Citroen Grand C4 Picasso - Flight simulator

  • ‘RELAX’ massaging front passenger seat under the microscope
  • Electrically-operated foot rest designed to help you luxuriate
  • Standard on Exclusive+ but a £700 option on Exclusive trim

Imagine for a moment you’ve boarded a plane that’s going to jet you off to a fabulous long-haul destination and you’re determined to make the most of the experience.

You’re going to travel in lavish luxury, so forget the cheap seats to the right – as you’re welcomed aboard you’re turning left; Business Class and those opulently reclining seats beckon, cosseting you as you ease back, kick off your shoes and snooze in between refreshments.

What’s that got to do with Parkers’ long-term Citroen Grand C4 Picasso? No, it doesn’t come with its own cabin crew, but our range-topping Exclusive+ version does have a ‘RELAX’ front passenger seat. If you’re considering the one-rung-down Exclusive, it’s bundled with the £700 optional part-leather upholstery pack.

Disappointingly, RELAX isn’t a whimsical acronym (although I’ll endeavour to conjure one up by the end of the article), but it does mean that not only does the electrically adjustable seat itself come with the in-built massage function, there’s a leather-upholstered foot rest that extends out under your calves.

As I spend 99 percent of my time in the driver’s seat, the function’s been lost on me so far, so I called upon the services of three friends of Parkers for their opinions.

Lucy Wilcox – Parkers Marketing Department and acknowledged non-fan of MPVs

“Oh! That’s weird, isn’t it?” queried Lucy as she turned on the massaging function on the passenger seat. “I was expecting it to be firmer than that but you can feel the little bags of air inflating and deflating behind you. If it was a stronger sensation I think I’d enjoy it but no, I think that’d just annoy me.”

So what of the foot rest? “Now, that feels unusual too but I like that – when I go anywhere long distance with my husband he always drives so this would be a great way to relax in the passenger seat. My feet go into the space under the dashboard too, so it’s really comfy. Yeah, I like it!”

Sophie Douglas – Mother & Baby’s Web Editor and runner-up in the Picasso flat out seat-folding challenge

Sophie seems sceptical from the start: “Do you need a seat that does all that in a car? I can imagine it in the back of a limousine but in the front of a people carrier..?”

Can she be convinced? “Now that I’ve got the chair reclined all the way back the thing that’s popped straight into my mind is that it feels like I’m at the dentist – I just need a spot light above me and that weird mouthwash stuff. And my feet aren’t comfortable at all as my toes are pressed against the glove box.”

Perhaps the massager will appeal: “You know what? It feels like the seat’s hugging me and I can feel it breathing behind me. I really don’t like that at all, how do you turn it off?”

Becky Statham – Your Horse’s Senior Writer who investigated how well the Picasso fitted into her life

“I really like this massager – it must be great for making you relaxed on long journeys, although it’s a bit fiddly to get it to the exact degree of pressure you want using the plus and minus buttons. A numbered setting which remembers where you had it would be better. Plus the more you recline the seat back, the less effective it seems to be.”

And the foot rest? “Yeah, I like that too – it’s really easy to adjust, there’s room for my feet under the dashboard and it conveniently retracts when you don’t need it.”

Nothing conclusive from that small sample but then we all enjoy different seating positions when we’re driving, so a lack of consensus about the RELAX (how well does REst LAze luXuriate work?) passenger seat isn’t entirely surprising. The mixed reports have intrigued me enough to arrange to be chauffeured about and try it out for myself before too long.

One thing is clear: if you’re considering upgrading your Exclusive specification Picasso with the option, try it before you buy it. For just £50 more you could have the superior illuminating Xenon headlamps option and you’ll appreciate the benefit of those much more frequently, particularly as the nights draw in.

Or spend it on a plane ticket to somewhere hot.

Total mileage: 10,612 miles (started at 394)

Average mpg: 41.9mpg