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First drive: Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6HDi SX – on sale now


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One in every 10 cars sold in the UK is an MPV. Citroën entered the growing compact MPV sector with the Xsara Picasso in June 2000.

Since then it has jostled with the Vauxhall Zafira for top spot, last year selling 29,321. It’s the market leader in retail with just under 12,500 private Xsara Picassos sold last year.

Dealers will offer the new seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso alongside the Xsara version for the foreseeable future, says Citroën. It expects combined sales to hit 30,000 this year, but won’t reveal model splits. In spring, Citroën will add a five-seat C4 Picasso to the MPV range.

The Grand C4 Picasso has a bolder, more muscular design than the Xsara and is larger in every aspect. With the two rear seats folded there is 576 litres of storage space, rising to an impressive 1,951 litres when the middle bench is also folded away.

There is ample room for seven adults and all seats are moveable by fingertip-light levers that fold flat into the floor.

However, these are all things a consumer would expect from a seven-seat MPV. What really makes the C4 Picasso stand out is its incredibly light interior.

The oversized windscreen, which stretches above the front-passengers’ heads, together with the large quarter lights, allow an abundance of light and also give a market-leading field of vision for the driver. The rear three-quarter visibility is also best in sector, a strong selling point for the safety conscious buyer.

Indeed, Citroën has produced an MPV that is as big on safety as it is on light. It scored 35 out of 37 points for adult occupant protection in the Euro NCAP crash test, and scored three stars for child protection and two for pedestrian safety.

Dealers should draw attention to the four Isofix seats, including all three in the second row.

While Citroën has been generous with its standard equipment in terms of safety and driver comfort, it is worth mentioning that the entry level LX model does not come with a stereo. Customers can opt for a £250 factory fit radio/CD player or dealers can sell their own options.

The car comes with a choice of four engines – two petrol and two diesel.

The 1.8-litre 130bhp petrol and 1.6-litre HDi diesel with 110bhp both come with a five-speed manual ’box as standard, while the 2.0-litre 145bhp petrol and 2.0 HDi 140 come only with Citroën’s EGS semi-automatic ’box.

Dealers should steer customers towards the cheaper manual options as the semi-automatic gearbox proved jerky, even on the paddleshift-operated manual override.

While there might be a bit of confusion about selling both Xsara and Grand C4 Picasso, the new model will be the main attraction.

Behind the wheel

The first thing you notice sitting in the driver’s seat of the Grand C4 Picasso is the feeling of space and light.

In the day this comes from the huge windscreen and quarter lights, while at night there are lamps located throughout the cabin.

The driving position is comfortable and though the 1.6-litre engine is small for a large seven-seater, 110bhp and 177lb of torque at 1,750 rpm make it a responsive and surprisingly nippy drive.

It’s more of a passenger’s car than a driver’s car. The steering is quite light and unresponsive, giving little feedback to the driver.

Like most Citroëns, the C4 Picasso has a relatively soft suspension, which results in comfy ride but bodyroll when cornering. Overall, however, the car feels sturdy and grips well.

Price: £17,995
Engine: 1.6HDi diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 12.7sec, top speed 112mph
Efficiency: 47.9mpg combined, 155 g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr 30k: £7,250 (41%) for SX
Rivals: Ford S-Max, Vauxhall Zafira, Renault Grand Scenic, VW Touran
Strength: Airy, modern design
Weakness: Automatic gearbox
Opportunity: Large families with older children
Threat: Ford S-Max, the car of the year
USP: Spacious interior that feels even bigger than it is

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