Used Citroen Xsara Picasso
2001's best-selling mini MPV was the Citroen Xsara Picasso, priced to sell and outclassing rivals the Vauxhall Zafira or Renault Scenic in terms of clever design features, fuel economy and interior space. Based on the tried and tested Xsara in order to keep development costs low, the Picasso remains largely unaltered since its 2000 launch and is still a good seller for Citroen despite 2007's C4 Picasso addition, thereby proving "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"... Both petrol and diesel engines are available, with two trim levels of LX and SX, plus an Exclusive edition from 2002 with extras including posh alloys, digital air conditioning and body-coloured bumpers.
Bang for your buck
The used Citroen Xsara Picasso is a prime example of research paying off, with Citroen aiming this well thought out vehicle at a very specific market – five seats for families with no more than three children, sensible engines for sensible driving and a whole host of original interior features. The dash is plain to the point of austere, with dials and gauges replaced by a centrally placed, simple but comprehensive digital display and the floor is unobstructed by a dashboard mounted gear stick for clear access to rear seats.
The gentle, rounded but modern looking exterior belies the amount of interior space, with five full size seats comfortable enough for five adults. The rear seats can be fully removed as well as folded down and the centre rear seat collapses to form a work or play station including a clipboard style paper holder.
Standard features include front and side airbags, ABS, remote control central locking, immobiliser and electric front windows and mirrors, while the plusher SX also offers air conditioning, front fog lights and a CD player.
The second hand Citroen Xsars Picasso also stands out for its unusual and avant garde extras such as under-floor storage compartments, rear picnic tables, a drawer under the front passenger seat, door cards shaped to safely hold cans, cups and even 1.5 litre bottles and above all an integral fold-out trolley in the boot so you don't even have to unload the shopping in the supermarket car park, all designed with family motoring needs in mind. Gimmicky? Maybe, but impressive nonetheless.
What you'll pay
About £2,500 for a basic 2000 plate1.6 litre LX used Citroen Xsara Picasso and £200 more for the better equipped SX. Aim for a well-looked after 2.0 HDi diesel with SX trim to get the most for your money.
What to check
With its well-proven Xsara hardware, the Picasso is free from major faults, while the quality of its fittings is testament to the amount of thought and effort expended upon its design.
The same as the Xsara, with clutch assembly at £90, radiator £150, starter motor £220 and alternator £250.
How it drives
The Citroen Xsara Picasso does what it says on the tin. Engines are satisfactory in performance and exemplary in fuel economy. What it lacks in horsepower if makes up for in torque, while corner roll is well balanced against ride comfort. For this class of car, it's an unusually pleasant drive and an excellent used buy.