UK CAR Reviews: Citroen Xsara Picasso

Readers Roadtests - Citroen Xsara Picasso 2.0Hdi

The only thing that irritates about this vehicle is people referring to it as a "people carrier". 

I accept the acronym of MPV as it is exactly that- a multi-purpose vehicle 

but having no more than 5 seats, it is a normal family car. 

I have to confess to being a Citroen enthusiast, having had several BX's, a diesel Xantia and now the Picasso. 

Over the years I have owned over 45 cars in 45 years of motoring and feel that I can be objective in an assessment. 

Firstly, I chose the Picasso primarily on its fuel economy and design features. 

I drew up a list of the features that I would like for my style of motoring. 

I then made a list of cars, which came near to the requirement. 

The Picasso scored highly and I ordered one after having 2 test-drives. So far in 2600 miles the car has come up to expectations. 

The front windscreen pillar is thick and does obscure some forward vision especially at a junction when one is looking to the one or two o'clock position. 

Fuel economy has reached the +50 mpg mark now that the engine has loosened up. My only real criticism is a slow engine warm up period which results in poor heater performance for a few miles on a cold morning. 

The "thermometer type" temperature gauge only ever reaches as high as the second segment, even after a 100-mile journey. Up to 6 miles can be travelled before useful heat is available. This only occurs once the temperature gauge starts to register. In comparison with previous Citroens, this is a definite black mark. 

I mentioned the problem to the local Citroen dealer who stated that "most of the engine heat goes to keeping the emisssions down" (??) 

ED " I think they are trying to say it directs heat to the CAT to get it working quicker from cold ?? , only my guess though."

This agent told me that they are all the same and another agent told me that he had not been aware of the problem before. 

Rear seat legroom has been adequate for all passengers so far but the firmness of the seats aroused the comment that a long journey might result in a 'numb bum'. 

The shopping trolley has been used and found useful. The cubbyholes and storage compartments are a vast improvement over the Xantia's arrangements but the drivers seat cushion does restrict access to the drivers door pocket when the door is closed. 

I did think that the digital speedometer would take some getting used to however, it has proved not to be the case. The lack of a rev counter which has been commented on in other road tests is certainly no problem. In fact the whole instrument display is very good. When cycling through the fuel computer indications one has to go through the indications sometimes to reach the indication required. The ability to go forwards and backwards would be handy but I believe this is the same for all such indications. 

Being in the centre, the instruments and indicator lights do not become obscured by hands on the wheel or stalks behind the wheel.

 A disadvantage with the accessory lights is that one cannot select the rear fog light without having the front fog light on as well curious? All in all, I'm very satisfied but I do wish it would warm up more quickly. 

David Drinkwater david.drinkwater@ntl.com



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