Citroen Grand C4 Picasso - Bonjour, welcome to Parkers

  • Spacious, flexible seven-seater joins the Parkers long-term fleet
  • Packed to the rafters with equipment and feels well-made
  • This Exclusive+ example isn’t cheap, costing £31,380

Forget the ancient Cerne Abbas Giant cut into the turf on a Dorset hillside, today’s fertility symbols are spacious seven-seaters, such as the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. This particular one has newly-joined the Parkers long-term test fleet and will be my trusty steed for the next six or so months.

Now, this isn’t an unsubtle way of announcing I’m going to be a father again. My trio of offspring – Jack (14), Fin (11) and Lily (9) – are no longer the tiddly little people they once were, nor will their ranks be added to. I’ll save the details of my vasectomy for The Lancet.

That's not to say the Citroen’s inherent flexibility, with seating trickery that would doubtless impress Erno Rubik (he of the eponymous cube fame), will be wasted: a spacious wagon where the kids - and occasionally their friends - can be transported about in comfort, is a welcome addition to the household. Hence just a couple of weeks in, it’s already chalked up over 1,000 miles.

Truth is, I like spacious people carriers like the latest Grand C4 Picasso. Cars have to fit a multitude of uses reflecting the varying needs life throws at them, so the more flexible it is, the more useful it will prove to be. Seven seats which can be folded flat when not needed, turning it into a plush van, suits me fine – especially when I’ve got umpteen hundred old car magazines to collect from the opposite end of the country. I am dealing with that eBay bidding addiction, honest.

This isn’t my first encounter with the second generation Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, having reported for Parkers on its international launch back in October 2013. I was struck then by how fit for purpose it felt, as well as the overall comfort afforded by the driving experience – something the firm has also been lauded for with the C4 Cactus, but continues to be pilloried about for the firmness of the settings imposed on the larger DS models.

As an in-car gadget fiend, Exclusive+ specification, sitting at the pinnacle of the Picasso hierarchy was the way to go trim-wise, but I dabbled with a handful of options too. I’ve always liked seeing these Grand C4s in Teles Blue, which added £520 to the bill, while the two-tone, full leather interior – hide upholstery has infinitely better wipability qualities over fabric in a family bus – was a hefty £2,000 extra.

Considering how much of my driving is done under the cover of darkness, I subscribe to a policy of demanding as much illumination as possible, hence the option box for the £750 swivelling Xenon headlamps was also ticked. I’ll cover its enormous equipment roster in future update, but the list of kit is long.

All-in it weighs in at £31,380. It’s a figure many will baulk at for any kind of MPV, let alone one wearing a Citroen badge. Those early adopters who flocked towards the old Xsara Picasso did so in large part due to its good value.

Behind that futuristic nose with its split-level lighting arrangement, our Grand C4 Picasso is powered by the same 148bhp, 2-litre BlueHDi 150 diesel motor that also served in the outgoing Peugeot 308 SW I ran.

Biggest change over the Peugeot is instead of the six-speed manual gearbox, the Citroen employs a fully-automatic transmission, also with a sextet of ratios. Flicking between Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Manual (yes, there are the now obligatory steering wheel paddles too), is conducted by a little wand on the top right of the steering column. To the uninitiated, you quickly get used to its convenient placement – plus it frees up space for a large storage cubby between the front seats. For the Citroenistes among us, it’s something of a homage to the gear lever positioning of wafting Gallic models of old.

So far, and all’s good although the 33.3mpg averaged is concerning, but it’s sure to improve significantly when the engine loosens up. At the rate it’s currently getting used, that shouldn’t take too long at all.

Total mileage: 1,077 miles (started at 394)

Average mpg: 33.3mpg