Citroen confirms C4 Picasso for Oz

Small French people-mover is heading for Australia after all

Citroen Automobiles Australia has u-turned and decided to import the new second-generation C4 Picasso from early 2014.

If CAA’s business case is accepted by Citroen’s global bosses in Paris, the five-seat people-mover will be priced from under $30,000, highly specified and powered by a choice of 1.6-litre turbo-diesel and petrol engines mated exclusively with six-speed automatic transmissions.

The original C4 Picasso was never sold in Australia and the new one was originally knocked back because the fit was deemed too narrow between the C4 small car and the seven-seat Grand Picasso.

However, a chance to see and touch the car at a global product conference in Paris last month convinced Citroen Australia General Manager/Director John Startari otherwise.

“After seeing that car we are going to go ahead and we are just in the process of finalising the specification and pricing,” Startari told motoring.com.au. “It will be a definite for us.

“The thing that impressed me was the technology. It has dual screens and some funky iPhone connectivity, auto entry and all those types of things. It is quite impressive.

“And I don’t think the photos do it justice because it is a lovely looking car.”

Startari is convinced the styling can help the C4 Picasso overcome the people-mover stigma that pervades the Australian market, enabling it to be marketed in the small car class.

“It’s quite unique, you can see the lines of the people-mover, but it’s not that in your face,” he said. “We will push it as a wagon.”

The C4 Picasso is the first PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) vehicle to be based on the new EMP2 architecture, which will also underpin next year’s Peugeot 308 small car. The new structure slashes 140kg from the original Picasso’s weight and reduces overall length to 4.43 metre yet grows the luggage capacity to a useful 537 litres.

“We didn’t get to drive it, but being on the new platform we were assured it is a different type of drive,” Startari said.

Citroen calls the C4 Picasso a “technospace” rather than monospace. That’s a reference to such features as its 12-inch HD screen and seven-inch touch pad, 360-degree vision, park assist, active cruise control and blind spot monitoring.

So far drivetrain details have only been issued about turbo-diesel engines, including a sub-100g CO2/km 90hp four-cylinder mated with a new clutchless manual gearbox.

Startari has been in charge at Citroen Automobiles Australia since local distribution of the marque was taken over by Sime Darby from Ateco Automotive in February. He is overseeing a growth plan that calls for sales to lift 35 per cent in the 2013-14 financial year and then 20 per cent in each of the following years.

Before the C4 Picasso arrives, Citroen will relaunch the entire DS 3, 4 and 5 range in Australia in late June, while adding the DS3 Cabrio to the line-up at the same time. The soft-top’s pricing will kick off just over $30,000 and come with drivetrain choices of a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol manual, or 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-speed auto.

An updated C3 mini will hit the streets in September and a new-generation Grand Picasso will go on sale here in the first quarter of 2014.

While the C4 Picasso was the definite starter for Australia that came out of the Paris conference, other cars didn’t do so well. Most disappointingly for enthusiasts, the chances of the DS3 Racing hot hatch coming here are still blighted by homologation issues. The prospects for the all-wheel drive DS4 HYbrid4 diesel-electric hybrid are also looking shaky.

“It’s a difficult one because the service tooling costs for the dealerships makes that fairly hard to justify based on the expected volumes,” Startari said. “So at this stage I am not confident that can come in as a single hybrid model.”

Startari confirmed he also saw the DS Wild Rubis mid-size SUV concept that was revealed publicly at the Shanghai auto show. Initially the production version of that vehicle is expected to be sold in China in left-hand drive, with a business case for right-hand drive being considered later.

“The minute I saw it I started making enquiries on it because that is exactly what we want, but it is a concept,” Startari said.

He confirmed there were other future models shown in Paris: “There are exciting products that are really different that will be able to establish a niche from the beginning of 2015 and beyond.”

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Published : Monday, 29 April 2013
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