Hi all.

I took delivery of my new motability car on Tuesday - a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 eHDI ETG6 Exclusive. I'm aware that there have been some very useful posts on this car but I was rather concerned about the tech and gearbox and thought I would just share some of my experiences with this car.

Firstly my Motability experience has been very easy. Everything is taken care of and my local dealer (Worleys Citroen) have been brilliant. Despite being a very small dealer they have kept contact throughout my licence wait and got me a test drive in the exact model I was looking for.

Cabin.

The interior feels very spacious, there is a lot of space for the driver and passenger, something my wife who likes to stretch out appreciates. Storage is good in the centre console but elsewhere there isn't as much room as you might expect. Seats are firm rather than plush but good enough - I'd prefer a little more leg support and much deeper padding. I expect frequent tea stops on long journeys. The middle row is also spacious although long legs might need to adjust their seat back, and as the seats are individually adjustable this is not a problem. I like the fold down tables although my experience with other such tables are that they aren't a strong point and break easily with heavy use (read kids). The electric windows can be locked out (yay!) but the passenger heater controls can't (boo!). My 6 year old finds the dials and controls fascinating. There are storage cubbies under the rear mat, one contains puncture tools I think but the other is unused. I thought the puncture kit went into the boot but the package seems to fit the space it's in perfectly. Row three is still pretty good for space and leg room with the seats up. The seat raising procedure is so simple and I wish my old Zafira had used it. You just grab the handle, lift and up they pop. No moving row 2 as far forward as possible, having to loosen child seats or get everyone out of the car... Without the row 3 seats the boot space is very decent but even with the rear seats up the boot is usuable. My old Zafira was extremely tight with all 7 seats up. There are 12v sockets all over the passenger space so my kids can plug in phone chargers and their various games consoles - ideal. Although I have driven a fully loaded Zafira some 180 miles to the coast (with a trailer for luggage and all the baby stuff) and it wasn't an overly painful journey these cars aren't really intended to move 7 adults on long journeys. They are really for family use with some younger kids using row 3 or occasional 7 seat use. You'd be looking at a Ford Galaxy or a Seat Alhambra for real 7 seat use - perhaps even the big VW 8 seater. So to be fair these cars do a good job with limited space and the Citroen does better than most.

Controls and Tech.

The controls on the steering wheel look hugely complicated but actually as you start to use them they become quite simple to use. I was worried about the touchscreen controls but actually they aren't something you use a lot. The touchscreen has 8 "panels", most of which are for setting up the various functions that the car has such as screen colours, screen styles, audio features, media storage, mobile connectivity and parking or driving aids that can be disabled. The ones I expect to use frequently are the media player, heating and sat nav. The heating controls are a bit fiddly as you will need to access the panel with one button and then adjust the temperature by repeatedly lowering the degree button. Again with fan speed you have to press a fan icon to the fan speed you want. I don't imagine I will be changing temperatures very often while driving though. The sat nav isn't often used while driving, most times it is set before you drive and left to run. So I don't imagine that is going to be much of a distraction either. The media player is well laid out and mine has been set up with the radio stations that I use in a list. Some are DAB and the DAB signal where I live is weak but it resorts to the FM version where it can if the signal is too poor. Reception and clarity are good although I need to be near a town to get most DAB stations. Aside from the AM/FM/DAB radio it also plays digital music in most common formats either through streaming the mobile phone via A2DP (bluetooth streaming), from a pendrive in one of the USB ports or from music copied onto the internal 8GB "jukebox" storage. I found loading the jukebox from a pendrive very slow. I've also set up the mobile connectivity panel. It pairs with your bluetooth mobile and uploads the contact list (with pictures if you have them on your phone) and will keep a short history to return calls etc. The pairing sticks so as it detects the bluetooth on your phone it automatically connects. The great bit is that both the media centre and mobile phone can be controlled from the steering wheel controls. Media can be brought up on screen, selected and played by album or track. The phone works similarly. You select a contact from the screen by pressing call on the steering wheel and it dials for you. You can control most of the phone functions through the steering wheel controls. I found this stuff quite surprisingly easy, it just needs a few goes to get used to it.

The main display does show a *lot* of information but I found quite quickly I learned where to find the info I needed as I needed it. The computer shows trip info with additional instantaneous info (mpg, miles left till fuel needed and ongoing trip). Everything is clear and actually the display seems very well thought out. There are alarms for seatbelts, open doors, no handbrake set when there should be and instructions of what you should do when you get things wrong (it even refuses to start if certain safety measures aren't met). It isn't anywhere near as scary as I first thought.

Engine (eHDI 115)

The engine is quite quiet for a diesel, with little of the rattle you expect although it's clearly a diesel. It's surprisingly powerful especially as it's a 1.6 in quite a large body. It doesn't rev very high and combined with the ETG6 semi auto gearbox it encourages quite a sedate style of driving that seems to give great mpg. The ETG6 gearbox is definitely a little lumpier than a standard auto and gear changes can seem a little slow. I think i'm learning the gearbox as you start to feel the changes and I generally ease off a touch - it makes changes much smoother. All the same I can understand comments I've read about pulling out into moving traffic. There is sometimes a little hesitation and I'd be worried about going for a gap in a hurry although if you do put your foot down it will rev up and change up later. When overtaking you can put your foot right down and it changes down the appropriate number of gears and goes like a rocket - it can be surprisingly quick when needed. I think there is plenty of power and torque but there is a 150bhp variant although testers seem to like it less than the 115bhp one.

I haven't noticed any problems with steering or suspension. Clearly it's no sports car and there is some lean when cornering especially at speed. I noticed it going from the M40 onto the M25 where the road has significant bends and a 50 limit. It grips very well despite a bit of lean. It doesn't feel overly soft but the suspension does ease the bumps that are all over our local roads. I guess it does what it's meant to given the cars role - MPV.

Niggles

The car feels solid and most of the interior feels high quality. Some of the plastics are just nasty - the sun visor is horrible and the lower plastics feel a bit cheap. The storage in the front isn't great and the seats aren't really as good as they could be - weight saving perhaps. The gearbox and ride are not as good as the Ford S-Max but then again in terms of Motability it has a much cheaper advance payment - and I don't think even the Titanium (£300 higher AP) will give you many of the features of the Citroen or quite as good rear space (my older kids found the S-Max row 3 a bit tight on knees).

Overall I'm delighted with the car. Some of the goodies (reversing camera, parking sensors) are very useful if you have limited mobility, cruise control is nice for comfort on a motorway, you sit quite high up so it's easy to get in and out, the steering is quite light and gets heavier with speed there is a lot of lighting to be had inside and immediately outside with puddle lights etc. Fuel economy is amazing, on this new tight engine I'm so far averaging 58mpg and I'm not a particularly light foot driver. I estimate I'm using less than half the fuel I would use in my old Zafira 1.6 and that is a considerable saving given diesel is about £1.30 a litre locally and petrol is £1.27.

With my currents needs a new Zafira Tourer with much cheaper advance payment (£750ish) would have done the job but the Citroen is just so much better a car it was worth the extra £500 advance payment. So far so good, lets see how reliability ends up - especially with all the technology in this car...