Mercedes B-Class vs Citroen C4 Picasso & VW Golf SV
New Mercedes B-Class proves MPVs can score on prestige and practicality. Can it beat VW and Citroen?
Buyers of family cars have never had it so good. Whether you’re after a hatchback, estate, crossover or SUV, there’s something for every taste and budget. Yet, versatile MPVs are still the kings of spacious family transport.
The latest model to join the fray is the freshly facelifted Mercedes B-Class. Featuring sharper looks, an upgraded interior and lower running costs, the upmarket five-seater has its sights firmly set on the top of the class.
It’s tested here in B 220 CDI Sport 4MATIC guise, but it’s got to be something truly special to rival our reigning MPV champ, the boldly styled Citroen C4 Picasso. The French car is spacious, refined, comfortable, hugely desirable – particularly in flagship 2.0 HDi Exclusive+ guise – and loaded with intelligent kit.
Completing the line-up is the Volkswagen Golf SV, which promises to match the Mercedes for upmarket appeal and deliver the same slick driving experience and desirable image as the smaller Golf hatch. So, which of our versatile trio wins this space race?
Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which family-friendly MPV comes out on top...
When it comes to cabin versatility, the Picasso takes some beating. Unlike its rivals here, it has three individual rear seats that can slide and recline independently.
More importantly for growing families, each features an Isofix mounting (above) – which means the C4’s bench will accommodate a trio of baby seats. The seats can also be folded flat in a single movement, creating a smooth and cavernous 1,851-litre load area.
Our cars have a number of family friendly touches. The Merc comes with a collapsible plastic crate stored under the boot floor, while the VW’s flock-lined door bins stop items rattling around. The C4 leads the way with a conversation mirror, rechargeable torch and hidden storage in the footwells.
The Merc and VW have seven and six-speed twin-clutch gearboxes respectively. A torque-convertor auto option for the C4 2.0 HDi has recently been introduced, too.
The Citroen’s six-speed unit costs an extra £1,000 and hikes the CO2 emissions of Exclusive+ models from 105g/km to 120g/km.
1st place: Citroen C4 Picasso
Once again, the Picasso emerges as our winner. Not only is it daringly designed, lavishly equipped and solidly built, it’s more spacious than its rivals here and bursting with family friendly features. It’s also comfortable, refined and hugely relaxing to be behind the wheel of. Plus, the 2.0-litre HDi serves up a strong blend of great real-world performance and low running costs.
2nd place: VW Golf SV
If you want a Golf with a little more space, then you won’t go wrong with the SV. Featuring impeccable build quality, composed driving dynamics and a roomy interior, it’ll suit most growing families down to the ground. However, we can’t help feeling that Volkswagen has been a little conservative with the SV, as it could have added more versatile touches.
3rd place: Mercedes B-Class
The revised B-Class is a premium choice, but its spacious cabin and boot make it more practical than standard hatchbacks. Yet the Merc doesn’t pack enough clever touches to stand out from the MPV crowd. Also counting against its are the clattery diesel and clunky twin-clutch transmission. And while the two-wheel-drive version is close to the SV on price, it’s not as well equipped.
|Citroen C4 Picasso 2.0HDi Exclusive+||VW Golf SV GT 2.0 TDI DSG||Mercedes B 220 CDI Sport 4MATIC|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£25,410/£25,410||£27,015/£29,450||£28,625/£30,175|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£10,367/40.8%||£11,508/42.6%||£12,051/42.1%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£862/£1,724||£1,132/£2,264||£1,257/£2,514|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,290/£2,151||£1,366/£2,277||£1,564/£2,607|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||24/£375/B/£20||17/£304/D/£110||23/£383/D/£110|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£24pcm (3yrs/35k)||£15.99pcm (3yrs/30k)||£24pcm (3 over 3yrs)|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,997cc||4cyl in-line/1,968cc||4cyl in-line/2,143cc|
|Peak power/revs||148/4,000 bhp/rpm||148/3,500 bhp/rpm||175/3,400 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||370/2,000 Nm/rpm||340/1,750 Nm/rpm||350/1,400 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/fwd||6-spd auto/fwd||7-spd auto/4wd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||55 litres/sealant||50 litres/space-saver||56 litres/space-saver|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||537-630/1,851 litres||500-590/1,520 litres||488/1,547 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.8 metres/N/A||11.1 metres/N/A||11.0 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (unltd)/4yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||20,000 miles (1yr)/196||Variable/223||Variable/136|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||26th/23rd||19th/31st||9th/21st|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||86/88/68/5||87/85/62/5||97/81/56/5|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.6/9.1 seconds||8.2/8.1 seconds||7.8/7.7 seconds|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||3.9/6.9 seconds||3.1/5.5 seconds||N/A/3.3 seconds|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th||8.3/11.3 seconds||7.6/10.4 seconds||4.7/6.2/8.3 seconds|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||130mph/2,000rpm||130mph/1,900rpm||137mph/2,100rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||67/46/64/69dB||69/50/64/71dB||69/44/60/68dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||48.6/10.8/588 miles||45.9/10.1/505 miles||40.1/8.8/494 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||156/105g/km/17%||165/125g/km/21%||189/130g/km/22%|
|Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl||£1,000/yes/yes||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/yes/£1,495*|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/£1,750/£1,750**||£415/£1,895/£380||£2,595*/£1,495*/£295|
|Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go||£520/£750/yes||£540/£815/£365||£575/£1,550^/£425|