After owning a succession of Volvo's my partner and I decided that we needed something equally as practical but without the high running cost, so we opted for the 2003 Citroen Xsara Picasso Exclusive 2.0 HDi.
Now it’s not the best looking car in the world, but it does have a certain quirkiness that grows on you the more you drive it.
The interior is very spacious and the rear seat layout is excellent, allowing the seats to be moved forward or backwards, along with slight adjustment to the backrest should the passenger feel the need to recline.
The layout of the dashboard isn't as ergonomic as I am used to in the Volvo, although it is functional. I find that the position of the electric window switch by the gear change to be rather inconvenient and the selection of 'Lego' style buttons which control the rear windows is darn right hideous. It looks as if they have been lifted out of an old BL Maestro.
I hate the horn being on the end of a stalk and I also dislike the Climate Control system which I find too fiddly and more complicated than it needs to be.
On the plus side, the leather interior does look great and is relatively supportive although being 6 foot, I do find that there is a lack of leg room for me. The seat could do with going back a few more clicks.
The airline style armrests and folding trays in the back are a great idea, although in practice we have never used them.
If I could improve this car I would make the gear change smoother and more direct, the handling wouldn't be so woolly and the acceleration would be improved.
Although the car is economic, it does lack grunt and a 6th gear!
Having owned countless Volvo's in the past, and not having any serious issues which have let me down, I will not be returning to Citroen.
Their ideas are great but I demand a lot more from my cars, so this week, I’m going to bring my old 850 from out of storage and start driving that again - it was more reliable, much more comfortable and with its 2.5 litre 20 Valve engine, a lot more responsive!!