In November, the Irish Motoring Writers' Association voted the five-seat Citroën C4 Picasso Continental Irish Car of the Year 2014. Now, the seven-seat 'Grand' version has gone on sale. Citroën Ireland says that the bigger machine will make up roughly 70% of Picasso sales.

Built on the EMP2 platform, Grand C4 Picasso is 100kg lighter and roughly the same length as the outgoing car, but the wheelbase is much longer (2.84m). This means there is now more interior space.

The Picasso and Citroën connection dates from the 1960s when the great Spanish artist painted The Wreaths of Peace along the side of a Citroën DS that was being used by a young Mexican reporter, Manuel Mejido, who was trying to get a story from the great man. The car was sold shortly afterwards by the impoverished writer to a gallery in France for around $6,000. Soon after the sale the DS vanished and its whereabouts to this day are unknown - now wouldn't that be some 'barn find'!

Citroën's first 'Picasso', the Xsara, came along in 1999. The five-seater was hardly a work of art but the next effort was much better. The 2006 Grand C4 Picasso was styled by Donato Coco, and with a name like that it had to look good! The latest, Fréderic Soubirou-designed Grand C4 Picasso has moved styling forward again. We still prefer the five-seat C4 Picasso's exterior design but as seven-seat machines go, the French MPV is very handsome.

Inside the 'loft-inspired' cabin is a spacious and bright place to be, thanks in no small part to the standard giant panoramic windscreen. If you opt for the glass roof there is a whopping 5.7m2 glazed area! The floor is now 20mm lower. As with the standard Picasso, a host of new technology is available via the two centrally-mounted touch-screen displays (seven and 12-inch). Basically, inside is a hi-tech, comfortable, airy place to be that families will enjoy.

Grand C4 Picasso also gets a bigger boot. When configured as a five-seater there is 645 litres of boot space (an increase of 69 litres). Slide the three individual middle seats forward and there is up to 793 litres of space. Fold the seats down and there is up to 2,181 litres of room. Should you need to load a nine-foot-long plank (2.75m) into the Grand C4 Picasso and close the composite wrap-around tailgate you can do that too!

Grand C4 Picasso ticks the box for safety having scored highly in Euro NCAP crash testing. CO2 and, more importantly, NOX emissions (the really bad stuff that comes out of exhausts) have been greatly reduced.

If you want fuel economy, Citroën says the eHDi 90hp 'Airdream' can average 3.8l/100km (74mpg), while delivering a sub-100g/CO2 figure. Prices start at €26,795 and rise through four trim levels (VTR, VTR+, Exclusive and Exclusive+) to €39,395.

The driving experience is improved, thanks to the EMP2 platform, revised electric power steering, better engine and steering damping and the car's now-lower centre of gravity.

Grand C4 Picasso is a handsome and versatile machine.

Michael Sheridan