Citroen Grand C4 Picasso - Swiss Army Wagon

  • We put the Grand C4 Picasso through a series of tough challenges 
  • Has to transform from family holiday wagon to removal van
  • Flexible seating system is a multi-purpose masterpiece

A word you often hear associated with big family cruisers like the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is “flexible”.

It’s a curiously vague marketing term that doesn’t refer to the bendiness of the interior plastics, but a car’s ability to fulfil the huge number of roles you unknowingly take on as a parent.

Key to our current Citroen long termer’s flexibility is its clever seating system. With all the pews up there is space for seven, with them all down there is 2,181 litres of loadspace.

It can be a limo, a minibus, or a removal van, and when I borrowed Keith’s long-termer for a week’s holiday in Devon with four adults and two children, it had to be all three.

Never fear, the Grand Pic is here

Job one – limo

My first impressions were good. The Grand C4 Picasso is a fine looking thing, especially in Teles Blue with our 17-inch wheels. It’s not a dumpy practical bus of old, more a futuristic family spaceship.

Loading up the 790-litre boot for the trip down was very easy, it’s big enough to pack things in the order in which we would need them, rather than being restricted to a Tetris-style shape challenge where the buggy ends up on the bottom.

I had to lock the car between trips, and thankfully the keyless entry system meant I didn’t have to fumble around for keys while carrying heavy suitcases. It unlocks when you put your hand in the door handle and is locked by holding your hand on the outside.

Keyless entry is useful when carrying things

Inside the Grand Pic has a seriously well thought out cabin. It’s stylish and modern, with a neutral and light dashboard finished in what looks like a massive buff envelope.

There is a cavernous box between the front seats thanks to the relocation of the gearshift and handbrake - although the button for this is perilously close to the similarly shaped release handle for the front cubby.

The driver’s seat is comfortable but feels quite high up and the blinds for the panoramic windscreen further eat into your headspace, while the curved headrest has corners that poke you in the neck unless it is fully extended.

Split level lights are futuristic looking

Rear passengers have their own air vents and the seats slide and recline individually. There are easy to locate ISOFIX mounting points on all three middle seats so ours could go on the middle chair in order to afford my wife the sort of legroom she used to have before baby arrived.

Getting a child to sleep in the daytime can be hard work in a light and airy cabin so we closed the electric panoramic roof cover, and pulled up the useful built-in window blinds (we’ve lost about a hundred of the suction cup ones). These are manual though, and it would be nice to be able to raise and lower them electrically from the driver’s seat.

The engine is blissfully discreet when driving on the motorway, so we could talk without resorting to a potentially baby-waking volume. Remarkably the Citroen’s suspension can serenely iron out lumps, yet control the speed and angle of body roll in a corner too.

Job two - minibus

On arrival and with an empty boot, we set about configuring the Grand C4 Picasso for its next role – bussing four adults and two children around various days out. I’ve had a bit of practice with the seats, including my woeful performance in Keith’s time trial, so it was a quick process.

We put the two child seats in the middle row, leaving the front passenger seat, left middle row and rearmost left seat for the adults. The back chairs are not huge but provide enough space for kids or a grown-up on a short journey.

Even with six seats up there is still a good sized boot

The right hand side of the boot had space for two pushchairs, plus all the bags, bits and bobs that our junior passengers needed. Popping up the back seat also opened up a small recess where we could store our buggy wheels and stop them rattling around.

There's always another cubby hole to use

Even loaded up with people and tackling Devon’s steep hills, the torquey 2-litre diesel engine pulls strongly, while the six-speed automatic gearbox shuffles cogs with the sort of smoothness you’d expect from a croupier in a Bond film.

The split centre screens mean everyone can see how far is left on the sat-nav, but if you want the map displayed on the top screen, you have to have it on the bottom one too. It would be better if you could have the sat-nav nestled between the dials and a separate display below showing what music was playing, or the air conditioning controls.

Rear passenger also doubles up as impromptu photographer

After a few trips, including one to the beach and another to the zoo, I’d got into the swing of driving the Grand C4 Picasso while loaded in order to reduce seasickness (read 'slower') and worked out the most efficient way to pack the half-boot.

Job three – removal van

We decided to stop off at our friends’ house for a day or two on the way back as they were in the midst of moving and needed a big boot.

With all the seats collapsed and the transitional panels in place to create a flat floor, the loadspace is enormous, plus the boot floor is quite low so it's easy to lift things into.

Enormous loadspace in the Grand C4 Picasso

We filled it up and made a few runs to help mop up the last of the boxes before setting off on the long drive home.

It’s not often that you need a vehicle to fulfil so many roles in such a short space of time, but when you do, you’ll be glad you’ve got a Grand C4 Picasso.

Grand C4 Picasso makes easy work of our tough week

Total mileage: 7,472 miles (started at 394)

Average mpg: 41.5mpg