Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 2014 review

New Grand C4 Picasso MPV offers improved economy, practicality and quality in a super-stylish package

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Some people have predicted the SUV could sound the death knell for the MPV – not with the new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso around. It does all the things you need people carriers to do with loads of space, easy access and simple to use seats, and it does it all with an unexpected level of style, quality and tech. Citroen has proved there’s life in the MPV yet.

Let’s be honest, nobody buys an MPV with their heart. They’re practical decisions, made because of needs not desire. But could that be about to change with the new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso? Could this be the car to make MPVs sexy?

That might be a step too far, but this latest Picasso is a fine looking car. Its striking LEDs sit inside a narrow grille that flows either side of Citroen’s larger, smoother chevrons. With headlights seemingly hidden lower down, it’s a futuristic face.

The flanks are Germanic with taut surfaces and a high window line, while contrasting roof rails start at the base of the windscreen, rise up the A-pillar, flow rearward along the top and finish in a C-shaped flourish around the rearmost side window. It all makes the current Ford S-MAX look a bit dowdy.

In spite of the new looks, the new car is only 1cm longer than the old one. However, the wheelbase is 11cm longer, which is clearly visible in the length of the rear door. That equates to loads more legroom inside, but more of that in a moment.

The new Grand C4 Picasso sits on the all-new EMP2 (also used in the new Peugeot 308), which means a 110kg weight drop on some models. Combined with the 1.6-litre e-HDi diesel engine in the Airdream model, CO2 emissions are a hugely impressive 98g/km (so no road tax to pay), with a claimed average mpg of 74.3.

But it’s not that model we’re driving today, instead we’ve got the new 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesel that still manages 67mpg and 110g/km in spite of its impressive 148bhp output. It’s a punchy performer, if a little noisy at times, so we suspect most buyers will be happy to save cash and go with the Airdream or the 115bhp 1.6-litre diesel.

Whichever model you choose, the interior lives up to the promise of the exterior – it’s stylish and, for the most part, premium. Sure, the glovebox lid and other plastics on the bottom half of the dash are a bit scratchy, but above that, nicely textured, plush feeling materials, combine for a minimalist look.

The touchscreen that controls the climate control, navigation and even email and Facebook updates (if you subscribe to Citroen’s Multicity Connect system) helps to clean up the dash, but there are still buttons sprinkled on the steering wheel like hundreds and thousands on a birthday cake.

In our top-spec Exclusive + model (and Exclusives, too) you also get a gorgeous 12-inch TFT screen for the main display that can be customised with different content and colours – very Mercedes S-Class.

In fact, the Mercedes comparison isn’t as mad as it may seem – our car should cost around £28,000, but also came with luxury features such as a full-length panoramic roof, massaging seats, keyless start, self parking and 360degree cameras.

For once, we wouldn’t be surprised if customers took advantage of the tech with the top-spec cars, although the range will start at just over £19,000 when it goes on sale in January.

But for all that, will the family fit in? That extra 11cm has made space in the middle row of seats truly enormous. It’s still tight in row three, but there’s more room now to compromise by sliding the individual seats in row two forward.

Access is good, with Citroen retaining the easy to use folding seats from the previous car – it takes seconds to go from two to five to seven seats with all five rear chairs folding into the floor.

The driving experience is much improved, too. Ride comfort is still comfortable, but less floaty, although you just can’t avoid a tall-sided leaning a bit through fast bends. The steering has more weight and feel than before, but that’s not saying much.

Visibility is still a real plus point, too – forwards through the oversized windscreen with matching quarterlights, or rearwards through the deep side and rear windows, while safety standards are what you’d hope for to protect your family.

Citroen may not quite have achieved the impossible and made the MPV sexy, but the Grand C4 Picasso is set to be the most desirable people carrier you can buy.

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