Wednesday, 17 August 2022

New Picasso’s wired in to our ‘smart’ future

Test car: Citroën C4 Picasso Exclusive Blue HDi 150 Automatic

CERTAIN prominent European carmakers — with the French to the fore — see a superhighway to the future populated by driverless cars packed with gizmos and gadgets.

That is the only possible conclusion one can come to after driving the 2015 Citroën C4 Picasso.

Last week I wrote about a car that stirred traditional feelings in me about what makes a car a pleasure to drive. These emotions were rooted in a long association with the motor car as we have known it.

The C4, with its dual screens twinkling and dominating a futuristic dashboard, indicates the possibilities of cars to come.

Just as the digital world marches on with ever better computers, tablets and mobile phones, so too the car industry is advancing at an extraordinary rate.

If you have not driven a new car — I mean the very latest model — in the past few years then the chances are you will not know what I am talking about.

Yet the advances in car technology continue apace and this Citroën C4 Picasso Exclusive Blue HDi 150 Automatic, to give it its full title, bears witness to the fact.

Take its integral parts, beginning with the all-important interior. At first sight this may appear to be a car as we have known it. But climb inside and you are aware of the possibilities in car design and function that will eventually turn all cars into new and more exciting machines.

Cars are becoming an extension of the other digital things that dominate our lives — computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. The possibilities are endless. No wonder Citroën’s brand slogan is “créative technologie” and no wonder too, that What Car? magazine made the C4 its best MPV of 2015.

The sweep of the dashboard dominates the front end of the car’s interior. A panoramic windscreen that soars high above the driver and front passenger’s eyeline lights this naturally.

But at the heart of this spread of techy knowhow is a seven-inch Touch Drive Interface. The idea is that this bright object gives you instant control of everything from air-conditioning to audio controls.

Some models, like the test car, also have a 12-inch panoramic HD display offering for example a large view of the colour reversing camera and navigation information.

So for the technically inclined you have not one but two screens to satisfy the geek in you.

As the idea is that Citroën customers choose what they want in the C4 they can turn to a variety of options known as packs. So the Serenity Pack includes lane departure warning system, intelligent beam headlights, active radar-guided cruise control (with collision alert), active seatbelt safety system and electrochrome rear view mirror.

On the outside, the car is thankfully understated in design. I say thankfully because I think the C4 Picasso of not so long ago was wanting on its exterior looks. This 2015 model is stylish and handsome in its understated way.

One is the excellent rear LED lights that first appeared on concept cars. The deep 3D effect creates a futuristic feel. The streamlined headlights are highlighted by daytime running LED lights that extend the line of the radiator grille.

It’s as if, in this brave new world of motoring, on the C4 every aspect of driving is up for a rethink. Why does the gearchange lever have to be heavy and cumbersome and require a whole hand to move?

Not so on the C4. The gear change lever, for example, is no heavier than the turning indicators and positioned high on top of the dashboard. Its function is simply done (and there is a manual mode and paddle gears as an option).

The accent on this car is that it transports a family safely with the emphasis on comfort. There are five seats and a bigger version of the C4 provides seating for seven.

The driving position is high with good command of the road. Personally I find the panoramic windscreen exposes me to too much light but this is a matter of personal taste. What is intriguing is that the panoramic screen is another take on the windscreen which otherwise has not changed on cars in decades.

And that is the point with the C4. You get the impression that its designers are up for looking at anything and everything in the conventional car with a view to changing it — for the better, of course.

Fact File:

Citroën C4 Picasso Picasso Exclusive BlueHDi 150 AutomaticCost of test car: £26,930Including Kyanos Blue metallic paint £520Warranty: 3 years, 60,000 milesFive star Euro NCAP safety ratingCO2 emissions: 117g/kmEngine capacity: 1997ccSix-speed automatic gearboxMax speed: 129mph0-62mph: 10.2 secs

Test car: Citroën C4 Picasso Exclusive Blue HDi 150 Automatic

Test car: Citroën C4 Picasso Exclusive Blue HDi 150 Automatic

Cost of test car: £26,930

Including Kyanos Blue metallic paint £520

Warranty: 3 years, 60,000 miles

Five star Euro NCAP safety rating

CO2 emissions: 117g/km

Engine capacity: 1,997cc

Six-speed automatic gearbox

Max speed: 129mph

0-62mph: 10.2 secs

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