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Citroen Grand C4 Picasso review (2014 onwards)
Citroen’s clever Grand C4 Picasso seven-seat MPV plays the space and style cards convincingly.
We like: interior space, innovative design, fuel economy
We don’t like: not the sharpest drive, some technology features can be irritating
Some families would burst an ordinary family car at the seams by the simple act of attempting to cram themselves inside it. If yours is one of these horde-like clans with more travelling baggage than a touring symphony orchestra, don’t despair Citroen’s new Grand C4 Picasso is here.
The Picasso-branded line of practical MPVs has been a Citroen success story since the egg-shaped silhouette of the old Xsara Picasso first hoved into view. Today, Citroen will sell you a supermini-based C3 Picasso, a five-seat C4 Picasso or this Grand C4 Picasso with space for seven.
This grandest C4 is no bloater
It’s got a lot of space too. This car is bigger inside than the old Grand C4 Picasso with a wheelbase lengthened by 11cm to 2.84m plus a wider track front and rear. That means more room for passengers and luggage. But this grandest C4 is no bloater, the exterior dimensions haven’t increased and kerb weight is actually reduced by 100kg over the old car, aiding economy and performance.
Initial signs are good then and they get better as you walk around the car. Citroen is looking to break free of the car market’s bargain basement with a greater emphasis on stylish design as evidenced by its DS sub-brand. The Grand C4 Picasso is another step in this prevailing direction with a smart, modern look that manages to disguise the car’s necessary bulk very well. The striking rear lights and flowing roof rails count among the exterior highlights.
We were given the Grand Picasso’s range-topping engine to get our teeth into. The 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel has 150hp to call upon, enough for a 130mph top speed and a 0-60mph sprint of under 10 seconds. The engine feels a good fit in this car. It’s quiet enough, pulls smoothly and has sufficient pace to satisfy the modest demands of the typical seven-seat MPV buyer.
On the move, it’s the sound of the Picasso’s bluff frontage rustling through the air that’s most prevalent as the engine hums away in the background. The standard six-speed manual gearbox is pleasant enough to use but the BlueHDi diesel is offered with Citroen’s latest six-speed automatic and it’s likely to be a popular choice. The wheel-mounted paddle shifters feel a little low-rent but the shifts are smooth as long as you’re not driving it too vigorously, it’s a significant improvement on Citroen autos of old.
Buyers who can’t stretch to the 2.0-litre diesel can opt for 110hp or 90hp versions for Citroen’s e-HDi 1.6. Petrol-wise, there’s an entry-level 120hp 1.6 VTi or the 155hp 1.6 THP turbo.
Ride and handling
The Grand C4 rode well on the pristine German tarmac of the test route. The optional 18in wheels make it more unsettled over low-speed bumps than the standard 17in items but ride comfort is generally good.
Citroen’s promotional blurb says the interior is “loft-inspired”
Making a big MPV handle well is a difficult trick to pull off but Citroen has lowered the centre of gravity in this model and revised the suspension set-up. The results aren’t too bad, the car’s weight still leans this way and that in corners but the roll is controlled and the steering, which increases in weight with the car’s speed, makes it easy to place on the road.
More important than its ability to dance down a snaking back road like a hot hatch is the Grand C4 Picasso’s impressively tight 11m turning circle, helped by a 11cm reduction in the front overhang on this model. It makes this big MPV nice and manageable in town where there’s a good view out the back. At the front, the windscreen is huge but a big expanse of dashboard makes it hard to judge where the extremities of the car lie when parking. You soon learn to trust Citroen’s parking sensors.
Citroen’s promotional blurb says the interior is “loft-inspired” but we’re not talking old suit cases, fibreglass wool insulation and mouse traps. They’ve tried to create the feel of a trendy urban apartment with a bright, airy, minimal ambiance.
With a 5.7-square-metre glass area (once you factor in the optional full-length sunroof) the Picasso is indeed airy. The dash is dominated by two digital displays, one 7in touchscreen in the centre console that hosts the majority of the car’s minor controls and another 12in display in a hooded binnacle on top of the dash. Away from the rather cluttered steering wheel, physical buttons are kept to a minimum but the control interface for the navigation, air-conditioning and audio systems quickly feels intuitive and easy to use. In general, the cabin looks good with some interesting soft-touch trim finishes but there are cheaper plastics to be found if you probe into less obvious areas.
All of which brings us to the seven-berth seating system, which is probably the Grand C4 Picasso’s key strength. The middle row has three equally sized chairs all with good legroom and excellent headroom. All of these seats tilt and slide in various directions but the two outermost ones also concertina up and move forwards to give excellent access to the two seats in the rear. With the two rear seats folded into the boot floor there’s a very generous 645-litre boot, and when they’re in the upright position they’re big enough for a couple of adults to sit without too much discomfort.
Economy and safety
By reducing weight and fitting advanced engine technology, Citroen has achieved some strong economy figures with this car. The range-topping 2.0-litre BlueHDi engine returns 52mpg and emits just 110g/km of CO2. It also has an advanced AdBlue urea injection system that cleans 90% of all nitrogen oxide emissions from the exhaust gasses. It’s clever stuff but the economy star of the range is still the basic 90hp version of the e-HDi engine with its 74mpg economy and 98g/km CO2 output.
Citroen has achieved some strong economy figures with this car
In terms of safety the Grand C4 Picasso has a number of advanced features. Radar-guided cruise control, auto-dipping headlights, a collision warning system and blind spot monitoring are available. There’s also a lane departure warning system that tugs repeatedly on your seatbelt like a naughty toddler in the back seat whenever you venture near a white line without indicating. We quickly turned it off.
Citroen has piled some clever thinking and appealing design into its Grand C4 Picasso and come up with a car well suited to the needs of a large family. The interior’s space and versatility is excellent, the control interface makes the high-tech systems easy to navigate and the engines give remarkable fuel economy returns for a large seven-seat vehicle.
A boost in quality for some of the less visible trim materials and improved handling composure would have boosted its showing further but all in all, the latest Grand C4 Picasso is a fine family car with real individuality and talent.
Rating: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 2.0 BlueHDi 150
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