I DON’T mind saying it. I’m a bit slower than I used to be.
Not in the sense that I’m no longer any good at the brainteasers Channel 4 chucks at me during the commercial breaks on Countdown or that I no longer know how many were going to St Ives – but that it takes longer to cover ground, no matter what the car. Regardless of whether I’m in a Suzuki Celerio or the new McLaren Speedtail, the age of 50mph average speed restrictions that go on for ten miles at a time have seen to that.
Not that it matters one jot, because speed isn’t the luxury it used to be. Do the one percent jet across the globe in three hours on Concorde? Nope, because these days they can do it overnight in an A380 first class cabin that’s better equipped than most hotel suites. The sleeper trains to Cornwall and the Scottish Highlands have been kitted out with more upmarket furnishings because the operators know plenty of folk are happy to fork out for the hotel-on-rails experience. Making the journey more enjoyable, rather than quicker, is where the smart money is these days.
Which is probably why I emerged from Citroen’s latest C4 Picasso with a content smile the other day. It might be a distant relative of the Peugeot 5008 that I tried a few months ago, but unlike that car it doesn’t pretend to be a chunky off-roader – this unashamedly sets out its stall as a people carrier, and feels all the better for it.
Nope it’s not the most razor-edge family bus through the corners but it handles capably enough, with the reward instead being a soft, supple ride. Visibility is excellent – no turgid, safety-paranoid A-pillars here – and the full-length panoramic glass roof makes it feel like something like out of Grand Designs inside. You can slide the sun visor mountings back into the headlining too, to give you even more light through that massive windscreen.
Kevin McCloud would approve of how avantgarde and well appointed it is inside too – I love the dashboard plastics and the way all the dials have been moved into a single digital slab on the centre of the dashboard, including a strip-style speedometer reminiscent of what your granddad had in his Rover P6. The seats heat up and give you massages too – and the front passenger one comes with a leg rest not entirely like something you’d get on a living room recliner.
I even like the way it looks – those headlights make it seem like it’s squinting at you with faint disapproval, as if to say you’re an idiot for buying an SUV instead. In fact, the only real chink in its armour is that something this massive really ought to have seven seats – for that you’d need its Grand Picasso sibling, which doesn’t look as good.
So there you go – I’m championing an MPV because I think it’s a bit of a looker. Maybe I am a bit slower than I used to be…