REVIEW DATE: 04 Oct 2007
Citroen know the compact MPV sector and they've pooled their knowledge to create the highly original Grand C4 Picasso. Steve Walker reports.
Light and space, that's what Citroen say they're pedalling where their Grand C4 Picasso is concerned. Don't panic though. Customers who sign on the dotted line will still receive over a tonne and a half of metal, glass, plastic and fabric. It's just that Citroen are relying on less tangible elements to give their compact MPV the edge in the marketplace. From a marque with a longstanding tradition of doing things differently, the Grand C4 Picasso is definitely different and if airy fairy concepts like ambient illumination and panoramic glasswork don't do it for you, there's a solid range of good, honest oil-burning engines to provide some balance.
Citroen are offering a pair of familiar HDi diesel engines, familiar because both have seen service in various other models carrying the double Chevron badge. First up is the 110bhp 1.6-litre option, capable of spiriting the Grand C4 Picasso's considerable bulk to 62mph in 12.7s or 13.4s with the EGS robotised gearbox fitted. The 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel is only offered with EGS transmission and takes 12.5s to reach 60mph. Both diesels feel stronger than the petrol engines under urban driving conditions and most Grand C4 Picasso buyers will opt for one or the other of them because of this and their superior fuel economy. You can expect something in the region or 48mpg from the 1.6 manual, 50mpg from the 1.6 EGS and 46mpg from the 2.0-litre EGS. The diesels are offered across a range of trim levels that spans VTR, VTR+ and Exclusive.
The Grand C4 Picasso is extremely refined on the road but the diesel engines do betray their presence by sending more vibrations through the cabin at idle than their petrol counterparts. The suspension soaks up the bumps in a very composed manner and performs well enough through corners, although this isn't a vehicle that you feel like pressing on in with its light steering and mild performance. It makes far more sense to sit back and enjoy what is a very relaxed driving experience and the highly original interior.
"The extensive glazed area means that natural light comes flooding in"
Climbing aboard the Grand C4 Picasso for the first time may leave you a little taken aback. MPVs are expected to harbour innovative design solutions beneath their voluminous bodywork but the black polo-necked brigade at Citroen have really gone to town this time. The glass area is huge. The panoramic windscreen arcs overhead and after just a short interruption for the panel holding the extendable sun visors, an optional full length sunroof can extend all the way back to the third row. Wishbone-shaped windscreen pillars have glazed centre sections to further boost visibility and the sun visors can slide forward when needed to shield the eyes of front seat occupants on sunny days. Factor in the low window line and Citroen have created a kind of greenhouse for the growing family where all seven occupants get and unhindered view out. To avoid your own miniature greenhouse effect, however, the sun blinds and heat reflective windscreen that come as standard with the plusher Picasso models might be a good bet.
The extensive glazed area on the Grand C4 Picasso means that natural light comes flooding in, until it gets dark. At this point, buyers who opted for the Exclusive trim have the interior lighting pack to fall back on. This delivers adjustable mood lighting for the interior, bringing the Grand C4 Picasso's interior light source count up to an astonishing 32. Particularly neat are illuminated door pockets that light-up when you put your hand in to retrieve something.
Another touch that's typically Citroen is the boot light that doubles as a rechargeable and removable torch to guide you to your door in gloomy conditions. Traditionalists may mourn the passing of the flimsy Modubox collapsible shopping trolley that lived in the boot of the old Xsara Picasso but it's a mark of how the Picasso has grown-up that even its gimmicks are more sophisticated.
You've heard of outer space but its inner space where MPVs must stand or fall and the Grand C4 Picasso certainly feels big. This is partly due to all that glass - you're never quite sure where the inside ends and the outside begins - but the sheer quantity of room inside the cabin is no illusion. There are seven seats in all models and unusually in this class of vehicle, there's even room for a little bit of luggage when the third row is in use. At just over six feet tall, I managed to cram myself into one of the back row seats without too much difficulty, aided by the clever way the outside seats in the middle row fold up like cinema seating and slide forward with the tug of a handle for easier access. I wouldn't want to stay cooped up in the back for long though. It's far better to leave these berths for the kids or fold them under the floor to take advantage of 672-litre capacity that's then created. Fold all of the seats down, a feat which can be performed in an impressive 20 seconds by a well-drilled PR man, and there's a massive 1,951 litres to play with.
There's no handbrake in the C4 Picasso, at least not in the traditional sense, and the gearlever is either dash-mounted or completely absent in the case of the EGS-equipped automatic models which use a column-mounted stalk and paddle shifters to operate the transmission. This creates a wide space between the front seat and a feeling of openness around the whole front of cabin area. The dashboard is cleanly designed and remarkably uncluttered with many of the controls relocated to the Citroen trademark fixed hub steering wheel and separate air-con buttons for driver and passenger at the fascia's extremities. Some acclimatisation will be required before you can access all the Picasso's myriad functions through the complicated-looking helm but the large colour information display will help. Storage bins pop-up at every turn in this vehicle, including a particularly neat air-conditioned one beneath the dash to keep drinks cool.
Citroen were key players in a compact MPV market that exploded from nowhere to account for 200,000 units in the space of a decade and the Grand C4 Picasso seems equipped to continue that along with its 5-seat relative the C4 Picasso. The Xsara Picasso proved that Citroen's often unorthodox approach to car design tallies well with the requirements of buyers in this sector but the Grand C4 Picasso moves the game on.
Refinement is extremely impressive and although some of the plastics seem less than robust in places, the build quality is real step forward for the brand. Perhaps most significantly, the striking design and attention to detail ensure that the Grand C4 Picasso is a vehicle that people can form an emotional attachment to, just like the best Citroens of the past. Pick out a model with an HDi engine and the EGS gearbox and you'll have a frugal and functional new member of the family.
The results below show the top C4 GRAND PICASSO deals on buyacar
|Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 2.0 HDi 150 Platinum 5dr EGS6 diesel estate|
|Price £16,743||Save £7,271|
|Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 2.0 HDi 150 Platinum 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £16,405||Save £6,995|
|Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 e-HDi Airdream Platinum 5dr EGS6 diesel estate|
|Price £16,202||Save £6,898|
|Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 HDi Platinum 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £15,728||Save £6,672|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT C4 GRAND PICASSO DEALS|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||9|
Let our car quote assistant help you configure your ideal new C4 Grand Picasso - it's 100% free and easy to use...