Citroen Grand C4 Picasso people-carrier still has winning way
When it comes to compact people-carriers, you can’t ignore Citroen’s Grand C4 Picasso… or this laudable load-lugger’s wealth of awards, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Good cars win awards, class leaders do so year after year. Citroen’s Grand C4 Picasso seven-seater has a cabinet of trophies of best multi-purpose vehicle accolades, often retaining the title.
It’s easy to see why Grand C4 Picasso is still top of the pops for Citroen has nailed this MPV concept of practicality, versatility and driveability and that’s why it did not mess it up by messing around too much with the latest incarnation, instead keeping changes to a facelift and powertrain tweaks.
Looks and image
It’s still one of the best-looking, best-driving mid-size people carriers, the latest seven-seater and smaller five-seater C4 Picasso get a more dynamically-styled front end, in line with the latest family face, with the three-tiered light signature, more chrome trim and wider, lower front bumper with gloss black central moulding for more presence.
Under the bonnet
Diesel has dominated with 100 and 120hp 1.6-litre and 150hp 2.0-litre turbo diesels but the new range adds two new 1.2-litre turbo petrol powertrains – 110hp manual (five-seat only) and 130hp automatic joining the manual.
I rate this 130hp PureTech petrol unit, with a hat-trick of class wins in International Engine of the Year, but was cynical about it shifting a fully-laden seven-seater but it proved me wrong.
The six-speed automatic had a good turn of speed, when kicked down or shifted manually with steering column paddles, without getting unrefined or raucous, and cruises comfortably at 70mph. Unless you do mega mileage, 38 to 40mpg is acceptable.
How it drives
The quirky, often problematic, air suspension is long gone with conventional coil springs and dampers showing Citroen’s ride and handling know-how so well that it does not feel like a large MPV.
People-carriers are more about ride comfort than rewarding roadholding so the softish suspension does a fine job of soaking up poor surfaces, particularly loaded.
That’s not to say it’s all rock and roll on twisty roads. The Grand C4 Picasso answers the helm well, remaining composed on twisty roads with body roll well contained, and is not a dull drive.
Space and comfort
Practical, versatile load-lugging, both people and cargo, is the name of the game and the Grand C4 Picasso carries it off.
OK, the two rear seats which pull out of the boot floor one-handed are for children or small, supple adults but easy to get to with the outer middle-row seats having flip-up cinema-style cushions and moving forward to give access. Three middle-row seats slide back and forth independently to tailor legroom for rear passengers or load space.
With all seats in use, load space is limited to 165 litres but five-seat mode creates a huge 793-litre load bay, rising to a van-like 2,181 litres with all five rear seats folded flat and flush with flip-down panels to bridge any gaps for sliding large items in and out.
At the wheel
High seats, big windows and small pillars give excellent visibility and heighten the sense of space.
The driving position has plenty of adjustment while a seven-inch touchscreen, which controls most functions, and 12in customisable driving information display panel, to prioritise the information you see, above it in the centre of the fascia gives the driver an undistracted view of the road ahead.
Build quality is much better than on old Citroens with lots of squidgy plastics on contact points. The glovebox on right-hand drive models is miniscule because of the fusebox, but large doorbins, a flip-down centre console locker and compartment locker between the front seats make up for it.
The Grand C4 Picasso is likeable and easy to live with – it’s not difficult to see why it’s been such a winner for Citroen.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Feel PureTech 130 £25,805 (range £23,155 to £30,580)
Engine: 1,199cc, 131hp, three-cylinder, turbo petrol mated to six-speed automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 10.8 seconds; top speed 128mph
MPG: Urban 44.1; extra urban 64.2; combined 55.4
CO2 emissions: 115g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 22%
Insurance group: 18E (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,602mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,117mm; H 1,638mm