REVIEW DATE: 04 Oct 2007
Citroen's Xsara Picasso sold like hot cakes. Will the bigger Grand C4 Picasso replicate those figures? Andy Enright reports.
Market forces can, on occasion, be tough things to wrap your brain around. What's instantly popular may not appear at first to be particularly merit-worthy but a product or service can find success through canny marketing. Such was the case with the Citroen Xsara Picasso. I must admit I never particularly liked the thing, but it's easy to see why it sold as fast as Citroen could bolt them together. In offering something with a respectable badge at prices that were more akin to South East Asian cheapies, it made all kinds of sense. The shape never really screamed Citroen though. The French manufacturer has a reputation for elegance and functionality and while the Picasso did fairly well on the latter count, it scored low on the former. Step forward the latest Picasso iteration, based on the C4 chassis. Now we're talking.
It's not strictly a replacement for the Xsara Picasso, instead, in the 'Grand C4 Picasso' form we're looking at here, offering a seven-seat option to those who don't want to go the whole way to something supersized like the C8 MPV. Prices start at around £15,000, a premium of around £500 over the five-seat C4 Picasso that you can also buy. We'd go for the super-sized option every time.
In both guises, the C4 Picasso rounds out Citroen's portfolio of people carriers that opens with the Berlingo Multispace and now extends to five distinct models. What it also brings to the party is the sort of styling one would expect if tasked with designing a Citroen people carrier from a blank sheet of paper. It looks long, relatively low and decidedly futuristic, with wheels at each corner and a high waistline. Even 'dynamic' multi-purpose models like the Ford S-MAX look a little frumpy in comparison.
Although the Grand C4 Picasso's athletic stance is the first thing to catch your eye, the second is the wide-angle panoramic windscreen that rises up and over the front seat occupants, doubling vertical visibility in the front to seventy degrees compared to 35 degrees in a standard MPV.
"Imagine a seven-seater Citroen mini MPV designed from a clean sheet of paper. The Grand C4 Picasso can't be far off that template"
Vauxhall may have already offered a similar thing as an option on the latest Astra but this is the first time it's been fitted as standard to an MPV and the effect is just stunning, the sheer acreage of glass in front of the driver being at first a little unnerving. It's almost like the cockpit of a jet fighter. By slimming down the windscreen pillars, the effect of airiness and front visibility is increased still further. It's not just a styling affect either, the added field of view making it easier to spot motorbikes, cycles and pedestrians coming while preventing the usual craned neck when negotiating small roundabouts.
I'm not sure if someone at Citroen has been getting a backhander from a glass manufacturer because the Grand C4 Picasso also features the biggest sunroof in its class, the side windows also helping it towards having the largest glazed area of any mini MPV. All of this glass means that the vehicle needs a seriously punchy air conditioning system to prevent it become a mobile propagator and the Grand C4 Picasso comes up trumps with automatic four zone air con with individual controls for the second row of seats and a second air conditioning system for the rear of the vehicle. There's even a scented air freshener and an air quality sensor that aims to prevent pollutants entering the car.
The Grand C4 Picasso utilises its available space very well. That wheel at each corner stance doesn't just look good, it also maximises space for the all important passenger cell. There are always going to be compromises involved in packaging three rows of seats into a car 4.59m long (for reference a Ford C-MAX is 4.33m long, a Volkswagen Touran measures 4.39m, a Toyota Verso 4.36m and a Vauxhall Zafira breaks the tape at 4.46m) but the ingenuity of manufacturers in reducing the day to day impact of these compromises is where they earn their corn. The most common solution is to sacrifice a little room in the rearmost row and target these as 'occasional' seats for kids. The Citroen offers more space in the footwell on the rearmost set of seats although the raked roofline takes its toll for taller passengers. The more important middle row of seats reaps the benefits and offers more leg and elbow room than any of its competitors.
With the vehicle configured as a five-seater, this car provides 576m of loadspace beneath the parcel shelf. Lose the second row of seats and there's a colossal 1,951 litres of room to play with. Many customers will be swayed by a showroom demonstration of how easy or otherwise the seats are to fold and the Grand C4 Picasso looks set to score in this department too. The second and third rows of chairs can be folded away under the floor without the need to remove the headrests to provide a flat surface that's ideal for loading. The whole design is a good deal more intuitive than the system used on the Vauxhall Zafira. Access to the back seats is good as well. Press a control on the edge of the outer middle seat and the seat cushion flips up to the seat back, the seat then slides against the back of the one in front. No more clambering with muddy feet over the middle row of seats or tearing the pockets off your trousers trying to lever yourself through a minuscule gap.
As with any model that wears the C4 label, the Grand Picasso is packed full of innovative technology including rear air suspension, the option of a six-speed electronic gearshift, an automatic electric parking brake, a parking space measurement system, video screens in the back of the front seats and a DVD player. I could go on but you probably get the point. Whereas the Xsara Picasso differentiated itself in terms of price, the Grand C4 Picasso does so in terms of its rich content.
At present the engine choice extends to a 143bhp 2.0i petrol engine or 110bhp or 138bhp HDi diesels but more powerplants will doubtless join the roster as sales ramp up. And ramp up they certainly will. Although it might not devour the mass market in the same way as the Xsara Picasso, this vehicle looks set to become a very familiar sight on our roads. With styling like this, that can only be a good thing.
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||7.2 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||9|
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