Road Test: Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
SECTOR: MPV PRICE: £19,200–£27,855 FUEL: 44.8–74.3mpg CO2: 98–148g/km
With all the industry talk of downsizing, it may surprise you to hear that it’s the seven-seat member of the C4 Picasso family which sells best in the UK.
Three-quarters of British buyers chose the larger model in the last generation – an exact reverse of most European markets – and while the popularity of the new five-seater is tipping the balance back the other way, this is predicted to remain the volume seller in its latest guise.
The new C4 Picasso has enjoyed a generational advance based on PSA’s new modular platform, which cuts weight, allows the wheels to be pushed out to the corners for better handling and mounts seats and drivetrain lower to bring the centre of gravity closer to the road allowing a lower roofline and improvements in aerodynamics too.
As an added advantage, it’s allowed Citroën to be much more clever with the packaging of the larger model. Previous Grand C4 Picassos shared their wheelbase with the five-seat version, but there’s an extra 55mm between the axles this time around. So while the body is only 7mm longer than its predecessor, there’s more space inside.
That 55mm growth might not sound like much, but it makes a big difference. It allows room for bigger rear doors, and boosts interior flexibility. Move the three individually-sliding middle-row seats back and and it provides extra legroom. Slide them forward and the 55mm allows extra room for third row passengers or cargo, without pressing middle-row passengers’ knees against the front seats.
It’s easy to use, too. The outer seats in the second row fold upwards and spring forwards to let passengers into the back, and the third-row seats collapse into a compartment under the boot floor. All of the seats can be folded with one hand, though the front passenger seat is a little more cumbersome, forming a completely flat 2.75-metre load area from the dashboard to the tailgate. Converting people mover to Ikea-friendly wardrobe carrier takes less than a minute.
The extra third-row legroom has made room for adults to spend short trips in the back, and the myriad cubby holes and 12v sockets, reading lights and cupholders mean passengers are spoiled for creature comforts. Citroën has even used a column-mounted gear selector on the automatic versions, liberating some extra space in the centre console’s storage bin.
Three diesel engines are available from launch, comprising the familiar 90bhp and 115bhp 1.6-litre HDIs, and an all-new Euro 6 compliant 2.0-litre BlueHDI with 150bhp. Between them, these are predicted to account for 92% of UK orders, with the majority opting for the mid-spec unit despite the entry-level engine offering the headline fuel economy.
There’s a lot to like about PSA’s new BlueHDI 150, which makes the MPV an incredibly refined and effortless long distance car, particularly with the smooth automatic gearbox. But the 115bhp version is so capable and flexible that the extra power is more of a luxury than a necessity. Downsized BlueHDI engines with similar power outputs to the entry level units will be available later this year, in time for Euro 6 requirements, and should bring CO2 emissions down further.
Citroën has had three generations to get its compact MPV right, and this latest generation shows good knowledge of the target audience. Well-built and futuristic in style both inside and out, it has the interior flexibility, ride comfort and refinement to keep passengers happy, combined with impressive fuel economy for the driver. Whether it’s head or heart steering the decision, there’s really no loss of appeal compared to the five-seater.
There’s a £1,700 price walk between the five and seven-seat C4 Picassos, and with strong styling, low running costs and impressive interior flexibility on its side, the larger model adds up to an appealing all-rounder. Like the five-seater, which is enjoying higher than anticipated demand, it’s well placed to find some new fans.