Share
Citroën's Grand C4 SpaceTourer is an endangered species: a multi-people vehicle, or MPV. These used to be the only way to move up to seven people from A to B in something resembling a car, until the SUV arrived, which took away all sales from MPVs and estates alike. But is there still a place for the humble MPV?

What is it?

  • Model: Citroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer
  • Version: BlueHdi 130 EAT8
  • Spec level: Flair +
  • Options fitted: Metallic paint (£545)
  • Cost as tested: £34,285

We like

  • Arm rests
  • Sliding sun visors
  • Thin steering wheel

We don't like

  • Rear windscreen wiper slipping
  • Fiddly navigation system
  • The weather
  • Costs: None

Month 1

Mileage: 2,774
Fuel consumption: 40mpg

We said goodbye to our Vauxhall Combo Life X and hello the our new Citroën Grand C4 SpaceTourer in December. A seven-seater is a necessary evil in our blended family thanks to four boys aged 12, 10, nine and seven plus a one-year-old black Labrador. We've had pretty much every large SUV on the market but grew fed up with high running costs and lumpy, heavy handling that SUVs provide. We've gone MPV this time round to keep the space but recover some sense of driver satisfaction, and we've gone Citroën because their primary purpose when designing a car is comfort, and we'll have some of that, thank you!

Our first month with the Citroën has been eventful and not in a good way. We left it in a countryside carpark and came back to find three massive chalky scratches down the driver's side, over the rear wheel arch. No dent, at least. But no note either.

Aside from that, however, it has been nothing but happy days so far. MPVs may not look great, and the Grand C4 SpaceTourer is no exception, but inside it is an absolute delight. We keep discovering little storage spaces, like under the floor at the foot of each rear seat, for kids to stow their toys. And there's a two-step deep storage bin between the front seats which swallows water bottles, wallets, phones and sandwiches.

Another great feature is the sun visors, which flip down but then also slide further down the screen for more protection from the sun. When it's cloudy, they slide right back into the roof above your head, leaving a huge panoramic windscreen with excellent forward and side vision, which is further helped by gracefully thin A-pillars.

The Citroën maintains the old-fashioned gear selector up by the large, thin steering wheel, which is brilliant - it's hard to miss a gear and is easily movable. The large digital screen showing speed, revs, gear etc is set into the centre of the dashboard, not in front of the driver, which is also brilliant once you get used to it - it's still in your peripheral vision but clears the space right in front of you for the maximum view of the road ahead.

The front two seats have arm rests which I love and my partner hates and folds up. The second row of seats slide individually forward and back which means a tall child in the third row of two fixed seats can be given extra leg room for individual journeys. The rearmost two seats slide and fold up or back flat into the boot floor with just a tug of a red strap.

We really are looking forward to month two with the Citroën, and seeing what sort of fuel economy we get from this diesel engine on a mixture of school runs, shopping, work commutes and longer family trips.

Month 2

Mileage: 4,778
Fuel consumption: 43mpg

Yes, the rear windscreen wiper started wiping the boot instead of the rear window, which was annoying on a new car. We assumed it was just a loose screw in the wiper fixing but couldn’t access it from the inside, so took it to a dealer who said it was something loose inside the tailgate and we’d need to return it to Citroën. They had it a week and it’s fixed, so off we go again.

The Grand C4 SpaceTourer is a delight to drive. Seeing as few people care about power any more, the meagre 130 horsepower won’t matter to many drivers. And the silver lining is improved fuel economy. We’re getting about 43mpg over a regular weekly routine of school drop-off (eight miles), shopping (about 10 miles round trip) and various trips to rugby, football and other activities for the kids. So that’s not bad fuel economy for lots of short, stop-start runs.

For our driving and general car use/abuse, power comes a distant second to space and practicality. And Citroëns have always been stuffed with both those features. Our boys are now 12, 10, nine and seven years old, and growing rapidly, but the Citroën has plenty of leg space for gangly pre-teenagers in all three rows. We love the fact the middle row’s three seats all slide back and forwards individually, meaning the four kids, hockey sticks, gym bags, swimming bags and school rucksacks (plus large dog) will fit in any combination.

It’s not all good though. We’ve given up with the Citroën's built-in navigation, on the basis it’s really awful. Stubborn auto-zooming into microscopic detail makes it hard to get a bigger view of the journey, the map isn’t clear, the colours are awful, it doesn’t provide much useful information and, by default, we just plug our phones in and use Google Maps via CarPlay instead. Which is what a good number of drivers do anyway, regardless of car brand.

Back to the positives though and an overlooked little bonus of the Citroën is the tray underneath each front seat. Walking the dog every day often means leaving the car in deserted rural carparks, especially this year when everyone is better off sitting at home building an ark rather than walking a dog in knee-high mud. It’s a pain to carry valuables but risky to leave them sitting on the seat or in the footwell, and my purse fits nicely in the seat tray, hidden from view. It’s then just a case of remembering where I left it…

Months 3 & 4

Mileage: 5234
Fuel consumption: 44.7mpg

Lockdown for the past two months with the Citroën has meant short, infrequent journeys to the shops. Not ideal for a diesel, which needs to get properly warm before you switch off, to stop the diesel particulate filter clogging up with unburnt, erm, stuff from the engine.

Luckily, the weather has been kind, with high daytime temperatures, and the essential trip to the supermarket involves a decent stretch of national-speed-limit road, so the car has been ok. One decent run a week has meant no rust on the brake discs, or flat spots on the tyres.

When restrictions on outdoors exercise started to lift, I’ve never been so pleased to have a capacious seven-seater. My two boys and I flipped the third and second-row seats forwards and down to create a large flat loadspace all the way through to the front seats, and loaded our three bikes on board for the short trip to the cycle path. The roof height means it’s even easier to load large items.

As soon as the refuse tips opened locally, my partner filled the Citroën again, with the accumulated contents of the garage from the past two months - broken TV, kitchen stool, torn posters, split bag of sand, you name it - but, as I write this, I’m staring at the forlorn image of the Citroën still loaded to the gunnels, sitting on the driveway. The queue of pent-up desires to dump domestic detritus is apparently still too long on each attempt.

No issues to report, although there are some nasty little hairline scratches from the kids and dog pottering past the car constantly, that will need some elbow grease before we return it.

Month 5

Mileage: 9,315
Fuel consumption: 51mpg

I drove the Citroën down to the south coast of France in July with my mother and children on board for a week’s R'n'R. The plane seemed too much of an unknown, given the unpalatable mixture of masks, delays, checks and small children. It was a 740-mile, one-day slog and, in my line of work, I could have taken my choice of cars for an extended test drive. But I had an inkling nothing would beat the Citroën for the mixture of light, space, comfort, ease of driving and fuel economy. SUVs drink too much fuel, don’t have huge boots and don’t handle well. Estates tend to be bit cramped in the rear and hatchbacks don’t have enough room to sling family stuff in and go.

Citroën’s main brand strength is comfort right now and the seven-seat C4 SpaceTourer really cannot be bettered if you have kids or a lot of people on board. With the third row of seats folded flat there’s a huge boot, with the option to fold the middle seat of the second row flat to allow long items to poke through. The middle row of seats slide independently forwards and back, which gave my kids huge amounts of leg room and meant they could each shove their rucksacks at their feet for the journey, as well as folding out the seat trays and using the cargo nets on the backs of the front seats.

The flat floor meant I could tuck my bag just behind the front seats, and put our purses, water bottles and sweets in the huge central compartment. We each had an arm rest, and the head rests fold in at each side for easier snoozing. The blind on the panoramic roof slides back in stages so you can shield occupants from the sun or give them a fresh view of sky. The ability of the sun visors to open, close and slide back into the roof to reveal yet more sky above my head was a welcome relief when you’re trying to refresh yourself several hours in to the trip. The A-pillars at the front corners of the car are beautifully slim, giving a very wide, open view of the road ahead.

We had our mandatory hazard warning triangle, hi-vis vests, alcohol-testing kit, GB numberplates and headlight stickers on board and we were off.

The car was quiet, smooth and refined as we set off on the autoroute (my mother said she didn’t know diesels could be that quiet), performed a sling-shot around the Paris ring road and headed south in a straight line all the way to Beziers. The very best part, however, was the fuel economy of our fully laden car, which rose and rose to 53mpg and saw us to the Languedoc on one tank of fuel.

Life with the Citroën has convinced me MPVs are the unsung heroes of the motoring world. It’s probably too late to turn back the tide of SUVs and, should the bubble burst, it’s likely those buyers will migrate back to the estate cars they used to buy. MPVs may be the ugly ducklings but, please, forget the image and embrace the lifestyle these cars embody. They are the humble chariots of our roads – nobody hates you or tries to race you, they are happy cars and you’ll be very happy inside one, I promise you.

Month 6

Mileage: 13,320
Fuel consumption: 48.6mpg

The Citroën just gets better and better. My partner got out of it yesterday after a weekend spent taking sacks of rubble to the skip, a commute to Oxford and local drop-offs of the kids around town and simply said “I don’t care that MPVs aren’t very fashionable right now - I bloody love this car.” It’s got an incredible amount of usable space, whether for suitcases, rubbish, bicycles, shopping, four kids of various sizes and/or a dog. It beats every SUV into a cocked hat, given the seven-seater ones in the market tend to have very limited boot space where the Citroën has various nooks, crannies and drawers under seats and so on.

It’s also very, very comfortable, with its arm rests and the ability to slide individual seats forwards and back. You cannot overestimate the positive effect of light flooding in the huge glazed windscreen that stretches back into the roof, either.

Six months into ownership we keep finding more features to be thankful for and offer gratitude to whomever at Citroën thought of them. For example, if you fold the third row of seats into the floor, you can release flaps from the seat backs of the second row which then cover the gap between folded seat and the second row, to create a flat load space. Concertina flaps behind the third row fold forward to finish the flat floor. When the third row of seats are up, those flaps just clip back into place on the seat backs of the second row. Only people who have firmly put themselves in the minds of a busy family using this car would have thought of that.

We have, however, also accumulated more nasty scratches and a couple of small dents. They just keep appearing and I can only assume the kids are knocking the car with their bikes as they go past or something. One local bodyshop has quoted £500 to sort. It’s deeply annoying. And the AdBlue warning sign has come up - we’ve got 1,500 miles to go before a top-up is required.

None of this is the car’s fault, however.

Interested in buying a Citroen ?