2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ Blue HDi 150 review – Overhauled MPV Now Even Better

Best-looking MPV on market, roomy, comfy, & versatile cabin, 5-star NCAP, decent MPG

Two screens good & bad, too many steering wheel controls

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso?

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When 2007 arrived, you could chuck away your 5-seat Picasso and instead own the gigantic hold-all of the car world: the Grand C4 Picasso. Kids now 3+1? More mates treating you as their taxi driver? No problem. Yes, the Grand C4 Picasso landed as a 7-seater, and suddenly people – parents especially – discovered that Mary Poppins’ bag had morphed and existed in the real world, and was made by Citroen.

2013 saw a second generation version land, and this time there’s even more space inside, it’s lighter and it’s better on fuel. Oh, and it looks smarter too. We were sent the range-topping 2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ to see if it’d appeal on all levels, or if it’s still simply just a decent family MPV.

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

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Walking out the door and up to the second-gen Grand C4 tester, I did a double take. The big Citroen appears to have gained a level of cool! To a large degree it’s very futuristic – from the front at least. And before you start shouting at the screen because you’ve seen one and think they’re not all that, I’m also well aware that getting the right colour and wheel combo on the Grand C4 Picasso can make a huge difference.

For instance, the lowest-spec VTR version has sixteen-inch wheels and those plus the Arctic Steel (silver) colour take much away from the Grand Picasso’s looks. Move up to either the Exclusive or Exclusive+ models and you’ve then got 17 and 18 inch alloys with decent styling, and which make a huge difference to the appearance overall.

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Our Exclusive+ tester came in Onyx black, 18-inch alloys and limo-black rear windows, and I must admit it looked the business – a properly smart thing. Let’s start at the front. This second-generation version is much less pointy than its predecessor, and is all the better for it. Instead, its nose is much stubbier, and the styling is aggressive and masculine. It’s a large, wide area perhaps made more prominent by the biggest Citroen ‘badge’ ever, which stretches the full width of the front and wraps around the blade-thin upper LED running lights.

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Below the ‘daytime’ lights sit larger light clusters, which do look slightly weird as the right and left are so far apart from each other on that wide-boy front. Other than that it’s a fairly simplistic front. A feature I do love is the satin-finished trim piece that starts at the A pillars, runs along the roof edges and then sweeps down and back in on itself at the C pillars. A nice touch which gives the car a classy edge.

Down the side the thing that caught my eye was the sheer amount of glass. From a front three-quarter view you’ve got the enormous front windscreen – which, I jest not, is the sort of sized window you’d expect to see in the living room of a house – then in the A pillar there’s the largest piece of quarter panel glass I’ve seen on any car, and after that more massive windows in the doors and boot area.

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These, plus the gargantuan panoramic glass roof and boot window mean the Grand C4 Picasso gives its passengers the sensation of being in a goldfish bowl. I joke, but one thing I do recommend is getting the rear windows heavily tinted to avoid the exterior looking like it is one. At the rear there are a pairs of ‘3D’ rear lights each side (which were in the Citroen DS3 before this), which look utterly awesome at night.

All said, the 2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a smart-looking MPV and – unusually for once of these types of cars – I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen driving it, and that’s gotta be a good thing.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

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Open any door of the Grand C4 Picasso and you’re immediately stuck at just how spacious and airy the cabin is. Citroen say they’re going for the uncluttered look, and that’s exactly how it is. The amount of light coming in through the many large windows is incredible, and it all makes for a pleasant passenger experience. A neat thing was that the front sun visors both slide backwards to reveal even more of the front ‘screen, making it a very panoramic experience, and a brilliant feature should you be driving through particularly beautiful scenery.

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The dash layout is virtually unlike any other car, as instead of controls (there are only a couple on the dash) there are two large screens, one above the other. The lower one is a 7-inch touchscreen for controlling just about every adjustable element of the car. It features excellent graphics, is decently ergonomic and includes controls for the heating, vehicle and audio settings, satellite navigation, Citroen ‘Multicity Connect’ app which includes a 3G connection to gain access to TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, traffic and weather news, social media sites, emails etc.

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The upper screen is a massive 12-inch high definition system, and in digital shows all the dials and other information the driver needs to see, including the sat nav, reversing cameras, fuel economy info and other data. Viewing the sat nav in the upper HD screen is helpful, as it’s at eye level and the map very large, but also a little strange as it appears in both the screens at the same time, even if you just want it in the upper one.

The large screen has good and bad elements: it’s good for the fact it looks very cool and contemporary, has excellent graphics and almost shouldn’t be on a car this (relatively) cheap. It’s also bad because it can be very distracting to the driver. There are so many menus and options to mess about with – which can be controlled from the steering wheel – that you can easily find attention draw to it rather than the road ahead. While it’s okay saying you wouldn’t do that etc etc etc, it’s fairly hard not to end up playing with settings and screen views.

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The Exclusive+ version we had came with a brilliant 360˚ camera system for parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces, giving you the choice of forward, rear or a birds-eye-view, which boggles the mind of many who look at it for the first time. It’s an exceptionally neat thing though, and I believe more cars should have it as it makes parking so much safer and easier. Something I did not like were the sheer amount of controls on the steering wheel, which I counted as 14 including four scroller wheels for menu-sifting. That’s a ridiculous amount, and again can be a distraction if you aren’t fully familiar with them.

The Exclusive+ comes with half-leather seating, and they’re pretty funky in both design and have slightly strange headrest which poke out at the sides. I couldn’t decide whether this was simply for looks or if they actually played a part should you crash, to stop your head whipping about from side to side. I found people either liked or disliked the offbeat design of the seats and trim, but the majority gave it the thumbs up for being cool. Our tester had the £2,000 optional Full Nappa Leather seating, and while it looked and felt nice, that’s a heck of a large chunk o’ money to fork out simply for nice leather seats in a sub £30,000 car.

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That aside, the seats in the front are armchair-sized and as comfortable as the aforementioned, and on this model they’re heated and have a massage function (which is more of a gentle poke in the back then an actual massage) and the passenger side has an electrically-adjustable footrest for further comfort. Oh, and there are adjustable armrests too. The centre row of seat are individual, supportive, slide forwards and backwards, fold down flat individually and also tilt. The third row of seats hidden under the boot floor fold out in a fluid movement with just one pull of a cord, and while they’re not really suited to adults on long journeys, they’d be fine for shorter ones. A brilliant touch is that there’s air conditioning piped to both the middle and third row of seats, and the air flow can be adjusted there, which make the third row seats so much more bearable.

The Grand C4 Picasso entirely about practicality, and the main reason people buy them. This second-gen version doesn’t disappoint: there are masses of large storage areas dotted around the car, including a ventilated glovebox for keeping snacks and drinks cool. There are 12-volt sockets in the front, middle and boot area, fold-down trays with lighting for the middle row, plus retractable sunblinds in the windows too. There’s also a rechargeable torch in the boot, but it feels very cheap and weirdly uses a normal bulb instead of LEDs which means its less bright and uses way more power.

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The boot area is absolutely gigantic, with 793 litres behind the middle row of seats, 2,181 with them folded flat, and there’s even 165 with the third row in place. For safety, the Citroen includes airbags in the front, front sides and curtain airbags for the front and centre rows. No airbags for the third row passengers though, which I thought was a little strange considering it’s quite a vulnerable area in a crash.

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If you’re looking at buying the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso for it’s practicality, then you really can’t go wrong. Citroen’s have come on leaps and bound in terms on build quality in the last few years, and I found the cabin had good quality materials too. I’m highly impressed with the interior, especially when you consider it’s very competitively priced.

Engine & gearbox

The Grand C4 Picasso now comes with a whole range of engines to suit: two petrol, three diesel. Our tester had the most powerful offering – the BlueHDi 150 automatic. This is a 2.0 litre, inline 4-cylinder diesel with a high-pressure turbocharger mated, in this case, to a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. The BlueHDi puts out 150 bhp at 4,000 rpm, 273 lb ft (370 Nm) of torque from 2,000 rpm, does 0 – 62 mph in 10.2 seconds and will reach 128 mph at the top end.

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Official UK mpg stats are: urban: 52.3, extra urban: 67.3, combined: 61.4. Real-life driving saw a motorway run return just over 53 mpg, and an average of 40 mpg overall. CO2 emissions read as 120 g/km, equivalent to just £30.00 tax per year currently (Aug. ’14).

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

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Firing the BlueHDi 150 engine into life, I was slightly baffled for a minute as I tried to locate to auto gearshifter. Lever in the centre console? Nope. Perhaps a dial like the Jag/Land Rovers use? No. Buttons, perhaps? Again, nothing. Then I noticed the selector stick behind the steering wheel. It’s a slightly strange thing to get used to, and I wasn’t exactly bowled over by the quality of it – a thin, flimsy stick that feels like it’d break a little too easily.

Pulling it into Drive, the seatbelt starts to tighten onto me as I set off. Bit of a strange feeling the first time it happened, but it’s simply part of the Active seatbelt safety system on the Exclusive+ model, and it’s getting a measure of your size in case it needs to tighten them should a collision occur. Actually, these work really well. At one point a car slammed on its brakes unexpectedly and I had to do the same quickly to avoid crashing into them. The moment I jammed on the brakes the belt pulled tight, hugging me into the seat in case I actually crashed. I imagine this’d save a fair amount of pain over a normal belt.

On with the drive: I’m not expecting a whole lot from the Grand C4 Picasso aside from wallowy, top-heavy handling and an unhurried drive. However, It’s much better than presumed and the Citroen accelerates decently enough for the type of car it is, and there’s plenty of evenly-spread torque throughout the rev range. It’s an easy and relaxed drive in the city, with the suspension soaking up the badly-maintained roads well (although oddly the suspension did bang noisily somewhat over the occasional heftier bump), whilst a good turning circle ensures decent manoeuvrability through traffic and into parking spaces.

The 6-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly enough, if somewhat sluggishly for a modern car, whilst the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel feel like they are placed too far inboard to reach comfortably. Another one of our test drivers mentioned he’d driven the Grand C4 Picasso with the ETG6 auto gearbox (available on the eHDi 90 and 115), and said it lurched into gear jerkily and sloppily and this one seems to be the much better ‘box of the two.

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On that point, the our tester had the option Park Assist pack (£450) which meant it would both parallel park and bay park too. Oh, and it also exited the spaces as well, ensuring no caught bumpers. The system works excellently, and it picks up on empty spaces quickly and parked itself almost perfectly in spaces I thought it’d never get into. It’s absolutely worth the extra money!

Back on the road, and a motorway stint shows the Citroen to be a decent cruiser, but I did notice there was a level of road noise coming into the cabin high enough to be noticeable as I talked to passengers in the back of the car. I’m suspecting it’s down to the low-profile tyres on the 18″ alloys, but either way it’s more than I’d have liked. Apparently it’s quieter than the last version due to a new 100 kilogram-saving ‘EMP2’ platform, and perhaps the 16″ wheel option may quieten it slightly more.

Our test car came with active cruise control, which means you simply set the speed you want, and the car keeps a set distance to the one in front, slowing if necessary. I found the system to be a too sensitive however, braking way too early and not reacting quick enough once the car in front moved over out of the way. I maintain the Volvo system is still probably the best on a car.

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Onto a winding country route, and the Grand C4 Picasso handles much more positively than I’d have guessed at. While it’s obviously going to roll more than, say, a family saloon car, it still went round corners respectably well at speed considering its size. Something that did irk after a while was the drivers active seatbelt. While I mentioned easier that they’re a good safety measure, with the Lane Departure Warning option on it quickly judders the belt annoyingly if you stray over the lines without indicating. It’s almost like an irritating backseat driver pulling it each time they think you’ve made a mistake. Nannying, is the word.

Other safety equipment (as standard) is ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), ECS (Stability control) and hill start assist.

Price

(figures correct Aug.’14) The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso starts at a shade over £19,200 and tops out at £27,855. Our tester came with a load of options (including that hefty £2k Nappa leather), pushing the price to almost £31,800. Still, I thought it a reasonable price considering that the amount of car you get, and that its looks and feels good quality with good cabin materials and is laden with mucho modern tech and gadgets, plus actual interesting interior styling over the usual bland grey/black offerings.

What’s the 7-seater competition priced like though? Kia Carens: £18,000 – £25,000, Mazda5: £20.5k – £21.8k, Seat Altea XL: around £20k, Renault Grand Scenic: £20.5k – £24.6k, Peugeot 5008: £19k – £24.4k, VW Sharan: £25k – £34.5k, Toyota Verso: £16k – £23.8k.

2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ Blue HDi 150 verdict & score

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I’ll start with the negatives: Those two large screens I mentioned are both useful and a distraction for the driver at the same time, as there are so many menus and options to choose from. On a similar note, having a ridiculous 14 controls on the steering wheel has the same effect, and it’s irritating trying to remember what does what when you’re driving with a car full of noisy passengers and it’s nasty weather outside. In making the cabin uncluttered and free of dash buttons, Citroen have also created the problems above. Finally, while I mention further down that it’s a safe car, why aren’t there any airbags for the third row seating, which are usually taken up by kids? That needs addressing, surely?

Positives: There are plenty of good points about the 2014 Grand C4 Picasso, not least of all that it looks so much better than its predecessor, and it’s now at the stage where finally you can be free of wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses when driving an MPV for fear of mates seeing you. Actually, it’s one of the best-looking MPVs on the market, especially if you get the paint and alloy combination right.

Inside, Citroen have made the cabin comfortable, bright, airy, extremely roomy and versatile, as well as adding funky styling. Slightly quirky that may be, but better than the usual sea of bland greys and black trim. It’s also very contemporary, with the two large screens and their slick graphics. It’s drives fairly well, and fuel economy is good considering the size of this thing. Safety is high on the Grand C4, and it achieves a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

Do you own a 2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  7.5
Engine (HDi 150)  6.5
Gearbox  6.5
Price  7.5
Handling  6.5
Drive & Ride  7.5
Overall Score  7.0 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested) 2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ Blue HDi 150 auto
Spec includes  18″ alloy wheels, panoramic roof, leather seating, ABS, EBD, EBA, ESC, hill start assist, front, front side and curtain airbags, active cruise control, climate control, 7″ touch screen & 12″ HD display, Bluetooth, USB & Aux, See website for more info
Options you should spec  Park Assist pack (£450)
The Competition  Kia Carens, Mazda5, Seat Altea XL, Renault Grand Scenic, Peugeot 5008, VW Sharan, Toyota Verso
Price  (Aug. 2014) £19,200 – £27,855
Engine  Diesel, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder in-line, turbocharged
Power, Torque  Power: 150bhp @ 4,000 rpm | Torque: 273 lb ft (370 Nm) @ 2,000 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 6-speed automatic
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed (limited): 128 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 10.2 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5-stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 52.3, Extra urban: 67.3, Combined: 61.4 | CO2: 120 g/km CO2
Weight (kerb)  1,476 (3,254 lbs)
Websites  Citroen UK, Citroen France, Citroen global

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

2 responses to “2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Exclusive+ Blue HDi 150 review – Overhauled MPV Now Even Better”

  1. Pim

    The steering wheel with the 14 buttons is exactly the same as on the regular C4 model. I get used to it very quickly is very convenient to use.

  2. Siim

    Digging some old stuff here but does anyone happen to know if the driver’s seat has memory slots for seat positions? I get it that they are electronically adjustable but do they have memory too? Even my local dealer isn’t really sure as they haven’t sold it with such equipment.

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