Written on: 25/05/2012 by Live2Die (16 reviews written)
Had this from new in 2009. Back then, the main requirements from "the boss" were for an automatic (auto licence), 7 seater (3 kids + friends), in red, and not Renault (don't ask, sigh).
And in 2009, there wasn't actually that much choice. Had just come from the Ford Galaxy and didn't want to go back there.
After a long and diligent search :-P, finally chose the C4 Grand Picasso for the style, safety (NCAP5, back when some manufacturers wouldn't even let their cars be assessed), efficiency and price, in that order; over and above the boss' requirements. Initially had some reservations about the sequential auto-box, as to whether the boss could even drive it legally, but eventually found that a change in the law in 2003 meant that anything without a clutch pedal OR gear lever, was considered automatic. Yay.
Leading up to 2009, you could not beat the original C4 Picasso for smarts kudos. And the Grand just built on it. It wasn't a new model even then, but there were still pretty few about, which gave it that extra wow.
The front styling is almost identical to the standard, but there is a discontinuity in the leading line between windscreen and bonnet, which tends to give the Grand a slightly more muscular look, even though it's the same width.
The rear has that streamlined cut-off slope down, now a standard on almost all hatch backs for that perfect compromise between interior headroom and streamlining.
It's definitely one of those "looks-larger-than-it-is" and the reduced luggage space compared to the ol'Galaxy took some getting used to, especially when packing 5 to the airport, or for camping. Further, the slope-down rear means the hatch is lower in height than the headroom, resulting in unusable headroom for luggage, compared to a standard MPV.
But those roof rails came in handy and coped well with 120 pounds of dinghy on top and 3 bikes hanging off the hatch.
As with it's class, the 3rd row is only suitable for small kids... but it was a price worth paying for the ease with which the seats fold, compared to the ol'Galaxy where 30 lbs of seat had to be manhandled in and out. The fronts seats are very comfy, with the middle row ones ok... not much elbow room if you have 3 in there. The rear ones, never actually tried them :D.
Plenty of space up front for storing stuff with 1 glove box and 2 dash boxes. A clever use of often wasted space. In the rear there is much less space for storing stuff, and the cup-holders are a joke. With the auto-box, there is a useful space between the front seats. Kids thought the built in blinds on the rear windows were brill, pity they 3rd row didn't have them too.
The large windows and windscreen give it that roomy feel. Though to be honest the extra sky views are overrated and there's a price to be paid in the summer... it's a rolling greenhouse.
When I first drove it, I was amazed at how quick it was with what seemed to me a tiny engine at the time... there is virtually no turbo lag, and the power squeezes on smoothly.... never been brave enough to red line though.
A lot of it is to do with the overall lightness and clever use of alloys... unfortunately this means a bouncy ride when lightly loaded, which isn't helped by the slightly narrower wheelbase (compared to the Galaxy).
Handling is not optimal, with pitch and roll affecting steering, which can catch you out when accelerating or braking while cornering ie. roundabouts. Bumpy country roads are a battle with the wheel.
All round visibility is good, with few blind-spots and a good "feel" for the nearside kerb. Still have to be careful of low walls or bollards though.
One distracting thing is that the reflection of shiny bits on the dash can be seen in the extra high windscreen. Yet another minus for high windscreens.
The efficiency is good at 54mpg real long term average, medium to lightly loaded, mixed town and country, the odd motorway.
The "boss" got used to the electric clutch auto-box after a bit of moaning about "proper" automatics. I use manual because I feel it gives better control, and the paddle shifters are cool. Though I sometimes get confused between left and right and shift down to 2nd at 60 oops. And don't expect racing car experience as it takes about 1.5s per gear change. Which is another reason to drive manual, as last thing you want to do is put your foot down and then wait 1.5s for the box to kick-down. But otherwise the auto-box seemed to work well. Having said that, in recent months, the boss has reported the odd erratic shifts... so definitely not something to mess about with outside the warranty.
The electric handbrake is of course vital on an auto clutch box, rather than being a value added feature. It worked flawlessly, though beware that if you stop with engine running, on a small slope, it will not automatically engage. Couple of times I've stopped briefly to check something outside the car and had it start to roll away. Sshhhh, don't tell the boss. And not sure what would happen if say the battery went flat and it needed to be towed away.
One thing that really sucked was the air-con, which is simply not man enough for the average British summer. It starts off fine, but as soon as you got stuck in a jam for more that a few minutes, as you do, the free-draught condenser overheats. Once that happens, it "sulks" until the air temp drops below 27'C... which usually didn't happen until you got where you were going.
With the greenhouse effect of the large glass area, this was a double whammy, especially for the kids in the 3rd row, without built in sun blinds.
Really like the static controls pod in the centre of the steering... another clever idea from Citroen which I'm sure all cars will adopt in the future. One bad point though is that because it's out in the light, the few indicator lamps on it(high beam, fogs, etc) are often too dim to see in good daylight.
The central instrument panel is good once you got used to it, though the distance from the driver means that some of the smaller indications (like the radio channel, etc) are not easily readable at a glance, especially if you have your seat kicked back.
For the most part I was impressed with the Citroen quality of materials and workmanship. The services were all pretty normal. Engine started first time, every time. The biggest expense was the tyres, which are manufacturer specified. Michelin Primacys, £120 a pop after 20000 miles. And they're like skates in snow. Actually even on a quick get away at roundabouts, in the dry, the front would often lose traction.
A few things that it had to go back for warranty repairs were, one of the middle row seat latch down mechs (the seat wouldn't stay down), two middle row seat-belt latches, and the the rear hatch latch. They seem to have a problem with latches ??
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