Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Both diesel and petrol engines are offered, but diesels are expected to make up 90% of sales.

Diesel engines

The diesel range kicks off with the 1.6-litre HDi 90 engine, so called because it develops just over 90bhp, with a five-speed manual gearbox. It takes the Picasso from 0-62mph in 12.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 107mph

Also available is the e-HDi 90, essentially the same engine with a stop/start system and Citroen’s ‘Efficient Tronic Gearbox’ (ETG) six-speed semi-automatic option.

Citroen says this transmission has been tweaked for smoother and more efficient shifts than the previous version of the same gearbox, which was rather jerky and abrupt. A fully automatic six-speed gearbox will be available in 2014.

The ETG gearbox is also available with the next diesel engine up, the 1.6-litre e-HDi 115 with 115bhp. We tested this engine with the conventional six-speed manual gearbox, and found it to be a smooth and torquey engine well-suited to both motorway use and urban driving.

Like many diesel engines, it is a little harsh sounding at high revs in the lower gears, but it’s otherwise a very quiet and refined powertrain. It’s expected to be the most popular engine in the line-up. Top speed with this engine is 117mph and 0-62mph takes 11.8 seconds.

The best diesel Citroen C4 Picasso performance comes from the top engine, the 2.0-litre HDi 150. This generates 150bhp and is married to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Petrol engines

Both petrol engines available were co-developed with BMW.

The entry-level petrol is the 1.6-litre VTi 120, which develops 120bhp and is combined with a five-speed manual gearbox. Top speed is 116mph and 0-62mph comes up in 12.3 seconds.

Top petrol is the 1.6-litre turbocharged THP 155 with a six-speed manual gearbox. On the road it’s a quiet, powerful and flexible powerplant with a light, easy gearchange. It develops 156bhp and hauls the bulky Picasso around with no problems. The 0-62mph run takes 9 seconds and top speed is 130mph.

There’s no automatic gearbox option for the petrol engines at present.

Naturally, handling isn’t the primary attribute you would buy a people carrier for but the Picasso makes a fairly decent fist of things in the corners. The steering is nicely weighted, the car turns in keenly enough and feels assured at normal road speeds.

It has an excellent turning circle which makes manoeuvring in tight car parks an easy task, and the Picasso’s relatively compact overall dimensions (it’s ever so slightly shorter than the previous model by 4cm) make threading it through traffic reasonably stress-free.

Citroen’s engineers have managed to make the new C4 Picasso a full 140kg lighter than the old car, which can only be helpful on the handling front.

The new car also boasts a revised traction control system for better performance on slippery surfaces.