Dressing up a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) doesn’t always work, but the Citroen Grand Picasso shores the facade up with great capability to make it a sensible choice
Another MPV? Booooring!
It’s a huge challenge to make MPVs desirable. Citroen’s always had a good example with its unique Picasso MPV (and seven-seat Grand Picasso), which was imbued with lots of style, although it wasn’t up at the front in terms of quality and drivability. But the second-gen model, driven here, takes that a classy step further while upping the ante in all other areas too.
Well okay, it looks...unique...
The car seems to elicit equal amounts of fascination and horror from people, but those who evince the latter have also declared their intention for childless-ness. Whatever your conclusion, you certainly can’t say it looks like any other MPV, Japanese or German.
Based on Peugeot-Citroen’s EMP2 platform,, the car’s no longer than it used to be (4,590mm) but has a stretched wheelbase compared to before, and is also 11cm longer between the wheels as compared to the current five-seat ‘non-Grand’ model.
What’s it like on the inside?
The French like their cars the same way they like their bread, apparently. Not full of butter, but very airy and light on the inside. The Grand Picasso doesn’t just boast a full-length panoramic sunroof, like other Citroen models it has the slide-back sun visors that reveal the full, almost fighter-jet-like canopy that is the front windscreen.
We’re sure you could pipe engine noise in through the stereo and convince the kids they were flying through the air, a sensation reinforced by the high-seating position and the layout of the cabin. The upside for the driver is that the Grand Picasso is endowed with supreme visibility, so it’s very easy to pilot.
There’s even a little ‘glass cockpit’ thing going on: An upper 12-inch LCD display with slick and crisp graphics, although it lags a little compared to TFT ones found in other cars, like the Volvo V40. It’s divided up into three segments which are customisable, so you can show the revs and speed, navigation info, driving info, and it also comes with three themes for you to choose from.
Centralised control is provided by the lower, seven-inch touch-screen system with ‘clickless’ buttons surrounding it, very much like a modern tablet computer, and shrouded in black, is also quite a fingerprint magnet. There are a considerable number of functions, including navigation and infotainment from various sources, which is impressive.
That’s all very good, but does it hold people well?
Its ‘artyness’ doesn’t get in the way of practicality. The rear is just as spacious, with the second row featuring noticeably more legroom plus adjustable seats, window blinds and blower controls. The third row is still cattle class, so smaller individuals will fit, but at least they get a power socket and air-con blowers too.
Should you carry less humans and more cargo, the Picasso can roll with that too - with all seats out, it carries 576-litres of stuff, which expands to 1,961-litres with all the seats folded flat. As before, a series of levers and pull-tabs aid you on your seat-wrangling quest which is usually accomplished without too much cursing and sweating, but unlike the old model, this one has a convenient electric tailgate.
Being French, it must drive like a croissant too, right?
If you mean it looks crispy on the outside with naught but air inside, no. The new platform is accompanied by a loss of weight (up to 100kg, depending on variant), so the Grand Picasso has much less to deal with, even without seven people on-board. It rides decently and is quiet at speed, while the turbodiesel engine provides enough pleasing grunt.
If you mean it goes well with a jam involved, yes and no. The diesel torque provides good low-speed pickup, while light steering and good vision means it’s easy to handle in town.
The gearbox is still an automated manual, but it’s easy to get used to, even if it does lurch threateningly once in awhile. But that’s also key to one of the car’s strong points: It is undyingly frugal.
Driving without a responsible mind we still nabbed 6.5L/100km over a 200km journey, which is some way from the official 4.0L/100km figure, but still very good overall. Because of its start-stop system and the semi-auto gearbox, it nabs a $15k CEVS rebate too, so not only is it more affordable up front, it’ll likely be cheap to run as well.
Truth be told, if you’re in the market for a car like this, you only have two other options anyway: the Renault Grand Scenic Diesel and the Volkswagen Touran TDI. The three are very closely matched in efficiency and utility, but the Picasso stands out for the fact that its flair doesn't interfere with its function.
Citroen C4 Grand Picasso e-HDI 115
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,560cc, 16V, in-line 4
Power 115bhp at 3600rpm
Torque 270Nm at 1750rpm
Gearbox 6-speed robotised manual
Top Speed 189km/h
0-100km/h 12.6 seconds
Fuel efficiency 4.0L/100km
Price $162,988 with COE
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