Thursday 23 January 2020

Picasso may not be beautiful, but it's a real work of art

DRUM roll please ... it's that time of the year again when we can poke the motoring establishment in the eye and pee in its pocket.

Yes, it can only be the announcement of the shortlist of the Irish Motor Writers' Association Car of the Year Awards.

And, of course, like every other year the selection is completely bonkers.

For example, do any of the judges from the IMWA honestly believe that the Dacia Sandero deserves to be on the best list of anything.

I would sooner put my head in a deep fat fryer than climb inside any Dacia on the very simple basis they are the worst built car in the world.

The Dacia Duster was a car that terrified the life out of me it was so bad, and the Sandero I am told, is no better – just cheaper.

The IMWA will point to a price tag of under €10k and I will point to a go-cart my kids made at home from two skateboards and a plank of wood which cost them €20, but that hasn't made it.



Impressively the judges have left out the car which has been selected as the Auto Express Car of the Year – the Seat Leon (as reviewed by my trusty sidekick). But it hasn't even managed to make it to the shortlist of the IMWA's version.

Neither has the Range Rover Evoque, despite winning the Best Compact SUV award with Auto Express.

A major headline here too is the fact that there are no Audis, the top luxury manufacturer in recent years, nor are there any Mercs, the most improved brand of all.

The good news is that one of my cars of the year, the Citroen C4 Picasso has made it on the list, as has the Kia Carens and the recently re-released, all-new Peugeot 208 GTi.

But it's the C4 Picasso I want to talk to you about, and what an extraordinary success from one of the great car designers of recent years, who regularly lash out some extraordinary styling.

Take the squinting lights that blend into the grille with the double chevron for example, which could well be a feature on all of the French marque's future models.

The Citroen C4 Picasso doesn't immediately knock you out with its looks but it certainly has an alluring characteristic that pleases the eye.

It is also way more practical than that, too.

One of the most important features of any mid-range car today is comfort, surprisingly under-rated, in that we all notice when a car is deeply uncomfortable, but rarely pass comment when it is indeed luxurious.

Well this was luxurious in the lie back and enjoy the ride kind of way – there were armrests for goodness sake.

Another great feature with the Citroen is the interior design and layout, and here is a car with a dash that's every bit as magnificent as Manhattan at night with lots of alluring lights and colour.

There is a 7in Touch Screen, which did appeal but which I found ridiculously complicated. Changing the radio station became a near life or death experience as I was forced to scroll through the alphabet for the stations.

The real wow factor for anyone who got inside was the front window which seemed to go on forever, it was panoramic and almost supersonic.

The good news for those afraid of too much light is that the ceiling could be pulled forward to shorten the length of the windscreen, but it was an impressive toy.

For the little 'uns onboard, there are three separate, isofix compatible rear seats with adjustable recline.

The performance of the C4 comes in many forms including a 113bhp e-HDi diesel engine, a 154bhp THP petrol engine, a 118bhp 1.6 petrol, and a 91bhp 1.6 diesel. Something for everybody.

The C4 Picasso costs €27,895.

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