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Citroen has raised its game in the seven-seater MPV market, launching its latest Grand C4 Picasso with impressive emissions and good looks to compete with the likes of the Ford Grand C-max, Renault Grand Scenic and Vauxhall's Zafira Tourer.
The French brand says the car is "more manoeuvrable" than its predecessor, having aimed to keep the comfort of the outgoing model while improving driving dynamics.
It's an important vehicle for the carmaker, making up nearly three-quarters of the model's sales; next year, Citroen expects to sell 6000 C4 Picassos, the new five-seat sibling that was launched earlier this year, and 14,000 Grand C4 Picassos.
The car weighs 110kg less than its predecessor but keeps the same overall length of 4.59m but with a wheelbase extended to 2.84m, an increase of 11cm, which means more space for passengers and greater boot capacity.
It also has a class-leading emissions figure of 98g/km CO2 and economyof 74.3mpg for the automatic 115hp 1.6-litre e-HDi Airdream ETG6, although the most popular fleet version will be the e-HDi 115 Airdream with a six-speed manual 'box and 105g/km, equating to a 16% benefit-in-kind banding. There are also two petrol iterations and a new 150hp 2.0-litre engine emitting 110g/km (17% BIK), as tested here.
Despite its weight reduction, a car of this size is always going to feel on the heavy side. The key is combating this with balanced steering and decent handling, and Citroen has done a good job. It absorbs large bumps well, but suffers slightly more with smaller road undulations. Still, body roll is surprisingly minimal, and there's plenty of power for all types of journey.
The interior is comfortable and classy, with good-quality materials and neatly designed functions including two digital displays: a 7-inch touch-screen and 12-inch HD screen, which allow you to control vehicle settings and in-car systems. However, they aren't as intuitive as they could be, and there were some glitches with the satnav and music set-ups. The car also offers 360° Vision, which gives the driver an on-screen bird's eye view, a rear view or a panoramic front view.
There are no whole-life costs yet - the Grand C-max currently leads the rivals with a cost per mile of 47.8 pence per mile, versus 51.3ppm for
the Grand Scenic and 52.5ppm for the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. Citroen expects residual values to be competitive with the Ford, and if this is the case, the Grand C4 Picasso could be a serious contender in the whole-life cost battle, though is unlikely to beat the excellent Grand C-max.
The car is a dramatic improvement in every way on the outgoing model, and its sharp looks partnered with good emissions and space will make this a popular choice for fleet buyers in need of a seven-seat vehicle.
Grand C4 Picasso BlueHDi 150 six-speed manual Extensive