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New Picasso C3 is a little work of art

NOBODY does ugly-beautiful quite like the French. What other nation could give us a creature as beautiful as Vanessa Paradis and then put a gap the size of Dunloe in her gob. Even famous French landmarks can look absolutely hideous but be really beautiful beneath it all -- George Pompidou Centre anyone, or Gerard Depardieu's nose?

Yes the George P Centre will always be a great architectural migraine, a kind of industrial roller coaster.

But stare at it long enough and under the surface a rare beauty will emerge, whether you want it to or not.

Charm

Gerard Depardieu will always be an ugly French man with a large nose, but with his Gallic charm and his love of a good gallon of cognac you just know you're going to have a good time.

And Vanessa Paradis will always look like a woman who's just lost her front teeth in a bar room brawl, but when she shuts her trap she's a pure peach.

The all-new Citroen Picasso C3 is another great French enigma.

At first sight you could be looking at a Berlingo after a makeover, but of course it's far nicer than that.

It initially doesn't appear all that lovely, but it is completely unusual looking. In fact, it's like nothing else on the road, and that in itself deserves praise.

Yes I know, that BMW motorbike with a roof that Pat Kenny drives looks like nothing else either, and that still doesn't make it cool.

But the Picasso has that 'Je Ne Sais Quoi', a French beauty of the Serge Gainsbourg variety, ugly-beautiful.

The Picasso C3 is essential a small family car, which looks so small from the outside and so big when inside. It also includes a sexy dash and onboard display.

The Picasso C3 comes in three different ranges, a rather humble 93bhp 1.4-litre VTi or a punchy 118bhp 1.6-litre engine.

There is a 1.6-litre HDi diesel, available in both 88bhp or 108bhp, and all with a five-speed manual gearbox.

Surprising

A pleasantly surprising aspect to the Picasso is that for a car that looks so rigid, it's road handling is actually quite sumptuous for one so ungainly.

Another big plus point for the C3 Picasso is the beautiful panoramic glass roof, a hit in whatever car is lucky enough to get one.

Other great family extras for the C3 Picasso are tables for backseat passengers and pull down shades for the little 'un's as well.

I had my Picasso whilst moving stuff to a house and with just one back seat down, and half a garden shed full of furniture placed in the rear, along with one small boy, it was quite surprising how much I got on board.

And that brings us back to the shape of it -- it is very "van meets MPV" and for that reason it is so practical. Personally I took some ti me to get used to the shape of the C3 Picasso, but many people including my Discovery-driving next door neighbour and Mercedes-driving mate both liked it.

It is, what I said before, unusual and definitely different.

The Citroen C3 Picasso is priced from €19,900.


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