Sunday 4 December 2016

Citroen SpaceTourer has room for everything but thrills

Citroën comfort but a van-like drive

Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30

Van-like drive: Space Tourer
Van-like drive: Space Tourer

Some weeks, when I'm driving one of today's smarter-looking cars, I wish I had its equivalent predecessor when I was young and carefree - rather than having to impose on the cousins or coax our Wanderly Wagon Morris Minor to get to dances.

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Apart from more comfortable travelling arrangements, there would have been other upsides in having something a bit more glamorous, I'm sure.

I can't, by any stretch of the imagination, describe the Citroën SpaceTourer as one of the most 'desirable' cars I've driven.

But it still got me thinking about how handy the likes of it would have been for a crowd of us heading off to the Roseland, Moate, or other Ballrooms of Romance.

Tastes and trends have changed massively in the intervening years, of course.

I do know that today there are lots of people looking for cars with more space - for a variety of reasons.

There is serious demand for seven-seaters from families but I'm not sure that many would opt for the eight-seater I had on test (there is also one with nine) because this large MPV is a different sort of buy; families often want seven seats for the occasional use of the third row and the extra luggage capacity when not in use.

But an eight/nine seater of SpaceTourer dimensions is more attuned to extra-large families (obviously) and those who can merge business and/or family requirements. One thing is for sure: they will not be short of space.

Based on a version of the C4 Picasso/Grand Picasso platform, it is one large people/cargo mover. It may not be the most thrilling car you'll ever drive, but I think I can guarantee no one will be elbowing you in the ribs for room either.

Yet I could not understand how, despite all the room elsewhere, they didn't manage to carve out a simple little resting ledge for my left/clutch foot. I know that sounds trifling but it can be mighty uncomfortable over a 200km trip.

While I'm complaining, I might as well also mention there was a fair bit of road and tyre noise - though that is something you've got to expect on vehicles of this size and stature.

Neither was it supple and forgiving over those suburban ripple roads of concrete. And by golly, you really need to be careful when parking it.

Parking spaces are tight at the best of times; many seem to cater for Morris Minor dimensions rather than those of today's average car - but with this, I just about squeezed into a couple of spots.

By and large, however, I could see it being a smart, general-use, multi-purpose motor - and comfortable into the bargain, with seats I regarded as excellent.

Its major brownie points come with what it offers on the inside. The second and third rows split, tilt or fold 1/3-2/3 or slide to give you more leg or luggage room (there isn't that much 'boot' space with all three rows in use). Excellent pliability and easy to do, I found. And you can take them out altogether, if you wish. It wasn't a big deal to do so, though I mostly left the third row flat.

Importantly for the extra-large families I mentioned, there are three ISOFIX mounting points across the second and third rows. That can be a deal maker or breaker for parents but, maybe, not so much for the person who buys it to mix family and business use.

I could see how someone would find it entirely practical to have some of the second and all the third row flattened so they could carry stuff while retaining the flexibility to convey a few passengers as well.

The 115bhp diesel engine plugged away no bother - though, of necessity, I kept the 6spd manual transmission in fifth a lot of the time. I was comfortable and had good visibility.

The idea of side-sliding doors is a big selling point as the space required for passengers/luggage loading and unloading is kept to a minimum - a huge plus in urban areas.

Taken all in all, the SpaceTourer is a big advance (Peugeot and Toyota have new sister versions, too). It works hard at being more car-like and is certainly well equipped and 'connected' (a 7in tablet controls media, phone and navigation functions in a nicely-designed dashboard).

While its flexibility is a big attraction, it is might just be too large for many, who would love the space but not the bulk. You could see it being a good combination, though, for a small enterprise, local taxi, hotel shuttle as well as those extra-large families. And yes, of course, it would also be a great old machine to ferry a group down memory lane to a ballroom of romance somewhere.

Facts & figures

Citroën SpaceTourer large people carrier, XS FEEL trim, 115bhp diesel, 6spd, 133g/km, €280 road tax, claimed 5.1l/100km (55.3mpg). Price from €38,300.

Spec included: cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone air con, 7ins colour touchscreen with eMyWay satnav, dual sliding doors, front electric windows, electric adjustable/foldable mirrors, spare wheel, RDS/DAB digital radio with MirrorLink, reversing camera, parking sensors, rain/dusk sensors.

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