What is it? All-new variant of seven-seat MPV
Key features: Distinctive styling, practicality, frugal engines
Our view: A mix of practicality and style is likely to find it plenty of contented owners
Citroën’s Picasso range has always stood out in the mostly innocuous arena of the MPV, mainly because of its looks. When it first launched in 1999, the Xsara Picasso was a people carrier with distinctive style, which endeared it to many a buyer.
As a result the Xsara Picasso, and its successors the C4 and Grand C4 Picassos, have always accounted for a major slice of Citroën’s sales – some 3.2 million shifted in their almost 15-year life. Today they take 25 per cent of Citroën’s UK volume and are only exceeded by the even more stylish DS cars with their 35 per cent.
The new five-seat C4 Picasso arrived last year and has done well – 41,000 sold across Europe in 2013. Now it’s the turn of its seven-seat big sister, the Grand C4 Picasso.
It’s not usual for an MPV to offer strong first impressions but the moment one claps eyes on the Grand C4 Picasso its exterior of curves and creases certainly takes the eye. We are told the front end is bespoke to the model but it’s clearly related to the five door and forms part of one of the most successful exercises yet in getting away from the big square box looks of the average people carrier.
Like its sister this Picasso is built on PSA Group’s latest EMP2 platform – underpinning a whole host of cars including the new 308 from Peugeot. The versatile foundation allows a versatile layout – the wheelbase has been stretched by 110mm in a car that is no longer than its predecessor, and has less sticking out ahead of the front wheels, and wider tracks, which all adds up to rather more room inside.
Traditionally seven seaters mean five proper seats and two for the younger members of the family. The Grand C4 is no different but the rear pair offer rather more comfort than most, which can be extended by sliding the middle seat row forwards.
When one pulls the rear seats up from the floor – a really easy one-hand movement – there is still some luggage space behind. Not loads, but again more than most! Normal boot space, by the way is 632 litres, which is 56 more than the old Grand C4, and extendable to 793 with the middle row of seats slid forward, or 2,181 with both rows folded down.
One more big plus – with many MPVs using the rearmost seats means removing the parcel shelf and leaving it at home. Citroën provides a means to bolt it back into the car behind those seats – one of those “why doesn’t everyone do that” innovations…
Sitting up front everything feels rather big. The dash seems a long way away, thanks partly to the huge swept-back screen. Choose the panoramic sunroof option, and it feels like you are driving a goldfish bowl…
The controls are well placed in a style-conscious layout with a central-console touch screen dominating. We didn’t find this that user-friendly, lacking the smooth swipe-ability of the average tablet – perhaps take some tips from an iPad?
There’s a five-way engine choice, two of them 1.6 petrol units of 118 and 153bhp, and likely to be very much bit players – Citroën expects nine out of 10 buyers to go for one of the three diesels, these being 1.6-litre units of 89 or 114bhp, and 2.0-litre of 148bhp.
The smallest of these engines offers official fuel economy figures of more than 74mpg, and free road-tax territory emissions of 98g/km. In an MPV this size, that’s remarkable and as Citroën cheerfully points out, only currently available elsewhere in hybrid vehicles.
Sadly this engine also comes fitted as standard with an auto-manual gearbox that aids the economy but not the driving experience, feeling slow and laboured. As a result this buyer, and according to Citroën most buyers, would go for the 114bhp 1.6-litre e-HDi unit, with a six-speed manual shift – much more fun…
On the road – well you are never going to be looking for high performance from an MPV but the Grand C4 is better than rivals – and its predecessor, smothering the bumps and confidently attacking the twisty bits.
Grand C4 Picasso prices start at £19,200 – to pick the 1.6 diesel predicted best seller will cost from £21,995. Up to four trim levels are on offer, dependent on model.
One seldom buys a people carrier for anything other than its, well people-carrying ability – the Grand C4’s predicted 25/75 per cent retail/fleet sales split is evidence of that. But this MPV tries harder than most, and its mix of practicality and style is likely to find it plenty of contented owners.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso – key specifications
Model Tested: Citroën C4 Grand Picasso 1.6-litre e-HDi 115
On Sale: January 2014
Engines: Petrol 1.6×2. Diesel 1.6×2, 2.0
Power (bhp): 118/153. 89/114, 148
Torque (lb/ft): 118/177. 169/199, 273
0-62mph (sec): 12.6/9.2. 14.0/12.1, 9.8
Top speed (mph): 116/130. 109/117, 130
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 44.8/46.3. 74.3/70.6, 65.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 145/139. 98/105, 110
Key rivals: Ford S-Max, Peugeot 5008
Test date: January 2014