Citroen Grand C4 Picasso MPV review
Citroen has come up trumps. The C4 Picasso is a massive step forward and shoots straight to the top of the MPV sector.
A relaxed driving experience characterises the C4 Picasso. There are few thrills to be had, but it's safe and reassuring on the road. While lacking the sharpness and feel of more dynamic rivals, it still turns into corners with confidence, and despite more body movement, always remains composed. The ride is also accomplished - it soaks up bumps with ease and is supple enough to isolate imperfections from the cabin. The 1.6-litre HDi diesel is likely to sell well, and boasts smooth power delivery with enough pace in most situations. While manual gearboxes feature, the company is also keen to promote its EGS semi-auto, complete with column-mounted shifter, which is standard on higher-spec diesels. It has a slightly jerky shift, but is easy to use.
It's clear Citroen has rediscovered its flair for design and innovation. The C4 Picasso is a good-looking compact MPV, with well proportioned dimensions and modern, clean lines, while the huge curving windscreen dominates the front-end styling. Once inside, the sheer amount of glass, combined with narrow A-pillars and large quarter light windows, offers class-leading visibility. It's based on the C4 hatch and is packed with the same technology, but has unique features too - such as optional self-levelling hydraulic rear suspension. Two 1.6-litre diesels, plus 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines, form the line-up, with trims including LX, SX, VTR+ and Exclusive lines.
The cabin feels very spacious, as there's nothing but storage trays between the front seats - although they are rather shallow. It's well laid out, with the now-trademark fixed-hub steering wheel. And the driving position is fine, with the seat proving comfortable and supportive on long trips. In the middle row, there are three separate sliding chairs, each with Isofix child seat mountings. Legroom is good in the furthest back position and there's decent shoulder space, while the middle occupant benefits from a flat floor. Best of all is the seat operating mechanism - just pull a handle on the back and the base flips up. The chair then slides forward to give excellent access to the fairly roomy third row. However, luggage space with all chairs in use is a bit tight. Excellent noise insulation makes the Picasso refined on the motorway, while a large, cooled storage box between the front seats of some models is, like the electric parking brake, a neat touch. However, build quality could be an issue. Although reasonable on the whole, the driver's armrest on the test car had worked loose and the rear blinds often jammed when retracted. Standard kit is generous, though, and fuel economy is good. Interestingly, models with the EGS semi-auto are more economical than those using the standard manual.