What Car? says...
However long civilization lasts, it’s probably fair to say that Pablo Picasso’s artistic legacy will last longer than that of the Citroën C4 Picasso.
That’s not a slight against Citroën’s stoic MPV, but rather a reflection on the significance of Picasso’s work and the comparatively short time his name was tagged onto Citroën’s people-carriers.
Because now Citroën has, like a fickle modern art dealer, tossed his name aside in favour of a new one. It has newly christened the C4 Picasso as the C4 Spacetourer, bringing it in line with the French manufacturer’s biggest MPV, the nine-seat Spacetourer, while there’s also a seven-seat C4 Grand Spacetourer.
But we’re focusing on the five-seat version in this review. It promises to be one of the most practical cars of its type, with a roomy interior and a decent-sized boot. However, there’s plenty of five-seat MPV competition, including the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Golf SV.
Read on over the next few pages to get our in-depth impressions of the C4 Spacetourer, along with our recommendations for which trim levels and engines to choose. And if you want to buy one, visit our New Car Buying service to see how much you can save.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
There’s a 1.6-litre diesel engine available with wither 128bhp or 178bhp. We have yet to drive either, but suspect both will offer more low-end pulling power than the petrol option, so they would be better bets for long-haul journeys with cars packed full of passengers and luggage.
That said, the sole petrol choice is impressive enough to recommend as the pick of the range. The peppy 128bhp 1.2-litre unit zips along nicely in town and manages motorway journeys easily, too. The diesels may have more pulling power, but in official 0-62mph sprints, the petrol will just about see off the lower-powered diesel, while the other diesel is only marginally quicker.
Suspension and ride comfort
The C4 Spacetourer’s supple suspension deals with big bumps pretty well, so you won’t have to wince every time you encounter a speed bump. Unfortunately, patchy, eroded surfaces unsettle the car a little too easily, especially at low speeds, meaning a trip through town isn’t as comfortable as it might be.
The C4 Spacetourer’s body also tends to bounce up and down a fair bit along undulating country roads; you’ll want to keep your speed down if any of your passengers are prone to travel sickness.
Wheel sizes range from 16in to 18in, with the former providing the smoothest and quietest ride.
The steering is light – that's great for manoeuvring at low speeds, but it’s also rather numb, meaning it doesn’t inspire confidence on faster roads.
While the C4 Spacetourer sways around quite a bit through tight twists and turns, it never lurches around uncontrollably, and there’s a reasonable amount of grip, so you always feel in control of the car. Just don’t hope for an enjoyable drive.
Noise and vibration
The petrol engine is nicely hushed at low revs but, predictably, pile on the power and engine noise gets quite grating as you chase the redline – and that’s something you’ll need to do if you want to get a proper shake on.
The manual gearbox has a notchy, imprecise shift, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox swaps cogs smoothly, but is still quite slow to respond when you ask for a sudden getaway. In fact, it can feel downright ponderous in some situations.
Refinement is otherwise good, though. Wind and road noise are well suppressed, making the C4 Spacetourer a relaxing motorway cruiser.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
There are no major issues with the driving position, and there’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment to help you get comfortable. That said, the front seats could do with a bit of extra lower-back support. All versions receive an adjustable armrest (there’s another for the front passenger seat).
Some of the C4 Spacetourer’s switchgear is tricky to get the hang of, because many functions are controlled through the dashboard-mounted 7.0in touchscreen – even adjusting the temperature means switching to a specific air-con menu and jabbing at the display with your finger. That’s not something that’s easy to do while you’re driving.
The dashboard is very long and has quite a cluttered design around the infotainment system.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The C4 Spacetourer has just about the best visibility of any MPV. The windscreen stretches up and over the driver’s and passenger’s heads, the split front pillars don’t obscure your forward view too badly and there’s a broad expanse of glass all round.
All models get rear parking sensors, just to make reversing that bit easier, while Feel and Flair trims add front parking sensors. In addition, if you step up to range-topping Flair, you’ll get a reversing camera.
Sat nav and infotainment
The C4 Spacetourer’s standard 7.0in, dash-mounted touchscreen features smart graphics and large, easy-to-hit icons. There are also touch-sensitive panels around the edges of the screen that you can press to hop between functions. The trouble is that the buttons aren’t clearly labelled, so you have to study them carefully to make sure you’re pressing the right one.
The menu system on the touchscreen itself is also confusing and there’s often a long pause between pressing the display and the system responding. You can use the steering wheel controls to perform certain functions, but the sheer number of buttons and knobs adds yet another layer of confusion.
Bluetooth and an Aux socket are standard, as are the 12V sockets liberally strewn around the interior and the boot for those into power-hungry electronic games.
A digital radio is standard from entry-level Touch Edition, but if you go for Feel or Flair you’ll also receive an impressive 12.0in, full-colour, panoramic high-definition central display with Citroën’s impressive Connect Nav.
The C4 Spacetourer has a smart-looking interior with an appealing blend of materials and textures. The dashboard is dense and soft to the touch, while most of the buttons and knobs operate with a positive and well-damped action.
True, there’s the odd flimsy-feeling switch, but you’ll have to search hard to find any sharp edges or cheap-feeling plastics – even in the rear.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even seriously tall drivers will have no issues with head or leg room, while the bright and airy feel gives the impression that there’s even more space than there actually is.
The wide door pockets are easily big enough for large bottles of water and you’ll find two more stowage areas on the centre console – one between the front seats and another beneath the touchscreen. Both of these have lids, so are ideal for keeping valuables out of sight.
You’ll also find two cupholders on the centre console, although these are positioned quite low down, so it’s a bit of a stretch to reach for your cup of coffee. It’s also a pity that the glovebox isn’t bigger and is a rather awkward shape.
The front doors open wide and, because the seats are high, it’s easy for those with limited mobility to enter or exit the vehicle easily.
There are three individual seats in the back, each of which has enough leg, head and shoulder room to allow a six-footer to get comfortable. The flat floor is another bonus, because it means the middle passenger doesn’t have to straddle a raised tunnel.
It’s a shame that there isn’t a bit more stowage space in the rear. The door bins are tiny and you won’t fit much in the nets on the backs of the front seats. However, Flair models come with handy cubbies in the floor, along with foldable picnic tables on the front seatbacks.
Again, the rear doors open wide, making life easier at arrival and departure times.
Seat folding and flexibility
The rear seats can be reclined or folded flat independently of one another, and on Exclusive models and above the seats can be slid back and forth to either give rear passengers more knee room or free up boot space.
The C4 Spacetourer has more conveniently positioned Isofix mounts than most of its rivals, too, and because all three rear seats are an equal size (some rivals have a narrower centre seat), you'll have a good chance of safely carrying three young children in the back.
The front passenger seat can also be folded by pulling on a lever, allowing you to carry seriously long items; planks of timber or even a reasonable-length ladder will fit.
With the rear seats folded flat, you get a decent-sized load bay (at 1851 litres) that’s long enough to take most pushchairs lengthways. It is also flat, with no annoying steps or ridges to get in the way of loading and unloading.
With the rear seats in place, the boot holds 537 litres, beating the Renault Scenic but not quite matching the capacity of the Volkswagen Golf SV. However, with the rear seats down, the C4 Spacetourer has a much bigger capacity than its VW rival. The boot opening is also low enough to make loading heavy items relatively easy, plus there’s no boot lip, so you can slide your luggage straight in and out.
Top-spec versions have a hands-free powered tailgate. All versions have lashing points, a rear parcel shelf and a handy retractable load cover.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The C4 Spacetourer undercuts equivalent versions of the Volkswagen Golf SV and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer on price, and reasonable discounts are available from your dealer if you’re prepared to haggle. A Renault Scenic is a little cheaper, though.
Resale values aren’t anything to write home about, but the C4 Spacetourer won’t shed its worth as quickly as most big Citroëns and company car drivers will also be quids in, thanks to the low CO2 emissions – especially from the 1.6 diesel engines.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level Touch Edition models come with air conditioning, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels and rear parking sensors, although it’s worth stepping up to at least Feel (the next trim up) because you’ll also get the brilliant 12in panoramic HD central display, Citroën Connect Nav and front parking sensors.
Next up from Feel is Flair. This adds a panoramic sunroof, a reversing camera and blindspot monitoring. Families are also likely to find the standard keyless entry, hands-free tailgate opening and fold-down aircraft style tray tables highly desirable.
The options list is quite bewildering and dominated by packs, and most are trim-specific (they’re not available across the range). The Kids’ Pack is useful (offering a rear observation mirror and sunblinds) and inexpensive. The Feel Convenience Pack brings a stack of extras, including lane departure warning, radar-guided cruise control and a powered tailgate.
Citroën finished a lowly 28th place out of 32 manufacturers in our latest reliability survey, while the C4 Spacetourer finished rock bottom of the MPV class.
Thankfully, every new Citroën gets a three-year warranty, with the first two years covered for unlimited mileage, while the final year is provided by the Citroën dealer the car was sourced from (just bear in mind that the dealer warranty is limited to cars with less than 60,000 miles on the clock). However, Scenics get an even better four-year warranty.
Safety and security
Six airbags are fitted as standard on all versions, including curtain airbags to protect front passengers as well as those in the back.
The C4 Spacetourer scored the maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this was from 2013, when the tests were less stringent than they are now.
It’s still a safe car, though, since automatic emergency braking is standard on all models.
Blindspot monitoring and lane departure warning are standard in range-topping Flair trim, but these are cost options on Feel models and not even available on entry-level Touch Edition trim.