In other words, models like the new Picasso must stand on their own merit and succeed because of their inherent desirability.
Indeed, this is a trend that the company has kicked off in high style with its seperate premium DS line-up. Its first weapon is styling that marks it out as an individualistic contender. It's a good look that continues with the profile, enhanced as it is with a flourish of alloy coloured plastic around the side glass and deeply contoured body sides.
The interior is more than spacious enough to worry its rivals, particularly in terms of boot volume, even with the rear seats in place. This is a five-seater, however, those seeking an additional two seats can opt for the Grand Picasso - which includes the three rear seats party piece of sliding and reclining individually. With the rear squabs folded flat, you get a massive litres of cargo space.
The front passenger seat can also be folded flat so you can carry objects up to 2. But while there are clever storage cubbies spread around the interior, including under the rear floor, the Picasso isn't moving on the design of medium-sized MPVs in any significant way.
The new car is also a significant kgs lighter than the car it replaces. The Picasso's new platform means that while it is 40mm shorter overall, it gains a significant 55mm of wheelbase. That's led to an increase in rear seat legroom, and while the car's roofline sits 4cm lower than before, headroom all around is still generous, even with the optional panoramic sunroof in place.
So in its role as transport for five people and a good amount of luggage, the Picasso scores well. With its massive front screen and that panoramic sunroof in place, the cabin ambience is light and very airy. And the stars of the new dashboard are those two digital displays, the larger inch one up top and the 7-inch touchscreen below it.
The top display monitors essential car functions such as speed and fuel, and also presents driver-customisable information, while the smaller screen displays the infotainment's functionality. The Picasso brings some of the latest safety technology to the table, albeit optional on all but the highest-specification models. This includes radar-controlled Active Cruise Control that maintains a constant gap to the car in front, headlights with automatic dim and the Blind Spot Monitoring system with an LED warning in the wing mirrors.
There is also a Lane Departure Warning system that vibrates the driver's seatbelt if he or she wanders over lane markings. That last one proves a bit annoying, to be honest. As for the trim levels, there are three to choose from - Touch Edition, Feel and Flair. The entry-level Touch Edition models come with 16in alloy wheels, hill start assist and electrically folding wing mirrors on the outside, while inside there is dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and a 7.
Upgrade to a Feel endowed model and you get sat nav, storage under the driver's seat, fron parking sensors and 17in alloy wheels, while the range-topping Flair trim gains 18in alloys, a half-leather interior, panoramic sunroof, a powered tailgate and, keyless entry and start.
We tried the bhp diesel and found it very effective around town in lower gears, but slightly breathless on motorway inclines - lots of cog swapping, in other words.
The standard fit manual gearbox is good to use, though, so that's not the hardship it might have been. Likewise, the bhp petrol unit was happiest in the lower gears - and much punchier than its diesel sibling. Motorway response in the higher gears was a bit lethargic, though. We haven't tried the 99bhp diesel yet, but given our experience with the bhp oil-burner , we'd say that the latter is the engine to go for, at least until the bhp version arrives.
The fact that the bhp returns a claimed