Lifting the skirts

French miss doesn’t mind a little slap and throttle tickle

NATHAN PONCHARD

PEOPLE will call me various four-letter words for saying this, but I need true friends to prove themselves. Respect and decent manners might get your foot in the door, but grit, humour and the ability to indulge in shameless debauchery is what seals the deal.

I kind of feel that way about Citroen’s C4 Picasso, too. On the surface, it’s a tertiaryeducated young mum in a Camilla Franks kaftan, but underneath its inoffensively expressive exterior lies the ability to have a surprisingly good time.

It was an enthusiastic strafe up to the oldies’ place in lower Newcastle and back that did it. Instead of surfing the 1.6 turbo’s torque and wafting along on the EAT6 auto’s smoothly intuitive gear changes, I caned it.

When it’s not clogged, Sydney’s Pacific Highway has always been a fun urban road – a 60km/h, mostly four-lane arterial that snakes its way up from North Sydney to the M1 Motorway at Wahroonga – yet no one ever really sticks to the speed limit. Even today, you can comfortably get away with doing 75-80km/h for much of it, and it’s one of the genuine aces Sydney has up its sleeve over nanny-state Melbourne.

With its pointy steering, poised chassis, marvellous vision and gap-filling grunt, the Picasso lifted its skirt and revelled in the challenge. Then, on the M1 Motorway, I grew a soft spot for its engine as well.

While the revamped ‘Prince’ 1.6 turbo lacks the inherent charm of PSA’s much newer turbo three-pot, it corrals all 121kW together in admirable fashion, and even sounds like it’s enjoying the ride.

As each slower vehicle ceded to the Citroen’s sparkly LED running lights and cleared the right lane, I floored it.

Cue metrosexual mum bus surging into the distance, 1.6 turbo rasping at its top end like a warm hatchback’s. Even with the frustration of dithering Saturday morning traffic, I actually had fun.

Following a sidewall puncture two months ago, and a stripped lock nut by the local tyre retailer, the Picasso now wears a fresh pair of Michelin treads (not Continentals as previously stated, my bad!), which prepares it perfectly for its next stage in life. That is, as the family chariot for the Corby clan.

Much as I love the Citroen’s manoeuvrability, clever practicality and individuality, it would be selfish to deny its all-round utility to someone with an actual family. Corby reckons his kids are gonna love it. We shall see.

FAVOURITE THONG

Big door pockets easily house large water bottles, or even a pair of thongs when, er, driving barefoot

Sister sledge

REVAMPING my home office demanded some new flat-pack shelving. But, commodious as the five-seat Picasso is, it can’t swallow a 202cm-tall Ikea bookshelf, let alone four of them.

Cue a brief loan of its Grand(er) seven-seat sibling. With the front passenger seat folded flat, the Grand made light work of the heavy load. It’s also prettier, with slightly firmer suspension and greater urban torque. It may not be as quick and cushy as the five-seat on a trip, but I think it’s better value.

CITROEN C4 PICASSO

Date acquired: June 2015 Price as tested: $47,890 This month: 520km @ 11.0L/100km Overall: 1879km @ 9.3L/100km