The Citroen C4 Picasso is a seven-seater MPV that looks like no other. It might have just rolled off a motor show floor and onto a production line where it was reverse engineered, mass produced, and sold on showroom floors.
That’s not the case, of course, but the fact remains that Citroen does know a thing or two about making very pleasant, practical cars, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that, perhaps more cautiously, it’s returning to the daring and futuristic designs and ideas that made it famous decades ago.
Where Citroen have always had a knack for offering cars that have no business being so supremely comfortable, they had always lacked by way of consideration for the driver behind the wheel.
Although an MPV is far from an ideal place to look for good handling, there are indications here that the French marque is improving on key fronts while keeping their strengths very much intact. The automaker claims that an extensive testing period had gone into the C4 Grand Picasso’s design and development phase, informing Citroen on how real-world customer lives could be improved by the right kind of car.
If they did end up influencing this very modern-looking MPV with an smartly laid out, well built, and luxurious interior made all the more special and airy by the panoramic ‘Zenith’ windscreen that almost acts like a sunroof in itself. Then, well, thank you very much.
In Australia, it’s offered as a sole high-spec variant called the Exclusive with all the bells and whistles. Competitors to the C4 Grand Picasso include such 7-seater MPVs such as the Toyota Tarago, Honda Odyssey, and Kia Carnival.
“There’s beauty, symmetry, simplicity and personality in the design. If it were a concept car, you’d never expect it to go into production.” - CarAdvice
Built on the PSA Group’s modern EMP2 platform shared with the latest Peugeot products, this second-generation C4 Grand Picasso’s architecture makes for a more lightweight vehicle that would also allow for a longer wheelbase and a spacious interior.
It’s body, though, is where it stands out the most. Subtle curves and rather rounded design motif helps hide the C4 Grand Picasso’s size. It was also one of the first Citroens to wear their now-signature corporate face, incorporating daytime running lights above, and separate from, the main illumination cluster.
Engine and Drivetrain
“The performance is good, although more solid than spritely, and the Grand cruises easily and very quietly on highways. The automatic gearbox is unobtrusive, although I'm no fan of the selector stalk,…” - CarsGuide
The C4 Grand Picasso is offered with a 2.0-litre BlueHDi four-cylinder turbodiesel, an engine that PSA promises to be innovative in its power delivery and efficiency. It certainly has both, with a claimed fuel efficiency as low as 4.5-litres/100km while outputting 110kW and 370Nm of torque.
For a diesel, it’s one of the quietest oil burners we’ve come across; responsive too, boding well for future iterations of this same motor and the PSA engine line-up in general. It’s able to accelerate the C4 Grand Picasso to 100km/h from rest in rather respectable 10.2 seconds given it’s size. And it’s even more impressive with in-gear grunt.
Power is channelled to the road via the front wheels through a six-speed torque converter automatic that suits its relaxed demeanour rather well.
“Excellent ride comfort and quietness add to the relaxed, luxo-cruiser air. In this sense, it’s a genuinely convincing and very ‘French’ upmarket people carrier.” - Top Gear
Sheer airiness is the impression one gets upon entering the C4 Grand Picasso’s cabin, much to the credit of that panoramic windscreen and panoramic glass roof with electric sunblind. Each seat can be sat in by adults and it isn’t compromised too much for third row passengers with adequate legroom for all.
Even with all seven seats erect, there’s 600-litres of boot space, accessed through a very wide hatch and flat floor that makes loading and unloading a breeze. With the seats folded down, though, a cavernous 1,851-litres of storage space becomes available.
The somewhat futuristic design of the exterior carries over to the inside, too, particularly with regard to the unique dashboard layout (which we’ll get to later). It’s quite minimal, for sure, but not bereft of function either. Material quality and build score fairly high here too, which is something that we weren’t able to say of a Citroen product for an irritatingly long time.
Behind The Wheel
“Poise is more important than cornering ability in a full car – although there’s still enough grip to give a reassuring feeling when travelling faster.” - Auto Express
Despite what we alluded to earlier, the C4 Grand Picasso is far from the last word in driving dynamics. It’s an MPV after all. But the steering is reassuringly direct if lacking in feedback while body roll is well controlled under most circumstances but also nicely judged in its tilt progression to allow predictability while driving.
There’s really no better MPV to drive than the Ford S-Max in our opinion, and in this regard the Citroen is continents apart, but the strides observed here are no accident, and indicative of a more self-aware automaker selectively dispatching the right priorities for the right car. Navigating tight streets are nothing that would worry the C4 Grand Picasso driver, though, as the amount of glass around you and make for near perfect all-round visibility.
What the C4 Grand Picasso is, though, more than any rival, is very comfortable. Bumps and harsher road surfaces just do not bother it in the least. Instead, it just shrugs off the odd pothole, almost insultingly snubbing it. The cabin is also well insulated from outside noises and the like too, making it an ideal family car for most, if not all occasions - highway cruises or the school run.
Safety and Technology
“…dash-mounted touchscreen features smart graphics and large, easy-to-hit icons. There are also touch-sensitive panels around the edges of the screen that you can press to shortcut between functions.” - What Car
When it was introduced in 2014, ANCAP awarded the C4 Grand Picasso a 5-star safety rating, taking an overall score of 34.53 out of a possible 37 points.
Dual front, side chest, side head, and curtain airbags are standard, as is blind spot monitoring and 360-degree parking camera. However, we do lament the inclusion of only halogen headlamps instead of xenons or LEDs, meanwhile features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and collision warning are optional extras.
There are two screens in the centre of the C4 Grand Picasso’s dash. A smaller 7-inch unit for the media and infotainment functions and above that a widescreen 12-inch panel that displays a digital instrument cluster. They work well enough but won’t inspire frequent voluntary interaction.
As far as MPVs go, this is quite a stand-out. It ticks all the right boxes for practicality and ease of driving while over-delivering on qualities such as comfort and visual flair. It pairs that with a compelling powertrain package that’s both powerful and fuel efficient.
A strong package that would be made untouchable were it not for some falterings in the handling department, but demanding exemplary dynamism at this corner of the market would be borderline unreasonable. In all, if a seven-seater MPV is what you’re looking for, there’s zero reason why the C4 Grand Picasso shouldn’t be at the top of your list of considerations.
Top Gear - 7/10 - “All-new C4 Picasso is comfier and more versatile than the SUV crossovers that are all the rage.”
What Car - 4/5 - “The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is seriously practical and great value for money – if you choose the right version.”
CarAdvice - 8.5/10 - “At times, the C4 makes no sense, and yet it makes perfect sense at the same time. It’s a great car, a real family car, and what is certainly one of the most underrated cars on sale in Australia today.”
Auto Express - 5/5 - “Bold-looking Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is still our favourite large MPV thanks to its blend of comfort, style, practicality and efficiency.”
CarsGuide - 3/5 - “The Grand C4 Picasso is an excellent family hauler with many strengths and few weaknesses. But I really can't recommend it ahead of a Carnival, which is massively impressive and backed by a Kia badge that is far more trustworthy than a Citroen sign.”
WheelsMag - 6.5/10 - “Citroen is back doing what it does best; hurling the rule book into the nearest dumpster. The Picasso is weird but also wonderful in many ways, and it’s a breath of fresh air to sit in a car made in 2016 that is so bright and open feeling.”