Wednesday 26 June 2019

This Citroen tourer is a grand effort all round

'Grand tourer' and 'GT' usually are misused terms in motoring, writes Martin Brennan

LUXURY: Citroen C4 Spacetourer, grand touring modern style
LUXURY: Citroen C4 Spacetourer, grand touring modern style

Tourer is a word car companies throw at us when hinting they have something special to offer, but it is not often the case.

Once upon a time, there were grand tourers, GT models, which really stood for something if you were lucky enough to own one. Now we have GTS (sports) GTRS (racing), etc so GT doesn't stand for that much. So forget the grand tourer badging and look to the future of grand luxurious travel - now we have a Spacetourer, reaching a new level comfort for an entire family on long-haul journeys.

"Grand tourer" and "GT" are among the most misused terms in motoring. The grand touring designation generally means motoring at speed, in style, safety and comfort. But many modern GTs just have body kits, spoilers, go-faster stripes or even a set of headlights that did not come from the factory on the base model.

According to Collins English Dictionary, GT in motoring terms is an abbreviation for the Italian 'Gran Turismo', a high-performance luxury sports car with a hard fixed roof, designed for covering long distances.

The original GT cars were produced in the early 20th Century by Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lancia and gained popularity as the horseless carriage invention changed lifestyles. For the first time, people could travel long distances for nothing more than pleasure and adventure. Cars that the well-heeled favoured to travel across the continent brought models that changed the design of the car and they became much more attuned to luxury, comfort and safety, not just utility.

But those swingers of the pioneering days of grand motoring who considered luxury as having a holder for the brandy flask, two wipers, and two suitcases strapped to the boot, with two spare tyres attached, would scarcely believe what they were seeing through their goggles if they could be transported into today's level of grand touring.

Citroen has a C4 Spacetourer (smallish), a C4 Grand Spacetourer (bigger), a Multispace (smaller) and the daddy of them all, the Spacetourer, which comes as a Dispatch Combi, a Business class vehicle and its take on the old top-of-the-range "GT" designation is the "Feel" version, which comes in short, medium and long wheelbase, depending on the size of your budget and your family.

This vehicle will do everything the dashing men and women of yesteryear never dreamed of as they climbed into their two or four-seater cramped models where two pairs of socks and cashmere scarves stood for heating. Here you get grey and blue 'Yumi" cloth trim, height-adjustable driver's seat, armrests, three benches of seats with sliding and folding function, and dual zone central heating, which is the norm today in a vehicle where passengers can lounge and read their iPads.

Powered by a 115bhp BlueHDi S&S 1.5l diesel engine with 137g/km Co2 (€280 road tax) and fuel consumption hovering in the region of 5L/100km (with a light load), the Spacetourer irons out road surfaces reasonably well, with a slight roll on corners if approached at speed.

Rear seat passengers enjoy the additional air conditioning in the rear, the aircraft-style tray tables on the back of the front seats and the privacy glass on the second and third row of seats. Electric sliding rear doors make getting on board easy and there is a child observation mirror.

The cockpit is stylish and the driver gets lots of driving aids such as rear parking sensors, a 7-inch touchscreen, automatic lights, and an additional safety pack is available. The ex-works price is €40,175.

Sunday Independent

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