Long-term test review: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Final report: We say au revoir to stylish MPV after 8,000 miles, two countries and countless passengers

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Find your Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
9/10 sellers got the price they expected

Mileage: 8,880 milesReal-world fuel economy: 40.2mpg

Our Citroen Grand C4 Picasso leaves the Auto Express fleet having changed my perception of MPVs. Forget boxy ‘bus-like’ exteriors, sluggish under-powered engines or cramped rear folding seats, because the level of light, comfort and flexibility the Citroen possesses is remarkable. Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is the style with which it ticks all those boxes.

I love the sleek dashboard design with its simple touchscreen controls, and all the interior materials feel lovely. The soft textures on the dash and the armchair-like leather seats in our Exclusive+ model really give a feeling of luxury.

Yet, however futuristic and clean the interior lines might appear, it’s not just about style. The lack of knobs and buttons on the dashboard helps to create a feeling of space, as does the steering column-mounted gearshift, which opens up legroom in the front of the car. Combine this with the light-coloured leather interior, panoramic glass roof and generous headroom and you get an effortlessly roomy vehicle.

And all this space has been particularly useful for family visits over the summer holidays. I’ve moved plenty of passengers in the Picasso, as its large size and versatility meant we could give people lifts or invite them to join us on days out.The ease with which the C4 converts from five to seven seats is impressive.

One thing I did need to remember, however, was to leave the removable parcel shelf at home. It’s clunky and awkward to store, and has to be removed to access the fold-out rear seats which glide out of their stowed position before they click reassuringly into place.

Access to the third row is simple, as the second row of seats can be folded individually, allowing each one to slide forward, giving access to what I jokingly referred to as the ‘Granny storage area’ – although in reality it was my kids who wanted to sit in the back seats of the Wilson bus (some things never change).

Driving the Citroen has been a pleasure, too. It was most at home on our holiday in France, where the open autoroutes highlighted its comfort and refinement. Elsewhere it was quick and responsive, while the auto stop-start cut in to help boost the C4’s fuel return to 40.2 mpg, despite it spending plenty of time in congested London traffic.

The C4 comes packed with other great tech, too, from massaging front seats to auto dip headlights. The danger is that with all these electrics comes the increased risk of glitches. It’s happened a handful of times, with a few warning lights flashing on and off. They wouldn’t be that noticeable, if it weren’t for the stressful warning chime which accompanies them. Still, I’d rather the alerts than not. The tyre pressure warning system has twice notified me of nails embedded in the rubber.

Driving the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso has reaffirmed that I like practicality and versatility, with comfort and technology... but what I really love is good design and styling. And no car combines these qualities better than the brilliant Grand C4 Picasso. Its replacement certainly has a very tough act to follow.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso: report 2

Spacious, smooth Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is perfect companion for trip to south of France

Mileage: 7,433 milesReal-world fuel economy: 46.0mpg

Since my last glowing report (see below), the impressive Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has scooped the Best MPV prize at the Auto Express New Car Awards 2014. And it seems our seven-seater is doing its best to ensure it holds on to the title in 2015.

Since late March, the stylish MPV has coped effortlessly with family days out and my daily commute, but a recent trip to south-west France really highlighted the Citroen’s talents as a spacious, family friendly, long-distance cruiser.

For starters, the 793-litre boot was big enough to swallow 10 days’ worth of holiday gear for my family of four. And after the wide leather seats of our Exclusive+ model had already made most journeys easy, I wasn’t surprised how comfortable they were for our French trip, despite the long hours we spent in them. Rear passenger blinds and the sunroof cover provided shade from the sun, yet the expanse of glass helped us enjoy the French scenery.

I haven’t always found navigating the controls easy on Citroens or Peugeots in the past, but this car’s ergonomics are wonderful and the touchscreen display is really easy to use. Converting the speedo from mph to kph took just a couple of taps on the screen, while entering our remote rural holiday destination into the sat-nav was equally simple, and the guidance itself was easy to follow. The clear turn arrows with a distance countdown were especially helpful when navigating busy French market towns and the speed limit detector kept me aware of limit changes.

Another highlight is the fact that you can have the mapon the large 12-inch TFT screen, or you can display it on the seven-inch screen ahead of the driver.

Where the Picasso really excelled was on the country’s autoroutes. It’s obvious that this car has been designed with fast dual carriageways in mind, as it was very comfortable, and the active cruise control was in its element. A quick toggle on the steering wheel set the limit, then the car took over.

It’s the closest I’ve come to autonomous driving: the Picasso would slow if the radar sensed another vehicle two seconds in front, but as soon as I pulled into the empty fast lane it accelerated back to the desired speed.

However, if I changed lanes without indicating, I’d get a pull on the right shoulder from the lane assist system, which comes as part of the £300 Serenity pack. This feels like a child repeatedly tugging on your belt from the back seats, which can be irritating – although as with most of the Citroen’s driving aids, it can be turned off.

Once we were at our holiday home, the flexibility of the seven-seat layout came into its own, and we could double up with the rest of the family on day trips. This was helpful, if not essential, but the ability to fit all of our homeward-bound luggage and seven people into the Citroen enabled us to take two family members to the local train station for their journey home.

The only real surprise was how many heads the C4 Picasso turned. Perhaps it was the classy trim and tinted glass that give our car some extra kerb appeal.

Any negatives? Well, there was one after we returned to the UK. The standard tyre pressure sensor indicated a loss of air from the rear driver’s side.

It turned out two nails were embedded in the sidewall. Apart from that, the C4 Picasso hasn’t put a foot wrong.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso: report 1

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

All aboard the luxurious Citroen Grand C4 Picasso seven-seater as we get ready for take-off

Mileage: 4,139 milesReal world fuel economy: 38.7mpg

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I hope you’re enjoying your journey on board the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. We are cruising at a steady 38.7mpg, and as you can see through the panoramic sunroof, the weather is typically awful. Radar collision alert is active, and for your personal comfort, feel free to adjust your seating position and climate control...”

After 12 months running the exceptionally frugal yet uninspiring Toyota Prius Plug-in, I’ve moved into upper class to take charge of our luxurious Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.

Yes, it’s big and practical, which is exactly what you would expect from a seven-seat MPV, but the levels of comfort and refinement have been a revelation. 

Last autumn I borrowed editor-in-chief Steve Fowler’s Range Rover and was blown away by the quality and detail. The inside of our Citroen is the closest I’ve come to that kind of luxury since.

Our Exclusive+ model comes with leather front seats that are exceptionally comfortable. They adjust electrically, and have heating and massage controls to the side. The passenger also has the option to recline and raise a footrest, which gives my wife the option to nod off on long journeys. 

Plus, the dash layout and displays are simple and elegant. They hide a depth of technology, media and safety controls that take time to master, but are intuitively designed without the need to reach for the handbook.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso interior

Cabin materials mirror this simplicity, with a top-quality look and feel to the touch-sensitive controls and trim.

Aside from the comfort, the option to transport seven people rather than five is a real luxury. One-car journeys are now the norm, so extra passengers in the form of grandparents, cousins or school friends can all be accommodated – even with guitar-shaped luggage!

These passengers have been overwhelmingly positive in their response to the Citroen. They love the widely adjustable rear seats with their acres of legroom. In fact, they’ve praised everything – from the individual rear climate control switches to the vast headroom and huge panoramic sunroof – and made references to ‘flying first class’ and ‘travelling in style’.

Any car would struggle to compete against a Prius Plug-in for economy, and the C4 is currently returning a mere 38.7mpg on my daily city commute. It’s made for fuel-sipping on long French autoroutes, but the responsive diesel makes the Picasso surprisingly fun on twisty country lanes; it’s less exciting in town, although stop-start does kick in to make the best of my daily delays. It also records time spent stationary – up to a quarter of my daily commute!

My next big trip will take the Citroen to the Dordogne in France for a family break. Many people would dread such a long drive, but I can’t wait for take-off.

*Insurance quote provided by AA for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Creative director

As Creative director, Darren predominantly looks after the Auto Express magazine; whilst consulting for LRM, Evo and Enzo. He manages everything from photography briefs to layout and logo design. Darren has worked in the motoring industry for over 25 years and loves it.  e-mail: darren_wilson@dennis.co.uk

Most Popular

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market
MG badge

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market

MG has confirmed it is working on an entry-level electric car to rival Citroen e-C3 and new Fiat Panda
29 Feb 2024
Car Deal of the Day: Tesla Model 3 ownership can be a reality from just £238 a month
Used Tesla Model 3 - front cornering

Car Deal of the Day: Tesla Model 3 ownership can be a reality from just £238 a month

This hugely desirable used Tesla Model 3 looks great value at this bargain price, and is our Deal of the Day for 27 February
27 Feb 2024
New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates
Renault 5 - front

New Renault 5: price, specs, launch and on sale dates

The much-loved Renault 5 is back in action as a brand new electric car. Here's everything you need to know about it...
28 Feb 2024