Citroen Grand C4 Picasso review
Stylish Grand C4 Picasso MPV that’s strong on economy, safety and practicality, with a surprising amount of quality and tech on board
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has always been one of the best 7-seat MPVs and this latest model takes things a stage further. It was recently crowned MPV of the year in the Auto Express New Car Awards 2015, and is also a previous award winner in the same category.
It has strong economy credentials with the Airdream model offering superb mpg, while top-spec versions have the sort of equipment levels that you’ll struggle to find from premium brands of a similar price.
Practicality is superb with one of the best folding seat arrangements we’ve seen, while room in the most often-used middle row is truly capacious. On top of all that, it looks great – unusual for an MPV – with a mix of French flair and Germanic solidity.
It's not the moat fun to drive, but MPVs are more about ferrying plenty of passengers and their luggage in comfort, and that's something the big Citroen does incredibly well.
Our pick: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
Engines, performance and drive
Focusing more on comfort and convenience than driving thrills, the Grand C4 Picasso isn’t the sharpest car to drive, but it’s certainly fit for purpose. Soft suspension means the car does roll through corners – especially if it’s loaded with people and luggage – but the ride quality is great.
The car floats over surface imperfections and absorbs big bumps with composure, which makes it comfortable in most conditions for all seven occupants. Poise is more important than cornering ability in a full car – although there’s still enough grip to give a reassuring feeling when travelling faster.
There’s a fraction more road noise than you get in the some of the quietest 7-seat MPVs also on the market, and the 2.0 Blue HDi is a little noisy at idle. Performance from the 148hp unit is strong but we’d prefer one of the other, more sedate diesels that are just as refined, cheaper to buy and more frugal. Petrol MPVs are rare and in low demand used, so best avoided.
With little feedback through the flat-bottomed steering, a notchy gearshift and a fair amount of body roll, the Picasso is far from sporty, but there’s plenty of grip and the tally of safety kit includes active cruise control, a reversing camera and blind spot warning.
However, the tech-filled cabin sometimes over-complicates the driving experience. For example, a simple task such as adjusting the temperature forces you to take your eyes off the road as you navigate sub-menus in the central touchscreen.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Citroen has managed to offer a seven-seat MPV that comes with CO2 figures below the magic 100g/km figure – 98g/km to be precise. The 1.6 eHDi Airdream model also claims average economy of 74mpg, while even the most powerful diesel, the new BlueHDi, claims 67mpg and 110g/km.
So you’ll be able to buy a Grand C4 Picasso and not have to pay any road tax, while company car tax bills for family-orientated company car drivers will be temptingly low, too. All models come decently equipped, too, with prices set competitively against MPV rivals.
However, on our test of the 148hp BlueHDi version the 34.6mpg we averaged was some way below the official figure. Citroen’s three-year fixed-price servicing deal is more expensive than those of many rivals, too, while a three-year warranty can’t match the lengthier deals being handed out elsewhere. You’ll also suffer £16,000 of depreciation over three years.
Interior, design and technology
Some people carriers are dowdy and dull, but the Grand C4 Picasso is anything but, as it blends space with stand-out styling. At the front, the low-line headlamps are incorporated into Citroen’s double chevron front grille, which runs the width of the car. This means the C4 has a minimalist yet smart appearance, helped by the wide-set second pair of light clusters and foglights lower down the bumper.
Citroen’s designers have managed to keep the car’s side profile visually appealing – there’s masses of metal, but also enough glass to balance it out, so the overall shape doesn’t look awkward. The doors feature some gently sculpted surfaces, while the large, matt-grey roof rails that run from the base of the windscreen to the rear of the car add extra interest, along with the 18-inch turbine-style wheels on top-spec models.
The design is more reserved at the rear, with the tail-lights acting as the main styling element. This does mean it’s incredibly practical, as the lights are mounted on the boot lid, so it lifts to reveal a massive opening with a low loading lip.
Inside, the Picasso is just as fresh and funky. Climb into the driving seat, and your eyes are immediately drawn to the 12-inch TFT colour screen mounted high up in the middle of the dashboard – it’s fully customisable, so you can select one of three themes and also display pictures uploaded to your car.
Just below this, there’s a slightly smaller seven-inch touchscreen that operates everything from the radio and sat-nav to the climate control. Once you’ve got used to the system, it feels slick; plus, its futuristic layout and mix of colours add visual appeal. However, we found that if you have navigation in the top display, it disappears if you switch the lower display to operate a different function – very odd.
Standard kit is also generous, while top of the range versions come with with electric, heated and massaging front seats included, alongside sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, all-round parking sensors with park assist, a reversing camera, climate and cruise control and keyless go. When you consider the £27,110 price tag for this top-spec model, it’s easy to see the Citroen’s appeal; plus, it doesn’t feel like you’re scrimping.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Although it’s the same length as the outgoing car, the new Grand Picasso has a stretched wheelbase – so there’s 11cm more space in row two and it’s easier to spread legroom between the back rows. The three middle-row seats slide independently, while the outer pair flip up cinema-style before sliding forward, allowing decent access to row three.
The Citroen has excellent middle-row legroom, but tall passengers’ knees will rub against the tray tables. Importantly for families, all three middle-row chairs are the same width and have Isofix mounts. Space right at the back is tight but it trumps the smaller Kia with better headroom, while roof-mounted vents, climate buttons, and cup-holders mean third-row passengers are not ignored. To keep all the family gadgets charged up, there are 12V sockets in the front and middle rows, plus the boot.
The rear seats fold into the floor easily to reveal a well shaped boot that’ll swallow 793 litres of luggage when the middle row is slid into its furthest forward setting. Folding the middle row is easy, too, while for really long loads the front passenger seat folds.
As expected, there are plenty of neat practical touches for odds and ends. Up front you get a deep bin behind the gearlever and a useful cubby in the middle of the dash. It’s not perfect, though – the door pockets are narrow, while Citroen hasn’t moved the fuse box in the switch from left to right-hand drive, so the glovebox is small.
The electric parking brake is fiddly and we found that the auto release only worked intermittently. Plus, some of the seat levers and latches feel a little flimsy and require more effort to operate than would be ideal.
Reliability and Safety
Citroen improved its result in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, climbing six places to 20th overall. For reliability alone, it took 18th spot – but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
The Grand C4 Picasso (and the five-seat C4 Picasso) was voted the 77th-best car to live with out of 200 (and second-best MPV), with readers praising its low running costs, decent practicality and impressive ride comfort.
When it comes to safety, the Citroen also delivers the goods. With curtain airbags to protect rear passengers, lane departure warning with an active seatbelt system and optional adaptive cruise control, the top-spec Exclusive+ model adds extra peace of mind over and above its maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.