Any new contender in the seven-seat MPV class needs to be good, as the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has had the top spot sewn up in our annual New Car Awards for two years. But could this all be about to change?
Volkswagen hopes so, as its new, second-generation Touran packs plenty of tech to try to topple the Citroen. Plus, the clever MQB platform that underpins everything from the Golf to the Passat should bring a big boost when it comes to packaging.
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But the C4’s clever mix of space, style and efficiency has stood the test of time since launch in 2013. Also, the Exclusive+ model tested here has a lot of kit. Our SE Family spec VW is more pricey and not as well equipped, but scores with its premium image.
Both cars feature a third row of seats that rises out of the boot floor in one easy movement. Yet the Citroen has the edge on space, with more leg and headroom.
The Touran’s rearmost row is fine for small children, but a big hump in the roof hits headroom for taller passengers. Access to the rear of both is aided by tilting and sliding second row chairs.
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Park these MPVs side-by-side, and it’s clear they share similar dimensions and proportions. Yet while the Picasso is distinctive and different, the Touran is a bit bland. Sharp creases and some neat detailing give it a more dynamic look than before, but it still fades into the background.
It’s the newer car, but the VW still emits more CO2. Entry 1.6 TDI models claim 110g/km, while the 2.0 TDI DSG emits up to 126g/km. By contrast, the Picasso 1.6 HDi claims 99g/km, and the flagship 148bhp 2.0-litre emits 115g/km (or 105g/km in manual guise).
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It’s another victory for the Grand C4 Picasso – with its blend of affordability, versatility and style, our reigning MPV of the Year fends off the challenge from the Touran on almost all fronts. It doesn’t drive quite as nicely as the VW with its MQB underpinnings, but the Citroen is softer and delivers more comfort, while the performance deficit in the real world is only marginal.
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Unfortunately for VW, its new Touran falls short of the Citroen in most areas that matter for an MPV. It’s not quite as practical, or as efficient, while the Picasso has a bit more design flair. The newcomer feels composed on the road, with a punchy engine and slick gearbox, but that’s not enough to counter the higher price and running costs, so it slips into second place.
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
If you like the idea of a premium seven-seater, BMW’s 218d Gran Tourer offers similar pace and a sporty drive to match the Touran. Luxury spec is well equipped, but it’s a bit more expensive than the Volkswagen, at £29,090.
Price: from £29,500
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 178bhp
Don’t mind buying used? Drivers after something more stylish than an MPV who need seven seats only occasionally should check out the ‘5+2’-seater Discovery Sport. At this price it’ll be an entry-level SE, but it still scores on practicality and style.
|Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ 2.0 BlueHDi 150||Volkswagen Touran SE Family 2.0 TDI 150|
|On the road price/total as tested||£27,110/£30,380||£28,215/£29,055|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£10,980/40.5%||£11,371/40.3%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,028/£2,056||£1,183/£2,365|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,235/£2,058||£1,313/£2,188|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||25/£693/B/£20||17/£660/C/£30|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£400 (3yrs/35,000)||£15.99pcm (2yrs)|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,997cc||4cyl in-line/1,968cc|
|Peak power/revs||148/4,000 bhp/rpm||148/3,500 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||370/2,000 Nm/rpm||340/1,750 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/fwd||6-spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||55 litres/sealant||58 litres/sealant|
|Boot capacity (7/5/2 seats)||165/793/2,181 litres||137/703/1,857 litres|
|Turning circle||11.0 metres||11.5 metres|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||12,000 miles (1yr)/196||10,000 miles (1yr)/223|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||20th/9th||22nd/30th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||86/88/68/5||88/89/71/5|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.8/9.2 secs||9.4/8.6 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.0/6.9 secs||3.8/6.3 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||7.9/10.9 secs||8.5/11.6 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||130mph/1,900rpm||129mph/1,850rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||45.5/10.0/550 miles||42.8/7.0/546 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||166/105g/km/19%||177/116g/km/21%|
|Automatic box/stability/cruise control||£1,350/yes/yes||£1,300/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/£2,000*/£2,000*||£445/£2,075/£385|
|Met paint/xenons/electric tailgate||£520/£750/yes||£595/£1,000^/£630|