Whenever I drive a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso with its long snout and windscreen so far ahead I always feel I am piloting a £€˜bullet train;£€™ not that I ever have driven a Japanese shinkansen.
For a multi-purpose vehicle the Picasso is great looking and despite its size much easier to position on the road than you might expect. Its original good looks stem from brilliant Italian designer Donato Coco, who also designed the Ferrari 458, and a replacement for the Lotus Esprit until Lotus£€™s Malaysian owners abandoned the plan and sold the Norfolk company.
As the name implies, the Grand Picasso is longer than the C4 Picasso with seven seats instead of five, a panoramic roof£ is standard and front quarter light windows mean visibility is good. Brightening up latest versions is a new front end, 3D-effect rear lights and new alloy wheels.
The cabin is light and airy and being high up your passengers have a good view over the surrounding countryside if they ever look up from their phones and tablets. I£€™ve been driving the Pure Tech 130 petrol Touch Edition but you can also choose from three diesels.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a long, baggy change action but it£€™s light and didn£€™t wrong slot. Automatic transmission is also available. Considering the engine is only three-cylinders and 1199cc the Grand Picasso, at least lightly laden; the only circumstances available during this brief re-appraisal, never struggled to keep up with traffic.
The turbocharged engine was pleasantly quiet and refined. With independent front and rear suspension and coil springs the G Picasso tackles our bumpy roads well once above town speeds when it pitter-patters on broken surfaces.
You can choose from Touch, Feel or the top Flair trim levels. Standard equipment includes driver£€™s seat height adjustment, air conditioning, cruise control, hill-start assist, tyre pressure monitoring and a seven inch touch screen for information and to run things like the six-speaker audio system.
The test car cost £21,935 but options including alloy wheels (£225), metallic paint (£520), keyless entry and engine start (£300) and kids£€™ pack (£150), pushed the price up to £23,130 on the road.
Once you chill out and ease back from trying to make the car £€˜fly£€™ the big Citroen delivers a relaxing driving experience. Reflecting the lack of sporty pretension the insurance is down in group 14 territory.
Intelligent traction control improves grip on slippery surfaces and automatic stop start saves fuel in stop go traffic. Most of the car£€™s functions such as radio, climate control and satellite navigation, if fitted, are controlled via two touch screens.
There are faster responding screens and I think it dangerously distracting to have to dive into different menus just to change the heating. Citroen are not alone in this and I£€™m amazed it got into production.
With all seven seats in use, the Grand C4 Picasso has a small-ish boot of 165 litres volume below the load cover. But row three has two seats that fold into the boot floor and sliding the middle row forwards creates 793 litres of luggage volume.
Fold down the middle seats as well and there£€™s a flat van-like load deck and 2,180 litres to play with. For really long loads you can fold down the back of the front passenger seat if it isn£€™t needed.
Some of the seat levers and catches didn£€™t feel strong enough and needed too much effort to move. And the electric parking brake was typically fiddly, so there are a few things for Citroen£€™s Coventry-born CEO Linda Jackson to sort out.
Also consider: Seat Alhambra, Renault Grand Scenic, Toyota Verso, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer.
Verdict If you are looking for a stylish MPV this is where to start