It sounds as if Citroën sees it's new C3 Picasso as a rolling contradiction in terms. According to the automaker, it is compact and spacious and blends strength and comfort; quality and affordability; performance and economy; contemporary and retro design; square shapes and flowing curves and style and practicality. All right, we can give them style and practicality, which the peculiar C3 seems to offer in spades -- though the French people mover is stylish in the same way it's namesake's paintings are a beautiful, if not an acquired taste. After reading through Citroën's press release, pasted after the break, it sounds as if there are plenty of innovative storage options as well. We do like how the automaker revels in its own quirkiness and was able to make the cockpit seem so bright and airy with all that glass. Four engines will be offered, two gas and two diesel. Look for more when we visit Paris later this month.
THE CITROËN C3 PICASSO: WHEN OPPOSITES ATTRACT
Citroën's new baby-MPV, the C3 Picasso, will be making its first public debut at next month's Paris Motor Show, before a UK launch in 2009. The C3 Picasso will be the third Citroën to join the Company's award-winning Picasso family.
Far from the average MPV, the C3 Picasso's 'magic box' charm lies in the way it is both compact and spacious and also brings together many other opposing qualities - strength and comfort, quality and affordability, performance and economy, contemporary and retro design, square shapes and flowing curves and, significantly, style and practicality.
The new C3 Picasso offers class-leading space, intelligent and quirky design, modular seat layout, intuitive storage solutions, dynamic engines co-developed with BMW, and all the comfort, technology and safety you'd expect of a Citroën MPV. It will also fit comfortably alongside the Xsara and C4 Picassos within Citroën's - 2008's best selling MPV brand in Europe – portfolio.
Bursting forth from the ordinary with its unique, cheeky, character, bubbly personality and charming good looks, the C3 Picasso benefits from a new direction in body design, blending the roomy, versatile shapes of an MPV with the quality, agility and comfort of an SUV and at the same time, challenging the preconceived notions of the compact MPV segment.
Small outside, big inside
Citroën's celebrated range of family cars is renowned for providing occupants with generous levels of space and the C3 Picasso is no exception. Measuring 4.08m long, 1.73m wide and 1.62m tall, the car's striking cube-like body shape, with short front end and vertical rear, creates an expansive space in the cabin whilst smooth, rounded curves soften the contours and give the car a happy appearance – an expression further exemplified by the impish grin of its 'smiling headlamps'.
With the Picasso's intuitive modular design, interior space is optimised quickly and simply. To increase either boot volume or rear legroom the split-folding rear seats slide back and forth independently and can also be folded away with one effortless hand movement. This function provides an entirely flat load surface which extends right up to the front seatbacks and can be further extended – to over 2.41m – by folding the back of the front passenger seat completely down.
Unrivalled in its roominess, the cabin length measures 1.66m – one of the longest in its class and a rival for a number of MPVs in the segment above. Knee room is plentiful even with the rear bench moved forward and by using slim seat backs and bases on the front seats, rear passengers are afforded even more space. Elbow room in the front and rear is 1.43m and 1.40m respectively, another best for the segment.
There is plenty of rear storage space on offer with 500-litres under the parcel shelf, the C3 Picasso's boot is one of the biggest in the segment, and with the rear bench down this aperture increases to an expansive 1,506-litres.
The C3 Picasso also features a removable boot floor, an intelligent addition to the vehicle's overall versatility, which can be positioned at two different levels. In its high position the floor sits level with the boot sill for making loading easier and in the low position, more storage height is available in the rear.
When the rear seats are folded down, a flat loading surface is created right up to the back of the front seats and magnetic flaps fitted to the backs of the rear seats extend the flat surface between the bench and the boot floor. Whatever the positions of the seats, a three-part luggage cover, which can be stored under the boot floor, completely conceals the boot contents.
The C3 Picasso's cabin also features a number of ingenious and practical storage solutions like nifty cubby holes, pen holders, non-slip surfaces and even a map holder – a place for each object and passenger. The glove box is ventilated on air-conditioned models and aircraft-style trays can also be installed in the rear with reading lights and cup holders.
With one of the largest glazed areas in the segment – up to 4.52m2 – the C3 Picasso is a bright and spacious place to be. Drivers are afforded a commanding and unobstructed view of the road thanks to the high-set seating position and the car's three-part panoramic windscreen with its slim pillars creating a side vision angle of 29.5° - another best in the segment. A panoramic glass roof is also available which allows even more light to soak into the cabin enhancing the feeling of well being.
The C3 Picasso's cabin places special attention on perceived quality, setting the MPV apart from its rivals, with ultra-soft dashboard surface materials, carefully considered decors and the layout of the premium graining.
Providing a portable light-source in case of emergency there is a neat dual-function portable flash light available. Built into the boot where it functions as a boot light, the smart gadget can be removed and used as a hand-held torch which is recharged when placed back in its mounting.
A 'wink' shaped cluster is positioned, in classic MPV style, on the central axis of the vehicle so that all passengers have access to cabin information, angled slightly toward the driver, who also benefits from a translucent eye-shaped area with driver information.
As with the instrument cluster, the ergonomic and practical design of the controls enhances the driving experience with an easy-to-reach dash-mounted gear stick and adjustable seat and steering wheel.
Robust and agile with a remarkably compact design, Citroën's latest MPV is perfect for city driving with its vertical rear end making parking easy. Manoeuvrability and a tight turning circle make the nimble C3 Picasso an asset in congested areas and saloon car like road holding with an uncompromised driving position, thanks to the 3-part panoramic windscreen, leaves the driver feeling confident.
The designers of the C3 Picasso also paid special attention to the acoustics resulting in excellent sound insulation for occupants. Soundproofing was focussed at the source of the noise with emphasis on reducing the higher pitched sounds. Citroën also took great care in sealing the vehicle with high performance inflated inserts and double sealing around the body apertures, bringing an immediate perceptible cut in outside noise.
With easier and safer driving in mind a range of aids are available, such as rear parking assist, speed limiter/cruise control and integrated navigation system.
Citroën's new NaviDrive system features a 7-inch colour widescreen, the latest Europe wide satellite navigation software with live traffic updates, MP3/WMA-compatible audio CD player and a Bluetooth® hands-free kit. iPod players can also be connected via an auxiliary jack.
Citroën's award-winning range of family vehicles has consistently held a strong reputation for being safe and secure and the C3 Picasso is no exception. With ESP available and all-round protection from up to six airbags (front, side and curtain), active restraint systems, a seatbelt warning system, ABS with EBD and EBA, automatic hazard warning lights, Isofix anchor points, automatic locking on the rear doors and windows and a special child rear-view mirror, the C3 Picasso is a safe, family friendly environment.
Meeting the needs of MPV customers looking for agile city performance coupled with long-distance fuel economy, the C3 Picasso will be available with a choice of two new petrol engines and two HDi diesel units.
The two petrol units – VTi 95 and VTi 120 – are from the new-generation of engines developed in partnership with BMW and combine efficient economy with responsive performance and lowered CO2 emissions – the VTi 120 already complies with future Euro 5 pollution standards. Both diesel units – the HDi 90 and HDi 110 DPFS – are from Citroën's impressive HDi line up and boast low combined-cycle CO2 emissions of 125g/km and 130g/km respectively.