Comfortable, secure and refined, with a useful range of engines - but no automatic version
Smart interior and excellent all-round visibility
Only the upper two trims gets side and curtain airbags, and stability control
The C3 Picasso gets the thumbs up for reliablity in recent surveys
Rear legroom could be better but C3 Picasso is generally roomy, with a big boot
The lower-spec model is short on kit, so it's worth paying more to upgrade
Thanks to its supple suspension, the C3 Picasso calmly wafts along, and though the soft set-up also causes the car to bob up and down on undulating roads, it's stays pretty well controlled on tight bends. Its light steering is particularly handy round town and weights up reassuringly at speeds; it doesn't offer the same sense of connection with the wheels as a Ford B-Max does, though. If you can stretch to it, our engine choice would be the 1.6-litre petrol, whose easy swiftness makes life easy wherever you're driving; the cheaper 1.4 is worth considering if most of your driving is round town but bear in mind it feels a bit weedy on faster roads. Both diesel engines are strong, with plenty of oomph whenever you need it.
The C3 Picasso is only available with a manual gearbox, and this isn't the slickest on the market, with quite a lot of travel in the gearshift. Otherwise the C3 Picasso is very refined and quiet, with only a bit of wind noise disturbing the piece, particularly from the roof bars on the range-topping Exclusive model.
The Citroen's cabin is bright, airy and comfortable, and decked out with nicely textured plastics, metallic highlights and a digital instrument display on top of the dashboard. All-round vision is excellent thanks to the car's large windows and slim pillars. It's just a pity that the steering wheel obscures part of the well-organised centre console. The C3 Picasso is only slightly longer than a conventional supermini but it's high roofline allows more upright seating and a generous boot which can easily swallow all manner of pushchairs. The rear bench is split 60:40, with the two sections able to slide back and forth so you can adjust the bias towards the occupants' legroom or the boot, and the rear seats fold flat in a jiffy if you need even more space. The tall body shape and wide door openings make it easy to get in and out, and the raised seats are a bonus when loading children. Every C3 Picasso comes with front electric windows, a CD player and remote central locking, but you have to upgrade to VTR+ cars for rear electric windows, alloys and air-con. Top of the range is Exclusive trim, which brings climate control, electric folding mirrors, rear parking sensors and a mirror that lets you check what the kids are up to in the back.
Top-of-the-range versions have a special rear-view mirror to let you see what the kids are up to in the back.
Owners rated the pre-facelifted C3 Picasso as 'above average' in the 2013 JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, and the car came 13th out of 38 manufacturers in What Car?'s latest reliability survey. The cheapest trim has limited safety kit, though, so we'd upgrade to mid-range VTR+ trim to get side and curtain airbags (which cover the rear windows too) and stability control. What's more, the C3 Picasso scored only four out of the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, with 81% for adults and 76% for children. All models have Isofix child seat mounting points fitted to the two outer seats in the back.
The C3 Picasso makes a great little family car, but it isn't that cheap and you'll need to go for the mid-range VTR+ trim or higher to get air-con, extra airbags and stability control. However, Citroen dealers are famous for giving big discounts, so with a bit of haggling you should be able to get the price down by at least a couple of thousand pounds, if not more. Running costs should be low, no matter which version you choose, but bear in mind that the C3 Picasso won't hold its value particularly well.