Citroen’s soon-to-be-discontinued MPV remains one of the best seven-seater cars on the market, whether you’re buying new or used
If I were a paranoid guy, I think someone at Citroen was trying to tease me.
A week after I agreed to take the Grand C4 Spacetourer back to its mother country on a holiday test drive, the French brand announced it was discontinuing the seven-seater people carrier.
Production of the sleek-looking Spacetourer will end at the end of July, with Citroen citing “changing customer habits” for the move – everyone is buying SUVs instead of MPVs.
So you can no longer go to your local dealer and specify one for yourself. However, there are plenty of examples of delivery miles, as well as a healthy used market, and after our week I can confirm that it still has almost no competition for larger families looking for the ultimate in practicality and versatility.
It’s perhaps a sign of waning interest in the segment that apart from a few spec upgrades the car hasn’t seen any major updates in several years. It still looks the same as it did when it was called the Grand C4 Picasso, has the same engines and remains as feature-rich as ever.
This lack of change brings positives and negatives. Stylistically, the Grand C4 has always been a step ahead of its clumsy competitors like the Ford S-Max. Its proportions are well managed, and thin split-level lights and a tidy silver trim that runs around the top half of the car break up its boxy shape. Its visual “lightness” and inner airiness is reinforced by a windshield that extends far back into the roof line, where it almost connects to the huge panoramic sunroof.
Also on the plus side, you can properly disable lane assist, but the car still has advanced features like adaptive cruise control and auto low beams.
Less great is the presence of only one USB port and the video game picture quality from the 1990s rear parking camera. There’s also an archaic infotainment system housed in a meager seven-inch screen. Thankfully, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are present, so there’s no need to rely on previous-gen Citroen software unless you want to customize the climate control.
There are other design “quirks” that should have been figured out by now – front cup holders too small for anything but a flimsy bottle of Evian, and rear door pockets barely wide enough for a paperback – but they will all of that outweighed what the car is about right.
The room and how you can use it is absolutely central.
The Grand C4 is roughly the same length and width as a C-segment SUV, but features a longer wheelbase that offers far more leg and knee room for passengers. Even with the driver’s seat fully extended and the rear seats pushed forward to extend the luggage space, there’s plenty of room for adult passengers in the second row, whose sense of space is further enhanced by the completely flat floor.
Equally important, each rear seat is a full-size, Isofix-equipped single unit that slides, reclines, and folds independently. Even with a child still in a clunky car seat, we found enough room for three to sit side-by-side, and even after hours on the road we were spared the usual arguments about whose elbow was in whose place.
The Grand C4 also has possibly the best mechanism for accessing the third row of seats. Unlike the usual tilt and slide arrangement, the Citroen’s seat cushion folds up vertically before the seat slides forward, creating greater access space than either alternative.
Predictably, the third-row seats tucked into the trunk floor are less roomy. However, with all three rows lined up correctly, the Grand C4 is really capable of carrying seven average-sized adults.
As a seven-seater, not much luggage fits in the 155-litre boot, but in the standard five-seater configuration it’s a whopping 632 litres. If you need more, all three second-row seats fold down to create a completely flat boot floor, and there’s easily room for a couple of bikes, paddleboards or whatever other lifestyle accessory you’ve got. The passenger seat even folds flat to accommodate extra-long loads.
In addition to space for passengers and luggage, the Grand C4 is dotted with additional storage spaces. From the massive roll-top center box that can hold a week’s worth of travel candy to hidden underfloor compartments that can hold an iPad, there’s room for a whole family’s belongings. User-friendly touches like airline-style seatback tables and pull-up shades further demonstrate that this is a car that’s about as family-friendly as you could ask for.
With an emphasis on interior practicality, the overall design is fairly simple, although the DS-inspired gear selector behind the wheel has a reassuringly avant-garde Citroen touch. The cabin materials are all pretty impressive given the car’s advancing years, with a mix of premium soft-touch materials and durable fabrics designed to withstand family life.
One area that shows the Grand C4’s age – and one of the reasons for its demise – is under the hood. While the brand includes hybrid and electric options, our test car featured a basic petrol unit.
At 1.2-litre and 128bhp, it’s not the most powerful thing ever, especially compared to the S-Max’s 2.5-litre hybrid, but it’s still amazing at what it can do. Even five of us with a week’s worth of luggage never felt like it was going to struggle, although you certainly need to drive more relaxed and the automatic transmission can feel choppy at low speeds.
Another sign of its age is that the Grand C4 doesn’t benefit from Citroen’s Advanced Comfort suspension or seats. Nonetheless, it still has Citroen’s traditional focus on comfort, and passengers will have little to complain about – whether it’s slick European motorways or potholed British roads. The S-Max is undoubtedly better to drive, but the Citroen drives better and is just as quiet on the road.
Citroen’s decision to scrap the Grand C4 no doubt makes business sense, but it’s a shame that buyers of another brilliantly practical family car are being deprived.
Despite its age and some annoying design quirks, it still lives up to its claim, offering phenomenal space and versatility that no SUV of similar price or size can match.
Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer shine
Price: £32,500 (£33,045 as tested); Engine: 1.2-liter three-cylinder, turbo, petrol engine; Perfomance: 128 hp; Torque: 170 pounds foot; Transmission: eight-speed automatic; Top speed: 124 miles per hour; 0-62mph: 10 seconds; Business: 38.7-46mpg; CO2 emissions: 150g/km