More than just a Beige Box…

The Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, favoured by Uncle Bryn from Gavin and Stacey – and I can see why!

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Flair BlueHDI, model on test: £29,070

Uncle Bryn’s trusted Picasso from Gavin and Stacey has come in for a lot of flack for being boring, but is that fair? On a long weekend in North Devon visiting my folks, I thought it was time to see how it stacked up in real life.

Citroen may not have helped by delivering my review car in ‘Soft Sand’ – beige to you and me – which led to it being dubbed the beige box, but that aside, let’s see how it behaves once the colour shock has worn off. For the record, you don’t see the body colour from the inside, so once you are inside, it doesn’t really matter, but I much prefer the deep blue that’s available.

The first thing you can’t get over is that this car is incredibly spacious. It is called a Grand Picasso, and ‘grand’ in French of course means big (if my GCSE French is up to scratch), so that’s no surprise. But what is surprising is that it doesn’t feel like it when you’re driving. I think it’s because of a combination of the driving position and the fact that the gearbox is positioned under the car (hence the high driving position) that gives it great all-round visibility. Once you’ve got used to the car, you know that what you see is what you get – that’s the physical size of the car.

So it’s big but feels small and thanks to the visibility, easy to drive and manoeuvre, even with the kids complaining that their iPads won’t connect to the internet… because we’re in a car, and there isn’t any. And it’s really quite well specced – granted the Flair is the top of the range, but the test car only had metallic paint as an option – yes, you have to pay an extra £550 for beige – so all the toys were standard.

And that’s quite impressive, considering this has 18 inch alloys, a great 7 inch touchscreen that controls all vehicle functions, retractable integrated sun blinds (not always a necessity in the UK, but when you need em, you need em), panoramic roof, great stereo and extendable sun visor for the driver. Oh… and a seat massager. Did I mention that? That was a benefit that cannot be underrated.

Okay, so it’s spacious and well equipped, and the 1.6 BlueHDI is frugal yet punchy – taking a 1.7 ton car to 62 mph in less than 10 seconds – so far, so good.

Then we get onto the little details that you become aware of on a longer trip… and it gets even better.

The display with the speedo and gauges is fantastic – space age in looks and really clear and easy to see at a glance. And when you’re driving the family down the M5 and the kids are moaning, the less distractions the better!

Speaking of the kids, underneath the rear view mirror is a little wide-angle mirror that allows you to see all rear seats and where the kids are without having to turn or glance away from the road for longer than a fraction of a second. Little things like that can make a big difference on a long journey. And the seats themselves are remarkably flexible – movements and adjustments can accommodate adults and kids in equal comfort.

Finally, the vents for the air conditioning in the second and third row of seats mean that when you find a comfortable temperature, it will be uniform for the whole car. Whether you can pick a temperature on the air con that everyone is happy with is another question.

So the final verdict?

It’s great car, and if you need lots of space, or the ability to carry more than five people in comfort and yet still have something that moves like a car, not a small bus, the Grand C4 Picasso would be a great choice. Just don’t buy it in Soft Sand.

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