I CAN’T think of any cars that are officially named after notable people other than the manufacturers themselves.
That is until I find myself driving the Citroen C4 Picasso. It’s quite a compliment to the world famous artist and I’d never given it an ounce of thought until now. The difficulty with such a decision is that it must live up to the high and exacting standards of its namesake. It all falls apart if it doesn’t. Picasso’s name first appeared on the Xsara back in 1999.
Picasso, the Spanish born painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright spent most of his adult life in France so it is a great gesture to name a vehicle after him. Incidentally, his most expensive painting entitled Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, created in the span of just a single day in 1932, sold for more than £85m. I wonder why Spanish car company Seat didn’t beat Citroen to it and name one of their vehicles after the great man.
Naming this people mover after the famous painter is arguably apt because twice married he had four children so this sizeable vehicle would have been much appreciated by him, I reckon. It is also well designed, pleasing to look at from the side especially with its alloy wheels and it boasts quite a striking front so the design aspect should also have received his thumbs up.
With its large boot that easily swallows a pushchair and travel cot as well as food shopping there is enough space on the floor at the rear for any additional luggage. And there always is when the Saunders family go on a jaunt. Three child seats are easily accommodated in the back and Harriett (5) and Heidi (6) do like the folding picnic tables complete with night time reading light. They also have controls for their own air vents. The large boot lid itself opens and shuts unaided; simply click the proximity key.
Driver and front passenger are happy because their seats not only have folding armrests they also come with a massage facility. The one thing I find difficult to come to terms with though is the lack of a speedometer in front of the steering wheel meaning that the driver has to glance at the centre console to see the speedometer. With so many speed cameras around these days I find myself frequently doing this. With its responsive diesel unit and six speed manual gearbox that on occasions is given to notchy indecisive gear changes, it will quickly reach speed limits so it is just as well it is fitted with a speed limiter and cruise control. Engine start/stop kicks in at the traffic lights helping with fuel economy.
There are mixed feelings about the sat nav because on one journey I find that I can actually rely on it to get me out of the depths of the Dorset countryside without a hitch. But on another occasion it is of absolutely no use whatsoever when in the New Forest. Surely it allows for a postcode to be inputted but try as I might I cannot make it work. Thankfully we have a map.
The C4 has an electric handbrake and as we are stuck in a traffic jam on a hill of all places, on one of Dorset’s main roads, I am surprised and reassured to see that when the handbrake is released the vehicle still holds itself in place with no rolling whatsoever so that I can select first gear and move off without breaking into a sweat.
With a ride height taller than even some 4x4s the C4 is a capable motorway cruiser and overtaker.
Nearing the end of my test I suddenly recall another vehicle that celebrated a notable individual and that was the Churchill tank from the Second World War.
Citroen has really hit on a great idea here and more manufacturers should follow suit with this excellent form of commemoration, in my opinion. I can see it now: the Jaguar Thatcher, the Range Rover Bowie or the Rolls Royce Nelson.
Facts at a glance
Engine: 2-litre diesel
Top speed: 130mph
Economy: Over 50mpg