Honda Odyssey VTi 2014 review: snapshot
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Honda Odyssey VTi, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Citroen’s first-generation C4 Picasso has always been a bit of an unsung hero of the seven-seat people mover segment, with compact dimensions, a car-like drive experience and undisputable Euro-chic appeal.
This appeal was not reflected on the sales charts though, culminating in just 61 units in 2013, compared to the segment-leading Kia Grand Carnival (2847), Hyundai iMax (1455), Honda Odyssey (1001), and Toyota Tarago (960).
The new second-generation Grand C4 Picasso represents a ground-up redesign, with a new Citroen corporate face, improved packaging, fresh technology and class-leading efficiency, which should at least be enough to put a dent in its rivals’ sales charts when it arrives in Australian showrooms on March 1.
Positioned between the Kia Rondo and Honda Odyssey in size, the seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso’s wheelbase has grown 110mm to 2840mm, while overall length remains the same 4600mm.
The new model is the first to arrive in Australia using Citroen-parent PSA’s new ‘Efficient Modular Platform’ EMP2 platform, which will underpin several new Citroen and Peugeot models, plus some General Motors products under the PSA/GM alliance.
Along with the new platform’s greater use of high-strength steel, the new Grand C4 Picasso uses an aluminium bonnet, composite tailgate and weight optimisation of several ancillary items to weigh in at just 1440kg - 100kg less than the outgoing model, and at least 336kg less than the Odyssey.
Interior design highlights include twin multimedia screens in the dash, with a 12-inch widescreen unit for trip computer, satnav and 360 degree camera display, and a 7-inch secondary unit in the centre stack for HVAC controls, satnav, and multimedia information. Retractable window blinds are also standard for the second row, along with a roof-mounted conversation mirror and 12V power sockets for all three rows.
Interior trim quality has jumped several notches over the 2007-vintage previous model, with clever details like an anti-static treatment to minimise dust attraction. The new model’s extended wheelbase has contributed to 55mm more knee room in the second row, and 16mm for third-row occupants.
The three-part second row and third row seats can be folded flat, and a load length of up to 2.5m is possible with the front passenger seat folded forward. Cargo space with all seats up is 165L, which expands to 632-793L with the third row folded (depending on second row position), and 2,181L with the second row folded.
The Grand C4 Picasso carries a 1600kg braked tow rating, 840kg payload and comes with an inflation kit in lieu of a spare tyre.
The new Grand C4 Picasso will be available in a single ‘Excusive’ trim level for Australia, with a turbodiesel and six-speed auto as the sole drivetrain. The new $43,990 entry price may be $4,500 higher than the old model, but Citroen claims this is balanced by $9,000 worth of extra value.
Standard features include a leather steering wheel, satnav, dual-zone climate control with second row vents and fan control, front and rear parking sensors, four-camera 360 degree exterior view, automated parking system for parallel and perpendicular reverse parks, Bluetooth phone and audio, 8GB media storage, panoramic glass roof with electric sunblind, auto headlights and wipers, speed-limiting cruise control, proximity keys, and 17 inch wheels.
Optional extras include the $2000 Drive Assist Pack that adds active cruise control, lane departure and collision warnings, active seat belts and auto high-beam. Also available is partial leather trim with electric lumbar and massage functions for the front seats, second row tray tables, and an electric footrest for the front passenger ($2500 or $5000 with full leather and electric heated front seats). A powered tailgate can also be added for $1000, plus Bi-Xenon headlights ($2000) and 18-inch wheels ($1500). The Grand C4 Picasso is also the only non-DS Citroen model to come with an industry-leading six-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance.
The Grand C4 Picasso’s sole engine is the new BlueHDi 110kW/370Nm 2.0-litre unit, which produces max torque between 2000-2500rpm, can accelerate to 100km/h in 10.2 seconds, and is rated at a class-leading 4.5L/100km combined. This last figure suggests a realistic open-road range of about 1222km from the 55-litre tank.
To achieve optimum fuel efficiency and minimal emissions, the new engine uses AdBlue urea injection, with a 17-litre tank designed to last between 20,000km service intervals. The sole transmission is a new six-speed torque converter automatic – unlike the previous single-clutch automated manual – which promises faster gearchanges, quieter operation and is paired with a standard stop/start system.
The Grand C4 Picasso comes with dual front airbags, side and curtain airbags for the first two rows only, blind-spot monitoring, hill-assist, ABS and stability control, and all three second row child seat anchorage points use ISOFIX and top-tether mountings. The Grand C4 Picasso has been rated with a maximum five stars by ANCAP.
The new Grand C4 Picasso impresses on many levels. The new model continues with the previous model’s excellent driver visibility, with large quarter windows splitting the twin A-pillars and broad side windows leading to relatively slim D-pillars.
This visibility is also handy during parking situations, along with short overhangs and an Odyssey-matching 10.8m (down from 11.3m) turning circle diameter makes for nimble manoeuvring. When asked, the standard automated parking system is capable of squeezing into perpendicular or parallel reverse parks with just 20cm of clearance.
The new turbodiesel’s 370Nm of torque may only be on tap over a relatively narrow 500rpm rev band, but there’s barely any lag off the mark, and the new six-speed auto shifts with impressive intuition, without the tendency to hold taller gears like many other fuel consumption heroes.
There is a degree of diesel clatter at idle, but this is barely detectable when underway and it revs smoothly and responsively for an oiler, with impressive performance that is not likely to diminish significantly with a full load.
The Grand C4 Picasso we drove was fitted with the optional 18-inch wheels, which likely contributed to a slightly sharp ride over bumpy terrain and a degree of road noise over coarse surfaces. The standard 17s would probably be the optimal choice.
The 18s were just fine on smooth surfaces though, and the suspension displays impressive composure for a relatively tall people mover, and rolls very little through the bends.
Similarly, the new electric steering is surprisingly sporting for a people mover, with nice weighting and sharp turn-in to inspire confidence during cornering.
Despite the move to an all-new platform, the new model continues with a cheap and lightweight torsion beam rear end, but this proved no compromise on test, dealing very well with mid-corner bumps. Aside from the Grand C4 Picasso’s higher seating position, the drive experience is very car-like.
The new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a cleverly designed, good value and practical seven-seater that drives a lot like a sedan, and will compete very strongly against its rivals.
|Exclusive||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$17,990 – 25,990||2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 2014 Exclusive Pricing and Specs|