It wasn’t too long ago when people carriers had a thirst for fuel that rivalled that of 4x4s, but the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso aims to change all that, with 74.3mpg possible from the e-HDi 90 model.
Decent to drive
7 seats and lots of space
Economical for its size
You have to look away from the road to look at the instruments and to use most controls, the majority of which are accessed via the central touch screen
It wasn’t too long ago when MPVs ranked with 4x4s as some of the most uneconomical cars on sale. However all that has now changed with a new breed of economical people carriers on sale, headed by the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. The e-HDi 90 model is capable of 74.3mpg, and the more powerful, top of the range Blue HDi 150 automatic as tested can still manage 61.4mpg – which is very respectable for a 7-seater people carrier.
The Grand C4 Picasso benefits from PSA’s latest platform which offers significant packaging and weight advantages. The net result is more space inside, less bulk outside, and an impressively low kerb weight, helping to deliver excellent fuel consumption. To maximise the fuel economy you do need to go for the e-HDi 90 and the automated manual gearbox option, but it is worth noting that if this ‘box isn’t your cup of tea, the manual is pretty efficient too.
The most important aspect of any MPV is its ability to move lots of people in comfort. By this measure the Grand Picasso is excellent. Interior space is very good and the occasional third row of seats is usable. There is a great sense of airiness helped no end by the huge amount of glass and the standard ‘panoramic’ windscreen.
Although practicality is absolutely key, MPV buyers are increasingly looking for style too. The front end is certainly individual, regardless of whether you like the styling. The alloy wheels on our test car also look good, and give the impression that they are very aerodynamic.
The interior feels modern and spacious with quality materials, and up front, the dashboard is curvy, sculptured and, in the best Citroen style, interesting and quirky – in fact it’s not dissimilar to the environment inside a BMW i3. The spacious feel is helped by there being no gear selector in the conventional place – instead, it’s on the steering column. There’s lots of storage in the car, and the plastic storage area that sits where the gear selector would be can even be lifted out, giving yet more space.
A clever touch is an additional small rear-view mirror which is aimed at the children in the rear seats.
The vast majority of the controls for the car are on the touchscreen – more of that later – and any other controls appear on the rather busy steering wheel.
Visibility is great thanks to the high driving position, but this height doesn’t do anything to counteract the car feeling big and heavy through corners. The Grand C4 Picasso is much happier on motorways, when it’s very comfortable, quiet, refined, powerful and fairly effortless to drive.
The automatic transmission generally works well, although it can sometimes be a bit sluggish, especially to change down. If you want to control which gear you’re in, you can do this via steering-wheel mounted paddles.
So the driving experience is generally good, and the interior environment is attractive and upmarket, but there are some issues. Chief amongst these is the touchscreen. The main problem is that you have to use the touchscreen for most vehicle control functions. So you’re forever reaching over to touch the screen, even to change the temperature inside the car – which can get very tiresome. If all roads were perfectly smooth, then this would be less of a problem, but trying to scroll between different screens and touch small icons when driving on bumpy roads is a nightmare.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are absolutely no instruments in front of the driver – they’re also in the centre of the car, above the touchscreen. So you always have to take your eyes away from the road ahead to look left to the instruments – including to view your speed – and down to the car’s touchscreen. In our view, this is not good at all, especially at a time when other manufacturers are introducing excellent head-up display systems, right in the driver’s field of view.
There’s also no rev counter. It’s also easy to hit the wiper stalk rather than the steering column-mounted gear selector. In the dark, it’s easy to reach down for the handbrake, but open a storage compartment instead. And you can’t keep the fuel economy read-out on display all the time – it appears for a few seconds then disappears. However you do have the ability to view photos, or a graphic showing how far away the car in front is – although presumably you can see this with your eyes (unless you’re instead looking at photos on the touchscreen).
The official combined economy figure for the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso is 61.4mpg – equating to 120g/km CO2. We achieved an average overall fuel economy of 47.8mpg – not bad for a 7-seater MPV doing lots of motorway driving. We were able to average 52.2mpg with more careful, non-motorway driving. All this also translates to a long driving range.
If you want to go for the most economical model, that would be the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso VTR e-HDi 90 Airdream ETG6 (phew!), with a combined fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg and 98g/km CO2. It’s also cheaper than our test car, at £20,595.
Our test car cost £27,855, plus options – which included full leather at £2,000 – making the total price of the Grand C4 Picasso a fairly hefty £31,765, although it does come with a lot of equipment.
The model range includes a 1.6 VTi 120, a 1.6e-HDi 90, a 1.6e-HDi 115, a 1.6 THP 155, and the 2.0 Blue HDi 150. Prices start at £19,205 and rise to the £27,855 of our test car.
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a welcome addition to the 7-seater market, offering quirkiness, efficiency and practicality in a distinctive package. It drives well and the interior is a pleasant environment, and although the dashboard looks good, we really don’t like the central location of the main instruments. In the spec of our test car, it’s also getting expensive. Nevertheless the Grand C4 Picasso is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.