From £19,9658
The Citroën Grand C4 Picasso gets tweaked styling, improved tech and new personalisation options to keep it ahead of rivals

Our Verdict

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
The car shares some of its styling features with Citroën's premium DS models

Citroën aims to add pizzazz to practical family travel. Does it succeed?

Neil Winn - Autocar
26 August 2016

What is it?

Since its release back in 2013, the second-generation Grand C4 Picasso has been a dominant force in the MPV market, with its unique blend of Parisian style and class-leading practicality securing it a place at the top of the sales chart.

However, the MPV segment has been undergoing something of a crisis lately, with buyers becoming increasingly image conscious. Gone are the days where affordability and practicality were the main considerations when buying a family car; luxury and refinement now take priority. Thus sales of SUVs and premium people carriers have significantly increased, while overall sales in the MPV class have fallen.

So in order to keep the Grand Picasso relevant in this new market landscape, Citroën has treated its best seller to a comprehensive mid-life facelift. Three trim levels are now available: Touch, Feel, and Flair Edition. Feel models get 17in diamond-finish alloy wheels as standard and Flair models gain integrated roof bars and aluminium trim. All models also have a new front-end design and '3D-effect' rear lights.

However, the biggest change for 2016 is the addition of a new Citroën Connect Nav system. This offers 3D maps, touch operation and real-time updates, as well as voice recognition for sat-nav, telephone and media functions. Oh, and the system also gives you the ability to access and send texts and emails from the car - not that we recommend doing it while driving. 

What's it like?

Mechanically, the 2016 Grand Picasso is virtually identical to the model it replaces, but that is no bad thing. We’ve always been fond of the big Citroën's dynamics traits, and on our demanding B-road test route the revised model once again proved itself to be an accomplished package.

Despite having a rather supple ride, the Picasso demonstrated impressive high-speed stability, body control and all-corner grip. With the car's direct – albeit uncommunicative – steering and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, we often found ourselves forgetting that we were in such a large vehicle. Granted, it’s certainly not as engaging as a Ford S-Max, but it’s an impressively capable MPV nonetheless.

At lower speeds, things are a little less compliant. Over small imperfections, the usually supple Citroën often felt unsettled, and the 2.0-litre diesel engine fitted to our test car sounded disapprovingly gruff at low revs. Thankfully, once speeds increased the engine’s tone settled to a distant thrum, but wind noise around the A-pillars and wing mirrors was somewhat annoying on longer journeys.

Aside from a new automatic option on the 1.2-litre Petrol PureTech, the range of engines also remains the same for 2016. As with the previous model, we suspect that the mid-range 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel will be the most popular with buyers thanks to its impressive frugality and low running costs. But for just £1200 extra it’s tempting to tick the box for the 148bhp 2.0-litre unit tested here.

However, we’re not convinced that the 2.0-litre engine is worth the premium. In day-to-day use, the diesel is smooth and responsive for a motor of its type, but once pushed harder it starts to show some shortcomings. When pulling from low revs it takes time to get into the meat of the rev range, and once it finally manages to produce peak torque, it’s all gone within what feels like the blink of an eye.  

Inside, the Picasso is relatively unchanged from last year’s model. It still gives the impression of being the most spacious car in the class thanks to its extended windscreen and low-set dash, and the 12.3in central screen is a real treat for drivers. There are also plenty of storage spaces dotted around the cabin, and soft-touch materials give a real sense of quality.

The 7.0in touchscreen has been revised to incorporate a new Connect Nav system, Mirrorlink smartphone software and Apple CarPlay. It’s certainly an improvement over the last unit, and the ability to pinch and swipe makes navigating the screen feel more intuitive. However, the touch-sensitive buttons around the edges of the screen are still ambiguously labelled, so you have to study them to make sure you’re pressing the right one, and once pressed, the system is slow and often unresponsive.

Ergonomically, though, the Picasso is still the brilliantly versatile machine that families have come to love. The middle row seats slide back and forth independently of one another, giving great access to the rear, and the third row can also be folded flat to provide a sizeable boot. Front and rear head room remains impressive despite the vast panoramic sunroof, and the stowage areas on the centre console are ideal for keeping valuables out of sight.

Should I buy one?

The improvements to the infotainment system and the addition of driver assist systems such as traffic sign recognition, lane departure assist and driver condition monitoring have certainly helped to bring the Picasso up to speed with the competition. However, it’s still not quite as involving to drive as the Ford S-Max and it ultimately lacks the overall quality of the class-leading Volkswagen Sharan.

That said, the Citroën still ticks almost every box for the majority of buyers. It’s hard not to be impressed by its spaciousness, versatility and low running costs, and its edgy aesthetics still look great. It might not be a class leader, but it’s a worthy contender. 

2016 Citroën Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 150 S&S Flair 

Location Surrey; On sale now; Price £28,010; Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, diesel; Power 148bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1705kg; 0-62mph 9.8 secs; Top speed 130mph; Economy 65.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 111g/km, 22%

Join the debate

Comments
9

26 August 2016
"However, it’s still not quite as involving to drive as the Ford S-Max and it ultimately lacks the overall quality of the class-leading Volkswagen Sharan." Probably true - i think they have very different appeals though: the S-Max is ok for a very occasional B-road thrash, and the Sharan might impress the badge-snobs, but they're far more conventional from the interior-design perspective. I can imagine Sharan buyers thinking the Picasso interior was gimmicky, and the Citroen buyers thinking the VW interior was deathly dull.

26 August 2016
Four stars for the Picasso then...yet not as good as the class leading Sharan that you have given 3.5 stars

Sigh

26 August 2016
Wondering if we should compare this C4 with Sharan or Touran

26 August 2016
Easily the best looking MPV on the market. People do look for style and it hardly gets a mention. The VW looks like a van in comparison and the interior is so DULL. This looks great inside ad out.

26 August 2016
The article criticises the switches around the touch screen, and the slow and unresponsive system, but then says ergonomically the Picasso is excellent in terms of seat versatility. Surely the most important thing for vehicle ergonomics is the ease and safety with which the driver can interact with the controls, not how useful the seating arrangements are?

27 August 2016
I dont why the motoring press raves over this as a 7 seater. My 5'8" teenager couldn't get comfy in the back and found it v claustrophobic. The sharan and Alhambra are much better in this respect. The Grand Picasso is really on par with the Touran space wise and is just not up to the job for a family with 4 plus children.

27 August 2016
When in the back, I mean the 3rd row.

6 September 2016
Not the ugliest van around but still fussier than the VW. Ultimately though a good estate will be always be better than any van. To get three rows of seats and still be able to carry some luggage one would have to go up to a proper minibus like a VW T6 or similar.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

10 October 2016
Having just taken delivery of this model in it Flair design, I am full of nothing but praise of it. Having had a previous Grand Picasso, it is so good to get back to seeing my surroundings with the huge panoramic windscreen. So much light and more importantly, so much vision. Citroen has always been the butt of the motoring industry. It's high time they were recognised for their intuitive and mostly unique design features. Simple things like a 10 deg drop in your side mirrors when you slip in to reverse, same with a quick rear wipe when engaging reverse too. Headlights that appear to bend when going around a corner to light up the dark side - not unique I know, but a feature on this version and very worthwhile. Other simple things that bring joy.. you may laugh.... windows that automatically close when you lock up!. Auto folding mirrors. Even seats that gentle massage your back on these long tiresome journeys. Add to this huge comfort,space, practicality, a severe thurst and low road tax (all about to change for all - I know) and you have one hell of a good vehicle. Sadly, it's not fully compatible with my Samsung S4 mobile so looks like I'm going to have to update that too. Can't win them all..... :-)
Als

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