SLIDING SEATS MAKE CITROEN’S BIG PEOPLE CARRIER THE PARENTS’ CHOICE
Citroen has given its popular Grand C4 Picasso MPV a new lease of life. Simon Davis gets behind the wheel to see what it’s like
CITROEN GRAND C4 PICASSO
WHAT’S NEW? Only a particularly keen eye would be able to tell the difference between the new Grand C4 Picasso and the second-generation model that arrived in 2013. Its exterior retains the familiar shape of the old car, but features a number of subtle tweaks that help keep it looking fresh and up-to-date.
As you would expect from a car designed purely for carting vast numbers of children to and from school and sports practice, the new Picasso can be specified with a raft of active safety systems. These include Speed Limit Sign Recognition and Active Land Departure Warning, to name but a few.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
Generally speaking, large MPVS aren’t the best looking cars on the road, however, Citroen seems to have this area nailed. The Grand C4 Picasso is definitely one of the better-looking people movers currently available on the market.
A suite of very subtle updates that would be difficult to notice on their own make an appearance on the new car. Changes include a redesigned front end, 3D-effect rear lights, rear chevrons finished in gloss black with chrome surrounds and new 18-inch alloy wheels. Together, these add up to an end product that is a marked improvement over the older car.
At the end of the day, an MPV is never really going to be considered a cool car, even one as attractive as the Grand C4 Picasso. That said, cars like this will always place function over form.
The added bonus with the big Citroen is that you don’t have to compromise too much in the form department if you’ve got a load of children to ferry around.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
This is the Grand C4 Picasso’s piece de resistance. A seven-seat layout means you’ll be popular with other parents on the school run and should help prevent any squabbles from breaking out on longer journeys with the family.
The middle row of seats can fold down flat to increase boot space and can also slide back and forth to allow for more legroom in the third row.
The two third row seats fold down into the boot floor, allowing for 645 litres of storage space in the boot when the second row of seats are in their forward-most position.
Another handy feature that has been introduced is a hands-free tailgate. Simply wave your foot underneath the rear bumper and the boot will pop open, meaning you can load the car up easily even when your hands are full.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The Grand C4 Picasso isn’t exactly a small car, although it masks its size rather well. Thanks to plenty of forward visibility out of the large windscreen and a raised driving position, you don’t really feel like you’re behind the wheel of a big people mover.
To drive, the Picasso is very manageable. At low speeds, the steering is quick enough to allow you to manoeuvre into tighter parking spaces and features like a rear parking camera mean you shouldn’t bump into any obstructions.
Out on the open road, you’re afforded a generous view of the road ahead. The seats are comfortable, supportive and easily adjustable — although depending on your body frame, the driving position might be a tad awkward. The steering wheel is quite far away, while the pedals are right under your feet.
There is a fair amount of wind noise at motorway speeds, owing largely to the boxy shape of the car and the 18inch alloys fitted to our test car also created a fair amount of tyre roar. For the most part, the four-cylinder diesel engine is unobtrusive and refined, although it does create a bit of a racket under heavy acceleration.
Any lumps and bumps on the sur- face of the road are dealt with by the Citroen’s supple suspension set-up, although this does lead to a dash of body roll through the corners.
VALUE FOR MONEY
In terms of bang for your buck, the Grand C4 Picasso in Flair trim makes a good case for itself. It comes with a wealth of handy features as standard, including the new 3D Citroen Nav system. This incorporates mapping data from Tomtom that can be displayed through either the seven-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash, or the 12-inch display on the upper dash.
Other features include front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, DAB radio and Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Mirror Link and Car Play — which are included as standard — help to make connecting your smartphone that much easier.
WHO WOULD BUY ONE? This is a car that will largely appeal to buyers with young children. It will tackle the school run with ease and thanks to an economical diesel engine it won’t be too expensive to keep topped up with fuel either.