Citroen's internationally acclaimed Grand C4 Picasso has arrived in Australia. It is a finalist in the 2014 World Car of the Year awards and a quick glance at the spec sheet gives a hint as to why.
Available here in the "Exclusive" trim level only, the sleek new seven-seater has a 360deg. camera, blind-spot monitoring, 12-inch panoramic high-definition screen, seven-inch touch screen and tyre pressure monitoring all as standard.
Any concerns about parallel or reverse parking a bigger vehicle are allayed by the self-parking feature, also standard, which will guide you into a space.
There's a price to pay for all of these perks, though.
The tag of $43,990 is $4500 more than the top-spec Seduction HDI in the current range, although Citroen counters that by claiming it has added $9000 worth of features.
There is scope to add more bling should you desire. For those looking for more tech, there's also a drive-assist package which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a smart-beam function which automatically activates or deactivates the high-beams depending on lighting and traffic conditions. It will add another $2000 to the price, while other extras include an electric tailgate, directional bi-Xenon headlights and part or full-leather seats.
One look at the accompanying photos and you'll see Citroen hasn't held back design-wise. It has a flowing, finely sculpted body and, when combined with the streamlined front fascia (with a grille that recalls the guy from Star Trek: The Next Generation with the cool glasses), the new people mover is arguably the best looking in its class.
The changes continue inside. Most notable up front is a pair of screens. A 12-inch panoramic high-definition screen shows driver info such as vehicle updates, navigation and driving aids including the 360deg. camera.
The second display is a seven- inch touch screen used to control in-car functions such as climate control and media.
Space has been improved too. The Picasso hasn't grown any longer (it's still 4600mm) but a longer wheelbase has added 55mm of knee room in the second row and 16mm in the back.
Boot space has increased by 69 litres to 645 litres, which grows to 700 litres with the second-row seats moved all the way forward.
The Grand C4 Picasso shapes as an important one for Citroen not just because of its stylistic changes but because of what's underneath. It has a new 110kW/370Nm 2.0-litre diesel engine - dubbed BlueHDi - which meets tight Euro 6 emission levels.
When paired with a new six-speed automatic gearbox, stop/start technology and the fact the new vehicle has lost 100kg from its predecessor, it ends up with a super-frugal fuel usage of just 4.5L/100km - an improvement of 2.3L/100km on the outgoing model.
Also of note is that this is the first Citroen in Australia to sit on the company's new Efficient Modular Platform 2 - EMP2 for short - which will underpin all compact and mid-sized vehicles from Peugeot and Citroen in the coming years, be they passenger cars, people movers, SUVs or even light commercials.
Should the platform succeed and the styling advancements continue in future models, the Grand C4 Picasso could be seen as a key model for the advancement of the French company in this country.
CITROEN GRAND C4 PICASSO
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic