underneath the floor where the rear seats are stowed, and behind the rear seats.) A second wide-angle rear view mirror enables you to keep an eye on the whole car’s interior.
Six airbags, ESP and the usual electronics to assist you in an emergency are included as standard.
ne of the features I like the most is the removable rechargeable torch in the boot. It doubles as a boot light while in its slot.
On the back of the driver’s and passenger’s seat are two airline-style fold-down trays with a cup recess and elasticated strap, and each rear door window has a pull up sun blind.
Hopefully that’s established for you that on the inside the C4 Picasso comes with all the trimmings. So what’s it like to drive?
Our test model had the turbo diesel that creates 100kW and 270Nm of torque — the torque makes for quick acceleration off the line, but the lack of horsepower starts to show above 50kph, giving a 12.2s dash to 100kph. The diesel is quiet enough on the inside and the ambient noise while travelling is quite low.
Handling dynamics are set up for comfort, though. It has a beautifully compliant ride at any speed on most surfaces, but exhibits early understeer at speed — it’s definitely a cruiser rather than a racer, as you’d expect. At low speeds the steering is light. Manoeuvring is simple in reverse because of the reversing sensors, but trickier going forwards as it’s impossible to tell where the front of the car is.
Does the Citroen crash and burn, or does it soar through the stratosphere of people movers?
The C4 Picasso really is a triumph of passenger-friendly engineering. Given all the technology and functionality you get for your $49,990, it represents great value for money.
Click through to the next page to view full specs of the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
Price: from $49,990
What we like:
- Everything except for¦
What we don’t like:
- Can’t see the front — needs some more sensors to aid manoeuvring
- Understeers easily
Words and photos Darren Cottingham
|2.0 SX Auto||2.0 HDI Auto||2.0 SX Auto||2.0 HDI Auto|
|Engine||Comfort and Convenience|
|4 speed Auto transmission||â—||—||Steering wheel, height and tilt adjustable||â—||â—|
|6 speed Auto transmission||—||â—||Windscreen, wide angle, panoramic||â—||â—|
|Power (kW/rpm) EEC||103/6000||100/4000||Steering wheel mounted controls||â—||â—|
|Torque (Nm/rpm) EEC||200/4000||270/2000||Rear air suspension||o||o|
|Fuel tank||60||60||Steering wheel, fixed hub||â—||â—|
|Length (mm)||4590||4590||Dual climate control aircon, front and rear||â—||â—|
|Width (mm)||1830||1830||Pollen and particulate filter||â—||â—|
|Height with/ without roof rails (mm)||1680/1710 1680/1710||Air quality sensor||â—||â—|
|Fuel flap, automatic||â—||â—|
|Weights/ Capacities (kg)||Rain sensing wipers||â—||â—|
|Kerb weight||1600||1620||Electric side mirrors||â—||â—|
|Gross weight||2260||2320||Electric front and rear windows||â—||â—|
|Front rear weight distribution||935/665||970/650||Sun blinds, row 2 seats||â—||â—|
|Gross train weight||3660||3620||Opening tailgate window||o||o|
|Payload||660||700||Picnic trays on back of front seats||â—||â—|
|Towing weight unbraked||750||750||Roof rails||â—||â—|
|Towing weight braked with/ without weight transfer||1400/1500 1300/1500||Seven seats||â—||â—|
|Max roof rail load on hooks/on roof bars||60/80||70/80||three individual folding/sliding rear seats in row 2||â—||â—|
|Two fold flat/sliding individual seats in row 3||â—||â—|
|Safety and Security||Height and angle adjustable front headrests||â—||â—|
|ABS with EBD and EBA||â—||â—||Height adjustable headrests||â—||â—|
|ESP with ASR traction control||â—||â—||Driver’s seat height adjustment||â—||â—|
|Rear parking sensors||â—||â—||Front centre arm rests||â—||â—|
|Adaptive twin front airbags||â—||â—||CD Radio with six speakers||â—||â—|
|Di k ibDriver knee airbag||â—â—||â—â—||Di it l d t d tDigital speedometer and rev counter||â—â—||â—â—|
|Front side airbags||â—||â—||Service indicator||â—||â—|
|Full length curtain airbags||â—||â—||Exterior temperature gauge with ice alert||â—||â—|
|Child surveillance Mirror||â—||â—||Trip computer||â—||â—|
|Electric child lock indicator||â—||â—||Black panel function||â—||â—|
|Electric park brake (EPB)||â—||â—||Multi colour instrument displace||â—||â—|
|Electric windows, anti pinch||â—||â—||Body coloured bumper inserts, side rubbings,|
|Activation of hazard lights when sudden braking||â—||â—||door handles and door mirrors||â—||â—|
|Power steering, variable assistance||â—||â—||17″ Alloy wheels||â—||â—|
|with force limiters||â—||â—||Panoramic glass sun roof||o||o|
|Remote central locking with dead locks||â—||â—||Premium Pack||o||o|
|Remote headlight operation||â—||â—||Metallic or pearlescent paint||o||o|
|Seat warning for all seats||â—||â—|
|Transponder immobilizer||â—||â—||3 year/100,000 kilometres||â—||â—|
|3 year 24 hour roadside assistance||â—||â—|
|Storage||12 year corrosion warranty||â—||â—|
|Twin dashboard top lockers||â—||â—||3 year paint warranty||â—||â—|
|Front and rear bottle storage lockers||â—||â—|
|Under floor lockers in seat row 2||â—||â—|
|Right hand storage locker for row 3||â—||â—|
|Front seat back pockets||â—||â—||â— = Standard||o = Optional||— = Not available|
|Illuminated front glove box||â—||â—|
|Airconditioned front centre locker||â—||â—|
|Luggage area retractable cover||â—||â—|
|Lighting and Visibility|
|Headlights, Halogen, height adjustable||â—||â—|
|Remote operation of headlights||â—||â—|
|Puddle lights under door mirrors||â—||â—|
|Interior lights for all three seat rows||â—||â—|
|Boot mounted rechargeable torch||â—||â—|