Picasso paints a perfect picture

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Citroen has a lot of MPV products on its books these days but none of them get the essentials as right as the C3 Picasso.

The marque’s people carriers have always been spacious and good value but questionable technology features and lacklustre driving dynamics have often let the side down.

The C3 Picasso ditches the gimmicks and goes for a clean, stylish design that’s underpinned by excellent driving dynamics and masses of good, honest interior space.

It’s the diesel engines we’re concentrating on here and that means Citroen’s 1.6-litre HDi stalwarts.

The two engine options are essentially the same common-rail diesel unit but in two different states of tune.

The 90bhp HDi 90 option delivers its peak power at 4,000rpm with maximum torque of 218Nm generated at a lowly 1,750rpm, while the HDi 110 alternative produces 109bhp and 240Nm at identical engine speeds.

In the C3 Picasso, it spells sprightly performance and even the HDi 90 engine has acceleration available across a wide spread of the rev range.

You don’t find yourself snatching for another gear to maintain progress, although things are likely to get trickier when the car’s prodigious interior is fully-loaded.

Citroen’s creation isn’t particularly long compared to its direct rivals but at 1730mm, it is very wide.

With the front seat adjusted for a six-footer to drive, there’s still plenty of legroom behind and more headroom than anyone bar the ludicrously tall would ever need.

The front seat can be raised to give commanding, almost 4x4-style driving position which many buyers will like but that does make the handbrake hard to reach.

The C3 Picasso gains a further edge over its rivals with a monstrous boot of up to 500-litres that extends to 1,560 litres with the rear seats folded.

Folding the seats to create a flat load floor can be done with one hand and there’s even a compartment under the boot floor to stow the parcel shelf in.

The C3 Picasso is a formidable competitor in the supermini MPV segment and in diesel guise, it’s at its most desirable.

There’s room for improvement in the interior and with the weighting of some of the controls but anyone in the market for a small MPV should give this one serious consideration.

The rest have got some catching up to do.