Citroen Grand C4

Picasso Flair

BlueHDi 120

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, 2016, front
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, side
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, front
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, rear
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, side
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, rear
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, 2016, boot
Citroen C4 Picasso, 2016, interior
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, front
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, front

ANYONE remember the people carrier?

Cast your mind back a few years and they really were all the rage.

If you had a large Walton-style family, or even if you regularly needed to transport up to seven people around regularly, they were the de facto car of choice.

Once upon a time Chrysler Grand Voyagers, Ford Galaxys and Volkswagen Sharans seemed to be everywhere.

So, what happened to them?

Firstly they became MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) - in the same way that off-roaders became SUVs (sports utility vehicles) - the automotive industry really does love its snappy acronyms.

Although not entirely extinct - there are still some old-style MPVs about - essentially they fell out of favour, probably for a number of reasons.

Firstly, while they were immensely practical their driving dynamics generally left an awful lot to be desired.

In addition manufacturers started to downsize rather than upsize them and more compact MPVs like the Vauxhall Zafira and Volkswagen Touran started to become increasingly popular.

And, perhaps the biggest influence of all - in the great battle of the acronyms the SUV emerged triumphant.

Not all, but most SUVs now offer the ability to transport seven people via a flip-up third row of seats and given the insatiable appetite for SUV styling these days many buyers tend to prefer an SUV over an MPV.

The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a fine example of the more modern crop of MPVs that are more like an enlarged car than a scaled-down minibus.

It's also one of the best. I've driven this model a few times now, in a number of different guises and have to say I never tire of it.

Essentially the Grand C4 Picasso is a hugely consummate all-rounder - as a family car it really takes some beating.

It is very much an up-scaled car, being a stretched version of a standard C4 Picasso, but unlike some compact seven-seaters where everything seems to be a little bit squeezed in it feels well proportioned. Therein probably lies the secret of its success.

It helps that it looks good too. MPVs have always tended to look dull and clunky but this one has just enough Gallic style to give it some visual appeal.

On the inside it also has a nice feel, with a cabin that's distinctly open and airy.

Its asymmetric dashboard layout is easy to like and the instrumentation easy to use.

The seating is comfortable - and flexible - and scores highly for ingenuity.

A sliding middle row means people in either the middle or the rearmost row can adjust the amount of legroom they have.

Every time I get behind the wheel of one I'm also impressed at its ingenious storage solutions, particularly with all seven seats in use.

A good example are the storage areas under the two rearmost where it's surprising just how much you can fit in.

Not this time but on a previous occasion I actually used one to take seven people to France for a ten-day break and managed not only to get everyone in but their luggage too - even if they did have Ryanair-esque allowances.

Practicality aside the Grand C4 Picasso is also a half-decent driver's car.

Obviously it's not the sort of vehicle you're going to head out to the country in on a Sunday afternoon and chuck around corners at speed for fun but as an everyday car it's easy to live with and enjoy driving.

Citroen's lightweight EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform) architecture helps immensely in delivering impressive ride quality too.

Engine-wise there are plenty of choices with the efficient and refined diesels being the pick of the bunch.

There are more powerful engines available but this 118bhp diesel unit delivers a great blend of performance and economy.

FAST FACTS

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Flair BlueHDi 120

Price: £26,810

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 11.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 74.3

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 106g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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