Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.

A certain blue and yellow logoed Swedish furniture store is hardly the first place I’d think of when trying to come up with a suitable destination for a day’s car reviewing. But, with Mrs B suddenly showing a previously unforeseen interest in garden seating arrangements whilst simultaneously eyeing-up the boot space in the Grand C4 Picasso Citroen had kindly lent me over the recent bank holiday weekend, no where I could come up with seemed more appropriate, or indeed important. The Evo triangle would have to wait. M6 Junction 9 it had to be.

Granted, a people carrier is hardly the kind of thing that has you hankering for mountain passes or a sinuous Welsh B-road. And judging by the amount of similarly sized family-wagons marooned in said car-park upon our arrival - their occupants clearly devoting more attention to the flat-pack than their parallel parking - the out-of-town shopping centre seems to be the MPV’s altogether more natural habitat.

That’s not to say that the Grand C4 Picasso simply blends in of course. If anything, the latest version of Citroen’s Spanish named and Spanish built seven-seater is as distinctive and as attractive as anything in its class can get. Based on the new EMP2 platform that incidentally also supports sister company Peugeot’s 308 and will go on to make up the base of 50% of the PSA group’s total output, the new Grand C4 Picasso is not only lighter and more economical than the car it replaces, it’s also far better looking too.                                                

Its roof rails have been integrated into the A pillars and curl down into the C pillars. The headlamps sit below the LED running lights and slender chevron grille. The glass area is simply vast. And yet there’s sense of solidity in the overall design, a mix of quirky Gallic flair and a new found Germanic-like minimalism that all add up to make the Grand C4 Picasso probably the best looking MPV you can buy.

Inside that sense of space and minimalism continue. The Grand C4 Picasso now boasts the longest wheelbase in its class and as result, thanks also in part to the standard panoramic sunroof and extended windscreen, the interior feels cavernous. Three six-footers can easily fit across the middle row of seats – or three child seats thanks to a trio of Isofix points – and even the two rearmost seats that fold in to the boot floor when not in use can happily accommodate the smaller of members of you brood. Larger siblings however probably won’t find them quite as comfortable.

Further forward you’ll find an almost button-less dash. Citroen have instead opted to fit not only a 12” TFT screen that displays speed, revs, temperature, fuel, not to mention another 10 of the C4’s vital signs, they’ve also bestowed the dash with another smaller touchscreen that controls functions such as the radio – digital of course -  the climate control and the sat-nav. Even the demist functions are touch sensitive. It all takes a little getting used to as there’s no default home-screen for the system to return to after you’ve made your demands; it’s a little distracting too. It might also go some way to explaining why the flat bottomed steering wheel and (optional) massaging seats are festooned with buttons. Still, it all seems to work well enough – well for now at least.

Just by looking at the pictures you’ll probably worked out the Grand C4 Picasso is no sports-car either, however, Citroen have made a good job of not allowing the C4 to feel too bus-like. Despite a slightly notchy gearshift and the inevitable MPV body roll when cornering, things remain composed and more than comfortable for the most part, and it’s quiet too. A five star NCAP safety rating, a range of safety features including lane assist, reversing camera and active cruise control, plus a plethora of airbags also add further reassurance. A 0-62 time of 12.1 seconds is hardly pulse raising stuff, but the pay-off is the  promise of 70.6 mpg on the combined cycle and a tax disc that boasts the word nil. Surely, that should be enough to put a smile on any driver?

I’m probably not the only one who suspects that MPVs are bought out of necessity rather than desire. Nevertheless there’s no need for them to lack style. Citroen also seem to have grasped this. As practical and as sensible as the Grand C4 Picasso is, whatever your Saturday afternoon destination, it should make a welcome addition to any demanding family.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ e-HDi 115 Airdream

Engine: 1560cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual, front wheel drive.
Power:  115 bhp @ 3600pm
Torque: 199 lbft @ 1750rpm
0-62MPH: 12.1 Sec
Max Speed: 117 mph
CO2: 105g/km
MPG: 70.1 combined
Price: £25,655 (Car driven £29,750)

Many thanks to Citroen’s UK press office for the loan of their Grand C4 Picasso

www.liam-bird.com

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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