Dan DeGasperi’s 2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: This is a seven-seat MPV for the price of a five-seat SUV…this is a classy vehicle that does a good job of convincing you an SUV isn’t the only way to roll.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso

Price $38,490+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited km Safety 5-star NCAP Engine 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol Power 121kW at 6000rpm Torque 240Nm at 1400rpm Transmission six-speed automatic Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4602mm (L) 1826mm (W) 1638mm (H) 2840mm (WB) Seats seven Boot Space 165 litres/632L (7 seat/5 seat) Weight 1505kg Towing 600-800kg Fuel Tank 55 litres Thirst 6.4L/100km claimed combined

AUSTRALIANS love a good medium SUV – and several bad ones as well. Actually most of the $30,000 to $50,000 cohort of puffed-up five-seat Toyota RAV4 models are just mediocre given their inability to be truly roomy, very well equipped, or much of a pleasure to drive. The only exceptions are the dynamic standout Mazda CX-5 and roomy, classy Peugeot 3008.

With that in mind the task ahead for a similarly priced multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) becomes two-fold and also twice as tricky. Firstly, it must convince SUV buyers that it can be comparable at all, and then prove exactly why they shouldn’t merely move with the masses.

Throw a relatively unknown brand name into the mix, and the task becomes difficult to the power of three. But stay with us, because this is one people mover that seemingly loves to take on that challenge…

What is the Citroen C4 Picasso?

A seven-seat medium MPV for the price of a five-seat medium SUV. When the C4 Grand Picasso locally launched four years ago, it started at about $45,000 plus on-road costs (+ORC). Now, with a quick facelift, Citroen has brought the entry price to $38,490+ORC courtesy of the addition of this new 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. The existing 2.0-litre turbo-diesel remains, meanwhile, priced from $44,490+ORC.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review

For those prices a buyer gets 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, panoramic sunroof, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, electric tailgate, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors with automatic reverse-park assistance, auto on/off headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto up/down high-beam, lane departure warning with lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitor, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, digital radio, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity and dual-zone climate control with three rows of air vents each with their own fan speed.

In short, it’s more than any other medium SUV for the price. Choose a $5000 leather package and along with supple Nappa cow-hide you also pick up electrically adjustable, heated and massage front seats, the passenger seat even adding an extendable legrest. The single disappointment is that only the diesel gets active cruise control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – the latter especially should be standard in this family application.

What’s the Interior Like?

The interior is spectacularly brilliant, to be blunt up front. The windscreen extends back into the roof, with thin A-pillars providing a terrific view. The front seats are plush, while every piece of the dashboard is a soft-touch material with a delightful textured grain.

There’s soft mood lighting, while the high-set high-resolution screen with digital speedometer, trip computer and navigation instructions is complemented by a hugely improved 7.0-inch lower touchscreen that used to be slow, but is now fast and intuitive. Lower down the dash and storage pockets are lined in soft black velour, while such cubby spots and even the doorhandles provide soft white illumination.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review

The C4 Grand Picasso could stop right there, and simply be class-leading – relative to both MPV and SUV rivals. Except it doesn’t. The individually sliding and reclining trio of middle row seats are surrounded by mammoth legroom and headroom, big and wide doors with manually adjustable side blinds, and flip down tray tables with LED lights and an iPad attachment. This is better accommodation than any five-seat SUV for the price.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review

Meanwhile there’s a 630-litre luggage compartment behind, when even a CX-5 is sub-500L while a 3008 polls 591L, ahead of a Volkswagen Tiguan on 615L. Of course none of those rivals give buyers the opportunity to, with one hand, quickly flip-out another two seats and create a third row. Sure, there isn’t much legroom and headroom there for adults, but kids will be fine – with one caveat discussed in the safety section below. Nor can the SUV rivals provide air vents for all back passengers, each with their own fan speed.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review

What’s it like to drive?

If the cabin of this Citroen is comfortable and intelligent, then that same description thankfully applies on the road. The 1.6-litre turbo is no powerhouse, and in fact with a 10.2-second 0-100km/h performance claim it isn’t speedy at all. It is, however, smooth and refined in operation, always willing, and partnered with a six-speed automatic that keenly kicks back gears and then holds them to aid drivability (if not overall refinement).

Sometimes the auto needs a good shove from the driver on the throttle to get going, but once up and away it toils enthusiastically and feels light on its feet. Start loading in kids and luggage and the diesel will likely be a smarter bet, because our on-test 9.6 litres per 100 kilometres was well up on the 6.4L/100km claim. The diesel claims 4.5L/100km, and with 370Nm of torque (instead of 240Nm here) it is the more effortless performer too.

2018 Citroen C4 Grand Picasso Review

With a turbo attached, though, even this petrol can be driven sedately and serenely, given that peak torque is made at 1400rpm. This is no coarse, thrashy Honda Odyssey or Toyota Tarago. Unlike those vans, the Citroen also rides the bumps with soothing aplomb. It is pleasingly soft and supple in all situations, without becoming soggy and sloppy like some.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect is that the C4 Grand Picasso is also a delight to drive through corners. Road noise is low over country coarse-chip, the steering is superbly light and fluid, and the five-door seven-seater has an agility and fluency that belies its genre. It’s probably less of a surprise when the 1505kg kerb weight of this front-wheel drive MPV is noted – 50kg lighter than even the CX-5 as one of the lightest in its class. Downsides? Okay, so that Mazda is more of a driver’s car than the Citroen, which is always pleasant but displays no depth to its dynamics beyond being nippy and fun. But in this class that’s fine.

What about ownership?

A five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty will help quell concerns about French reliability, particularly given that Mazda offers three-year, unlimited-kay cover.

Servicing is competitive, too. Excellent annual or 20,000km check-ups include capped prices that ask $414/$775/$414 for the first trio, or a competitive $1604 to three years/60,000km.

What about safety features?

Dual front, side and curtain airbag coverage – but the big caveat is that curtains don’t extend to third-row passengers. Likewise, AEB is reserved for the diesel only, although the lane-keep assistance is nicely subtle in operation and the blind-spot monitor worked well. There’s also sensors and a camera all around for driveway safety.

So, what do we think?

The C4 Grand Picasso has a roomier, plusher, classier and smarter cabin than every medium SUV or medium MPV – it is as simple as that, a clean sweep of five stars out of five inside. The caveat is that it isn’t as roomy as a Kia Carnival, for example, but then it isn’t in the same class. It’s a medium van and not a large one, and those dimensions help when parking.

Think of it as a ‘sometimes seven seater’ and it’s virtually flawless unless you also want your family car to have superb dynamics – in which case, look up a Mazda CX-5. It’s not as though the Citroen is a dud to drive, however, and far from given how lovely the steering is, how comfortable the ride quality is and how fluent (if not focused) its handling is.

Add the bountiful standard equipment, plus a long five-year warranty, and a family buyer can’t go wrong. It’s exactly the SUV to have when you’re not having an SUV.


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1 comment

  1. I had a Xsara, and had no end of problems with it. Plus the dealer network was few and far between in those days. But I must say the Xsara was the most beautiful car to drive, and easily the most confortable. The French do make, or should I say design good cars.

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