Car group tests

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.

Best 7-seaters on the market

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?

Mercedes B-Class review

Citroen C4 Picasso review

Volkswagen Golf SV review

Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which family-friendly MPV comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Seating

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.

Practical touches

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.

Gearboxes

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.

Verdict

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

Mercedes B-Class - front tracking

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.

Key specs: 

 Citroen C4 Picasso 2.0HDi Exclusive+VW Golf SV GT 2.0 TDI DSGMercedes 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%
Depreciation£15,043£15,507£16,574
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/cost24/£375/B/£2017/£304/D/£11023/£383/D/£110
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£24pcm (3yrs/35k)£15.99pcm (3yrs/30k)£24pcm (3 over 3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase4,428/2,785mm4,338/2,685mm4,393/2,699mm
Height/width1,625/1,826mm1,578/1,807mm1,557/1,786mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,997cc4cyl in-line/1,968cc4cyl in-line/2,143cc
Peak power/revs148/4,000 bhp/rpm148/3,500 bhp/rpm175/3,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs370/2,000 Nm/rpm340/1,750 Nm/rpm350/1,400 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd auto/fwd7-spd auto/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel55 litres/sealant50 litres/space-saver56 litres/space-saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)537-630/1,851 litres500-590/1,520 litres488/1,547 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,415/615/1,700kg1,492/573/1,600kg1,575/520/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.8 metres/N/A11.1 metres/N/A11.0 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (unltd)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers20,000 miles (1yr)/196Variable/223Variable/136
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.26th/23rd19th/31st9th/21st
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars86/88/68/587/85/62/597/81/56/5
    
0-60/30-70mph9.6/9.1 seconds8.2/8.1 seconds7.8/7.7 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.9/6.9 seconds3.1/5.5 secondsN/A/3.3 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th8.3/11.3 seconds7.6/10.4 seconds4.7/6.2/8.3 seconds
Top speed/rpm at 70mph130mph/2,000rpm130mph/1,900rpm137mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph46.8/34.6/9.0m46.0/32.9/8.6m52.7/39.1/9.8m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph67/46/64/69dB69/50/64/71dB69/44/60/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range48.6/10.8/588 miles45.9/10.1/505 miles40.1/8.8/494 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined64.2/76.3/70.6mpg52.3/64.2/58.9mpg47.9/62.8/56.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined14.1/16.8/15.5mpl11.5/14.1/13.0mpl10.5/13.8/12.4mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket156/105g/km/17%165/125g/km/21%189/130g/km/22%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park. sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSeven/yes/yes/£165Seven/yes/no/yes
Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl£1,000/yes/yesYes/yes/yesYes/yes/£1,495*
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£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
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes£995/yes/£430/yes

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