2014 CITROEN GRAND C4 PICASSO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: People mover
Price: $43,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kW/370Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.5 l/100km | tested: 6.2 l/100km
Is it wrong to get excited over a minivan? In the case of the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, no. Not at all.
When a family bus looks this futuristic, comes packed with so many features, drives so well and feels so spacious, it’s hard not to get a little giddy about it.
Yes, “people mover” and “exciting” rarely show up in the same sentence, but the Grand C4 Picasso is undoubtedly the most exciting vehicle in its segment.
Why? Read on.
Quality: The interior is as contemporary as they come, and the materials too.
There’s a big, expansive soft-touch dash, carpeted/flocked surfaces in storage compartments and a distinct absence of leather-textured plastics.
The only quality issue concerned a section of C-pillar trim that occasionally buzzed at high speed. Otherwise, the Picasso’s interior is solidly constructed.
Comfort: The front seats are very good; cushions are firm but nicely sculpted for long-distance comfort.
Fold-down armrests also keep you comfy, and the driving position is quite high for a non-SUV.
The view ahead is magnificent through the Picasso’s gigantic windscreen. The A-pillars are ultra-skinny and easy to see around, perhaps the slimmest we’ve seen in a modern car.
The second-row slides fore and aft, and equally-sized individual seats mean the centre occupant doesn’t have to sacrifice any comfort.
Squab length is fairly short in the second row, but, on the plus side, the backrests recline and there are individual fan controls for each B-pillar mounted face-level air vent.
Fold-down tray tables in the front seat backrests are also handy for meals on-the-go, or just as a place to rest your phone.
The panoramic glass sunroof also gives the rear cabin a pleasant ambience, without intruding too heavily into headroom.
The third row is small, but with the second row slid forward a couple of notches, legroom is not all that bad for smaller adults.
Our fifth passenger was quite comfortable in the third row for much of the road trip, and with the middle seat in the second row folded flat there was more than enough legroom for him to sprawl out.
But if you put three adults across the second row, be prepared to rub shoulders. The Picasso makes the most of its interior space, but its relatively narrow width can be felt when the car is at capacity.
Equipment: Available in just one specification, every Grand Picasso comes packed to the gunwales with equipment.
Dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth audio and telephony, cruise control, power windows, keyless entry and ignition, foglamps, 7-inch touchscreen - they’re all there as standard.
But what’s more impressive are the other things on the spec sheet. Things that often cost big money, and all standard.
Like a panoramic glass sunroof, blind-spot monitors, a 360-degree camera system, digital radio tuner, sat-nav, internet connectivity and a cool 12-inch reconfigurable digital dashboard.
For example, you can’t keep the map displayed in the upper screen while changing the cabin temperature using the lower touchscreen, and the digital radio tuner refused to work while we had the car.
A powered tailgate would also be handy - it’s a $1000 option - but with such an overstuffed spec list, it’s hard to complain.
Storage: There are storage compartments galore.
Not only are there small compartments beneath each front seat, but the centre console box is huge.
There’s also a generously-sized cubby at the base of the centre stack (which also houses two USB ports) and underfloor compartments at the second row.
There’s really not a whole lot of space behind the third row when it’s raised in place, with a slim area measuring 165 litres in volume that’s really only good for a few shopping bags and maybe an umbrella.
With just the second row in place, cargo volume balloons out to a useful 632 lites - or 793 litres if you slide the second row fully forward.
Fold those second row seats flat (which can only be accomplished by awkwardly reaching around the back and pulling a tab at the seat base), and you get a huge 2191 cargo area.
There’s also a 12-volt outlet and removeable torch mounted in the boot space, but there’s also the irritating omission of shopping bag hooks.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Even though loaded up with five blokes and their luggage, the Picasso never faltered on our long-distance highway drive.
The 2.0 litre turbodiesel’s outputs of 110kW and 370Nm are not earth-shattering, but we found more than enough torque to pull the Picasso along with ease. Even when overtaking, the Picasso barely breaks a sweat.
The route we took along the Western Highway is also far from flat, but the Picasso motored up the steepest hills without losing any momentum, and rarely needed to drop down a gear to do so.
The six-speed automatic behaves oddly on occasion though, sometimes holding a low gear for a few seconds after only moderate acceleration.
That said, it has the right spread of ratios to match the diesel engine’s performance.
However, that dinky little twig that serves as the gear selector is a royal pain to use.
We understand it cleans up the interior design, but Citroen really needs to look at Mercedes-Benz to see how a modern column-shifter should work.
Refinement: On coarse-chip roads tyre roar rears its ugly head, but its not so loud that it will have you shouting over.
On smoother sections of highway, the Picasso is blissfully quiet. The diesel engine, though a tad noisy at idle, settles down to a muted thrum when at speed, and wind noise is absent.
Ride and Handling: It’s a van, so don’t expect miracles in the handling department. The steering is light and there’s body roll aplenty, but this is a family car. Sharp handling is not the priority.
Instead, it’s comfort and control that are most important, and here the Picasso excels.
The Western highway can pretty lumpy, and it’s a good test of a car’s damping characteristics. But, after many hundreds of kilometres, there were few complaints from the travelling companions.
The ride soaks up bumps with astounding ease, and the recovery is near instant.
France must be full of roads like this, because this is one exceptional car when it comes to ride comfort.
Off the highway, it’s just as good. The suspension works just as well to iron out the road, the steering is light and the turning circle, at 10.8 metres, is nice and tight for a car like this.
Braking: On the couple of occasions we REALLY had to stomp on the left pedal, the Picasso responded quickly and with great force - a fine attribute for a car designed to carry one’s family.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso scored 34.53 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, blind spot monitors and four exterior cameras are standard.
Occupants are protected by three-point seatbelts on every seat, as well as six airbags (dual front, front side, curtain airbags for first and second row). There are three ISOFIX anchorages on the second row.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Six years/unlimited kilometres. Includes six years of free roadside-assistance.
Service costs: tbc
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Kia Rondo Platinum ($38,990) - We like the Rondo, but the Kia is more cramped inside and less-lavishly equipped than the Citroen.
In top-spec Platinum trim it’s also a petrol-only affair, whereas the 1.7 litre turbodiesel that’s available elsewhere in the range is a more appropriate drivetrain.
Still, the Kia’s sub-$40k retail price is a definite advantage over the $44k Picasso (see Rondo reviews)
Honda Odyssey VTi-L ($47,620) - Though it’s actually narrower than the Picasso, the Odyssey’s greater length means even those in the third row enjoy great space and comfort.
The second row in the VTi-L is also particularly comfortable, with two individually-reclining captains chairs rather than the Citroen’s narrow triple-seat arrangement.
There’s no diesel available in the Odyssey though, and fuel economy suffers as a result. (see Odyssey reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has few flaws and many positives.
If you’re looking for a well-featured seven-seater that drives better than the average SUV, it’s the car for you.
Even if you don’t need seven seats, it’s a cracking machine.
It offers plenty of space for passengers, loads of electronic gizmos, and ties it all together in a package that looks capable of time-travel.
If you're thinking the $43,990 asking price is a bit on the high side, Citroen has another cherry to put on top: the six-year warranty and six-year free roadside assistance.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
2014 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Exclusive - $43,990