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 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 capcious. On top of all that, it looks great – unusual for an MPV – with a mix of French flair and Germanic solidity.
Our pick: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi Exclusive
As a brand with a history that's littered with boldly styled cars, it’s no surprise that Citroen has created an MPV that stands out from the crowd. This is a seriously smart looking car with a modern and upmarket design that makes the Ford S-MAX look old-hat. It’s certainly way better to look at than a Kia Carens, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer or Toyota Verso – all reasonably stylish MPVs in their own right.
The chevron grille and slender LED running lights give the Picasso a futuristic face, while the big glass area adds to the modern look. Smart contrasting roof rails start at the A-pillar, run along the roof and curl around the rear window, plus the longer Grand Picasso’s unique tail-lamps help it stand out from the smaller five-seat model.
Inside, Citroen has taken a minimalist approach, with an airy design focused around the 12-inch central TFT screen and smaller touch-sensitive centre console. The stylish dash is a mixture of curves and angles, while smooth plastics dominate the upper section. Unfortunately, this upmarket feel is undermined by sharper, cheaper-feeling materials used lower down in the cabin.
The standard panoramic screen, glass roof and large windows let in lots of light, while the flagship Exclusive+ gets luxury kit like massage seats and an electric footrest for the front seat passenger. You also get sat-nav, Bluetooth and a scented air freshener with the Exclusive+ trim, all adding to the upmarket feel.
As there’s lots of seat and steering wheel adjustment – and excellent visibility – the Picasso is instantly welcoming. Comfort continues on the move, where light controls and a positive steering response are matched to a firm but cosseting ride and composed handling.
There’s a fraction more road noise than you get in the market's quietest 7-seat MPVs 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.
Citroen hasn’t exactly been a byword for reliability in the past and in our Driver Power 2013 survey it came 24th out of 32 in the manufacturer rankings, which doesn’t fill us with confidence. The dealers only finished in 27th place.
Our test car also suffered electrical glitches, including intermittent parking sensors and radar cruise control that switched itself off every time it sensed a car ahead.
The Grand C4 Picasso has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and with plenty of active safety gadgets such as lane-keep assist, active cruise control and an array of cameras, the flagship Exclusive+ model is a sound safety choice. Especially since you get curtain airbags and a Mercedes-style active seatbelt system.
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.
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.