Best people carrier: New Car Awards 2014

The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is the 2014 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the Citroen C4 Picasso and SEAT Alhambra commended

Most seven-seat models are very practical but just a little too sensible and staid. However, that’s not the case with the head-turning Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, which effortlessly combines form and function.

The distinctive French machine looks great no matter which angle you view it from, and there are plenty of neat details and design flourishes throughout. It’s the same story for the interior, which is boldly styled, well built and packed with luxurious materials. Yet none of these eye-catching additions comes at the expense of practicality. At the core of the Picasso are its abilities as an extremely versatile family-friendly holdall. For starters, the cabin is vast and packed with thoughtful touches.

Best MPVs

The seven-seat layout is very flexible and the individual seats can be folded flat to create a van-like 2,181 litres of carrying capacity.

Yet first and foremost these machines are people carriers, and it’s when the seats are up that the Citroen really scores. The middle row gets a trio of full-sized chairs, plus acres of head and legroom. Even the two rearmost seats will accommodate adults, unlike many rivals’.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso interior

Of course, you wouldn’t expect an MPV to drive like a sports car, but the confidence-inspiring C4 always feels capable and composed, allowing you to throw it around like a family hatchback. However, it’s the comfort and refinement that really steal the show, as the hushed Picasso floats serenely over bumps that would send shockwaves through rivals.

Finally, a range of impressively frugal diesel engines – the thirsty petrol is best avoided – means the Citroen will cost pennies to run, despite looking like a million dollars. Never has being sensible been so fashionable.

Our choice:

Grand C4 Picasso 2.0 HDi Exclusive (£24,455)

Plush Exclusive trim lets you enjoy the full first class travel experience of the Picasso’s spacious cabin and refined cabin. Smooth 2.0-litre HDi is a gutsy and frugal performer.

Commended people carriers

Citroen C4 Picasso

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso interior

Just like the Grand C4 but in a smaller package, the standard C4 Picasso is also a tempting offering. The five-seater cabin is extremely roomy and full of neat additions, while the bold styling takes its cues from is seven-seater big brother. You also get the same refined and highly relaxing driving experience.

SEAT Alhambra

SEAT Alhambra Best MPV

It’s missed out on its fourth win in a row, but the Alhambra is still a top choice. Its boxy lines hide one of the biggest cabins around, helping to make this the seven-seater to choose if you frequently travel seven-up. And while it’s not glamorous to look at, the SEAT is good to drive, well built and backed by great-value prices.

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