French maker cleans up on environmental score

PSA Group, parent company of Citroen, DS Automobiles, and Peugeot, is the European leader in terms of CO2 emissions, with an average of 104.4 grams of CO2 per kilometre in 2015.

And to reinforce its status, it has just been identified as a global leader for its actions and strategies in response to climate change, rewarded with a position on the Climate A List by CDP, the international not-for-profit body that drives sustainable economies.

Thousands of companies submit annual climate disclosures to CDP for independent assessment against its scoring methodology. PSA Group is among only nine per cent of corporations participating in CDP’s climate change programme to be awarded a position on the Climate A List, recognising its actions to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change in the past reporting year.

For many years, PSA pioneered diesel technology for cars, helping other major manufacturers meet their goals for reducing fuel consumption by getting diesels into tune with modern driving conditions. It also led on fitting automatic transmissions to diesel cars, proving that the two could create a smooth and economical driveline set-up.

A prime example of its excellence is the latest Euro VI Blue HDI two litre turbodiesel which, when mated to the company’s torque converter six speed automatic gearbox, would be the perfect urban transport for many families. The torque converter deals with the high torque output at low revs that’s so typical of modern turbodiesels, smoothing the switch between ratios far more effectively than other makers’ dual clutch systems.

But, as we were to discover in a back-to-back test of two examples of the latest Citroen C4 Picasso, Citroen has also pulled off a remarkably similar achievement with the small capacity, high power output three cylinder 1.2 litre petrol engine, too.

First off was a week with the Grand C4 Picasso with the two litre, 148 bhp turbodiesel. It’s a peach of an engine, while the car itself is the perfect family model for many with its seven seat set-up, three of them in the centre row equipped with ISOFix safety mountings for child restraints. We followed up with a week in the C4 Picasso, which also gets three ISOFix seats.

The Grand C4 Picasso and C4 Picasso, with both test cars equipped with the top-level Flair trim, have just been revised, the principle advance being the introduction of Euro VI engines. Each has an identical 115 g/km CO2 figure but after years of Governments encouraging buyers to go diesel the current trend is to favour petrol, with company car drivers paying less benefit in kind (BIK) for petrol cars. As this is also affected by list price, the £25,245 list price of the C4 Picasso is slightly less painful than the £28,160 of the Grand C4 Picasso although the decision should really be governed by what you need from your car.

For instance, the Grand C4 can manage 2,181 litres of cargo while the C4 tops out at 1,851 litres. As five seaters, the figures are 793 litres and 630 litres respectively. So if having the capacity of a small van suits you better then it has to be the Grand for you.

Some drivers might be surprised to find there’s no distinguishable difference in performance, with the Grand C4 Picasso diesel offering a top speed of 129 mph and the 130 bhp petrol C4 Picasso 128 mph. In the UK, anything above 70 mph is technically irrelevant so as both share a 0-62 mph time of 10.1 seconds you’ll get the same driving experience.

It will also be a revelation to some drivers that the petrol engine delivers its maximum torque, its work output if you like, at 1,750 rpm. That’s 250 rpm lower than the diesel; the end result is a car that’s very relaxing to drive. There’s still the signature thrum of the three cylinder engine but there’s no indication that it’s a small capacity unit nor is it any noisier than the diesel. In fact the subdued nature of both engines when cruising at 70 mph means you arrived refreshed after a long stint at the wheel.

The driving experience is enhanced by the usual variety of electronic aids but the cruise control / speed limiter system is a standout bit of kit. It’s intuitive to use and swap between the two functions with a simple turnwheel that also acts as the off switch. With good fuel economy from either car, aided by the cruise control, fuel bills can easily be kept under control despite the generous proportions of the cars, which give them comfortable and generous passenger space.

Maurice an