The problem with vehicles touting the benefits of third-row seating is, in truth, third-row seating is only fit for either a dog or a cat. Very obviously the latter is a deliberately throw away statement, put another way third-row seating should be called child-friendly seating. If you really do want a true people carrier then you go for the MPV option, Citroen do this and they call it the Space Tourer and what better way to test this van-not-a-van then heading on down to the South of France, this is what motoring journalists are paid to do folks, all expenses paid trip to drive a vehicle so you don’t have to.
The Space Tourer is kind-of-like the consumer version of the Citroen Dispatch van, both are based on the Citroen C4 Picasso which resides on Peugeot’s unified modular platform. All in all the Space Tourer is an MPV that is effectively based on a car chassis.
So that means the Space Tourer shares a decent suspension setup, supposedly more car-like than van-like. Its available in three body sizes XS, M, and XL (Literally small, medium and large) and with three model trims, Business, Combi, and Flair.
Standard equipment is good and the choice of engines include power derivatives of the 1.6-litre diesel and or 2.0-litre diesel with either a 6-speed manual or automatic, dependent on spec.
The Space Tourer XS test vehicle is the top of the range model, so its fully loaded in terms of equipment, heads-up display, blind spot monitoring, cruise control, Park Assist, Keyless entry and Apple Play/Android Auto, OK infotainment system, USB this and start that and the list goes on.
The interior was decked out in leather, but in truth, it still feels like a van, the interior trim such as the door panels, dash area is made of the scratchy plastic derivative. But it’s well made and well screwed together, however, the van origins are omnipresent.
The short wheelbase looks deceptively small from the outside until you get into the driver’s side seat, peer down and suddenly realise that every other car on the road looks small. You sit at the same height as a Range Rover, vehicles such as the Volvo XC90, which is a big vehicle, appears small from within the Space Tourer.
And when you get behind the wheel you suddenly realise all the primary and secondary controls seem a bit further away then you would like, you have to stretch and reach a little bit further if you are over 6-foot then this should be too much of an issue.
But for those slightly under 6-foot even operating the infotainment system and operating the gear lever seems to be an arms-length away, so ergonomically very tall people will like the Space Tourers size.
For those of average height it means your driving position is compromised you seem to sit further forward and back at the same time, the clutch and brake pedals feel small and the clutch pedal has a long travel so in normal resting position the clutch pedal sits quite high so your feet feel uncomfortably sprawled and tangled.
Rather bizarrely you get used to the driving position. However, the leather seats are really comfortable so a 4-hour round trip is no issue at all despite the driving position.
Then there is the gap between the driver and passenger seat, normally in a SUV this void would be filled by the extension of the central console. With the empty space, there is nowhere to put odds & sods and it relays the feeling of being in a van.
Being an MPV peoples carrier dynamism isn’t at the top of the list, it grips well, and while the adaptive shock absorbers do a good job at motorway cruising speeds at low speeds, the suspension bounces over speed-bumps and potholes feel as though a grendae has been denoted.
The 2.0-litre diesel, 4-cylinder engine is tried, tested and trusted, it does a decent job of shifting the weight but the Space Tourer isn’t in anyway spritely of the line. However, its got plenty of low to mid-range torque which is more important than outright BHP, especially so for a van.
I only ever manage 39mpg on a combined run, never less never more and I adopted a conservative driving style, easy on the throttle no drag racing off the line. It always returned 39mpg. Which is OK.
On the plus side, there is plenty of room within, the rear passenger seats can fit up to 8 people and the seats can be configured in a number of ways or removed entirely which allows the Space Tourer a brief return to its van origins even though the panoramic glass sunroof says otherwise, I mean you don’t find a sunroof in a van.
With the seats removed, the load space is huge it’s over two meters in length huge and many thousands of litres in capacity huge even in the short-wheel body model spec.
Prices for the Space Tourer start at £25k for the entry-level model, the top of the range Flair starts at £38k with optional extras such as Driver assist, 17-inch alloys + Grip Control (a type of traction control) the total cost for the test car was £40k, options included.
That’s a lot of money to pay for van derivative positioning the Space Tourer fairly close to Range Rover Velar territory. But the Space Tourer customer base is probably different to an aspiring Velar owner, you will probably see them as Airport runabouts or taxis and perhaps ideal for large families.
Obviously, if you go for the lower spec model then you get the space but not the equipment levels, at this point, the Space Tourer becomes adaptable as an everyday proposition.