Citroen Grand C4 Picasso vs Renault Grand Scenic vs Peugeot 5008
Family affair We pit the closely matched (from left) Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Renault Grand Scenic and Peugeot 5008 against one another to find the best. -- PHOTOS: TAN MENG CHOO

The French are renowned for making stylish but quirky cars. They are also well-known for producing multi-purpose vehicles that are spacious yet do not appear van-like.

The three Gallic models here are closely matched, with each seven-seater powered by a turbodiesel that is punchy and economical.

Looking sharper than their predecessors are the updated 5008, Peugeot's most popular people mover, and the 5008's cousin from sister company Citroen: the all-new Grand C4 Picasso.

Targeting the pragmatic family man with an artistic streak, the latter offers plenty of features and lots of space.

Eager to display its Parisian flair, too, is the Renault Grand Scenic, which has had a face-lift. Apart from its revised exterior that now sports the carmaker's latest brand identity, it boasts improvements to the cockpit plus a slick powertrain.

Which of these will the average Singaporean family say "oui" to?

METERS AND STEERING

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Prettiest instrument cluster of the three, but the amount of information displayed can be overwhelming. Steering wheel controls are the most comprehensive, while the helm requires the least effort to turn.

Peugeot 5008

Analogue gauges are the least attractive, but the easiest to read. Steering wheel controls are located behind and hence the least convenient to use, but the helm provides the best feel and accuracy on the move.

Renault Grand Scenic

Most cramped instrument cluster and the hardest to read, but has variable colour themes like the Citroen. Steering-wheel surface has the nicest grip, while the helm offers the best balance between comfort and connection.

ENGINE AND GEARBOX

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Citroen's 1.6-litre turbodiesel with 115bhp and 270Nm is the most refined and fuel-efficient motor here. The six-speed automated manual is smoother than the Peugeot's, but less snappy in manual-override mode.

Peugeot 5008

Peugeot's 1.6-litre turbodiesel with 112bhp and 270Nm is identical to the Citroen's, but slightly weaker and thirstier. Six-speed automated manual is the trio's least refined gearbox because of its palpable shift-shock.

Renault Grand Scenic

Renault's 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 110bhp and 240Nm loses to the others in terms of power, economy and acceleration. But its dual-clutch six-speeder beats them in terms of transmission smoothness and responsiveness.

AUDIO AND AIR-CON

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Infotainment screen is the most a la mode, but it is the slowest in loading up. Air-conditioner is also rather slow in responding to change in settings.

Peugeot 5008

Infotainment is the most user-friendly and its audio output is the punchiest, too. Air-con controls look the most dated, but the system's cooling power is strongest.

Renault Grand Scenic

Controls are the least intuitive and radio reception is the most static-prone. Air-con is the least powerful, but it is the only system with the flexibility of "Soft" and "Fast" fan speed settings.

COCKPIT

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Being the only vehicle here with additional A-pillar glass panes, bright high-intensity discharge headlights and a blind spot monitor, it offers the best visibility. Its front seats are also the cushiest of the bunch.

Peugeot 5008

Compact cockpit feels the sportiest of the lot, thanks to its high centre console and aircraft-inspired head-up display. Its doorbins are the biggest, but it is the only contender that lacks the convenience of keyless entry/ignition.

Renault Grand Scenic

Relatively low floor makes entry and egress the easiest, but this cockpit is the least relaxing for long drives as its footrest is the narrowest and its storage points are the smallest.

SECOND ROW

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Best second row for taller occupants as it is the most spacious. Passengers will appreciate the airliner-style tray tables more than in the other cabins because they come with elastic bands to hold things in place.

Peugeot 5008

More suitable for children than grown-ups as headroom is the lowest and the seatbacks the stiffest. Storage points are the most commodious, though.

Renault Grand Scenic

Second-row seats are the most comfy, and the window views are indeed "scenic". But rear air-con vents do not have the fan-speed controls found in the Citroen and Peugeot.

THIRD ROW

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

Like the 5008, accessing the rear-most bench is a piece of cake as the second-row seats can be folded forward in one step. Air-con vents for this area are the only ones with adjustable fan speeds.

Peugeot 5008

Kids will be happiest in the Peugeot's third row, as it is the only one with padded armrests and pull-up sunshades.

Renault Grand Scenic

Less legroom than the rest in this back row. Accessibility is compromised by a two-step folding process of the second row.

BOOT

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

The friendliest trunk, thanks to an electrically operated tailgate, straps for securing loose items, plus a detachable and rechargeable torchlight.

Peugeot 5008

The most useful industrial hauler when required, thanks to a maximum, all-seats-down cargo volume of 2,506 litres, versus the Renault's 2,063 litres and the Citroen's 1,843 litres.

Renault Grand Scenic

The active family would welcome the underfloor storage and lockable compartment. In five-seater configuration, boot space is 564 litres, versus the Peugeot's 679 litres and the Citroen's 645 litres.

CONCLUSION

Renault's enhancements to the Grand Scenic have definitely paid off. The drive is smoother and marginally more economical than before, while the second-row seats are some of the plushest in the MPV business. But to really appeal to families, it needs to have cleaner ergonomics and a roomier third row. After all, even children need their space.

The Peugeot 5008 may be less energetic than its identically engined Citroen cousin, but it makes up for this with its nimbler handling and more eager drivetrain. This sportiness, however, comes at the expense of refinement.

When it comes to cruising comfort for a family of six or seven, the new Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has few peers. Its roomy interior, efficient drivetrain and generous onboard amenities outrank the rest. It is likely to garner the most votes from families.

The writer is with Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

This is an abridged version of an article that appeared in November's Torque.

CAR INFORMATION

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso Diesel 1.6 e-HDi ETG6 INTENSIVE (A)

Price

:$153,988

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,560 cc

Horsepower

:

114 bhp

Torque

:

270 Nm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

12.6 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

189 km/h