Citroën SpaceTourer MPV review
"The Citroen SpaceTourer offers versatility, efficient engines and a touch of style, but struggles to shrug off its delivery-van origins"
- Electric version available
- Economical for its size
- Huge interior space
- Obviously van-derived
- Rather noisy in the back
- Limited boot space with all seats up
Sometimes, when more than five people need to travel together, even a big MPV doesn’t quite do the job. Now, the Citroen SpaceTourer seeks to satisfy the needs of the larger travelling group, competing with the Mercedes V-Class and Volkswagen Caravelle in the luxury minibus market.
In common with those two, the Citroen finds its basis in a commercial vehicle, in this case the latest Citroen Dispatch van, which in turn shares some parts with the Peugeot 3008 and Citroen C4 SpaceTourer MPVs. Changes to the bumpers and headlights distinguish the SpaceTourer from its hard-working sister models and, when fitted with alloy wheels, the big Citroen actually looks quite fetching.
While the idea of your ‘luxury’ transport being essentially a van with windows isn’t the most appealing thought, some reassurance can be derived from the fact that vans like those are designed to work hard and prove reliable, while being cost-effective to operate. Plus, as the chassis of the Dispatch has a lot in common with that of the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer, the SpaceTourer and is impressively car-like to drive for a van-based model.
Engines include three diesel options or an all-electric powertrain, shared with models like the Peugeot e-2008. The BlueHDi diesels have 118bhp, 142bhp or 175bhp and return around 40mpg, while the 134bhp electric motor is connected to a 50kWh battery for a driving range of up to 148 miles, and badged e-SpaceTourer.
The SpaceTourer can be chosen in two lengths, while the e-SpaceTourer is only offered in the shorter version. The M is a shade under five metres and the lengthy XL stretches a full 5.3 metres – this version allowing up to nine passengers to stretch out in comfort. Family buyers are served by Feel trim, which is designed to be hard-wearing and as versatile as possible. Those in the hunt for more comfort might be inclined to try the Business model, while a version named for and inspired by Australian surfing brand Rip Curl brings an injection of style inside and out, as well as more luxurious interior appointments.
The Citroen SpaceTourer is a practical MPV that's quiet and good to drive but heavy seats mean some owners will need a helping hand and a garage if they want to change its seating layout. The e-SpaceTourer has many advantages but its relatively small battery pack means it’s not suited to long distances and it's quite expensive.
MPG, running costs & CO2
With vans like the Dispatch having to work for a living, Citroen is keen that its commercial vehicles should be as efficient as possible. This trickles down handily to the SpaceTourer, which returns up to 39.8mpg in the BlueHDi 145 and 180.
The most economical engine in the range is the BlueHDi 120, with stop-start technology reducing its fuel consumption to 44.1mpg. CO2 emissions of most SpaceTourer models put them in the £150 annual road-tax bracket, the exception being the e-SpaceTouer's zero emissions, which means it’s exempt.
With a 50kWh battery, the e-SpaceTourer can manage up to 148 miles from a full charge, which may sound a little on the short side but should be adequate for most owners. Firms using the e-SpaceTourer in cities where there's lots of congestion should find it can perform lots of shuttle runs before needing a top-up, and it can be fast charged at up to 100kW at a public charger. Citroen has partnered with Pod Point to offer buyers an 11kW or 7.4kW home wallbox, charging the battery in under five or 3.5 hours respectively.
The e-SpaceTourer isn't cheap but it does come with some big advantages, including much lower Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) liability than the diesels and free access to low emissions zones like central London, along with some other perks for EVs such as cheaper maintenance.
SpaceTourer insurance groups range from 12 to 18 between the diesel models, and routine servicing can be performed by any official Citroen workshop. The car is also covered by the same three-year warranty as all other new Citroens in the UK.
Engines, drive & performance
Thanks to a chassis closely related to those of other, more car-like Citroens, the SpaceTourer really doesn’t feel as awkward and bulky to drive as you might expect. The M version feels manageably sized and you can thread it confidently down twisting country roads without fear of what its extremities are up to.
The raised driving position is helpful, providing a commanding view of the road ahead and making it easier to place the car in corners. It also has an impressively tight turning circle and is a lot easier to park than you might think. The steering is light, too, although this leads to it feeling somewhat vague on the open road.
The SpaceTourer copes well with bumpy, broken roads. Citroen claims that the Dispatch van’s suspension has been comprehensively retuned for passenger duties and our experience seems to confirm that.
Every engine for the SpaceTourer is a diesel, the least powerful being a BlueHDi 120 that's only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox, while the BlueHDi 145 and 180 get an automatic as standard.
The BlueHDi 120 with the six-speed manual gearbox takes 12 seconds to get from 0-62mph, and has a top speed of 99mph. The gearshift is accurate and easy, although it doesn’t feel as good as that of the Volkswagen Caravelle.
With 134bhp and instant torque, the e-SpaceTourer feels punchy around town. The fact it's relatively narrow also means it feels no more unwieldy to drive than an SUV, and it's pleasantly quiet apart from the odd clunk from the suspension. A driving mode called ‘B’ increases the amount of energy harvested while decelerating but it's not quite strong enough for one-pedal driving.
Those who expect to encounter tricky road conditions would be wise to add the Grip Control system, which is standard on the Rip Curl model. It combines a set of extra-grippy tyres with special settings in the traction control system to ease your progress on sand, mud or snow. The system is also seen on Citroen and Peugeot SUVs, where it provides extra agility on poor surfaces without resorting to economy-sapping four-wheel drive.
Interior & comfort
Citroen maintains that it has added sound-deadening to the SpaceTourer’s interior to lessen the van-with-windows effect somewhat, but diesel versions are still somewhat noisy to travel in – a shame given how smooth the ride is. It does feel at least one step up from a typical delivery van, though, with a nicely finished dashboard and an impressive list of standard equipment.
You can choose a seven-inch widescreen display for controlling the DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay systems, and it also accesses a TomTom-based 3D navigation system. All models have cruise control and a USB port, as well as more practical features including parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and ISOFIX child-seat mountings. Hill-start assistance makes rural progress easier, too.
The passenger compartment is treated to a central overhead console, incorporating outlets for the air-conditioning system, as well as ambient lighting similar to what you might get on a private jet, while sunblinds, seatback trays and power sockets are also provided.
The doors and boot can be opened using the Hands-Free Access facility, while the rear windscreen can be opened independently of the rest of the tailgate in situations where space is limited, such as an enclosed parking space. The sliding side doors can be motorised, too.
The Rip Curl model was the most distinctive in the range, set aside from other SpaceTourers by black door mirrors and rubbing strips, with rear privacy glass as standard. Special 17-inch wheels were fitted, and the surfwear brand's emblems finish things off. Inside, the dashboard was engraved with a laser-etched design and there's a 3.5-inch colour display in the centre of the instrument cluster. A seven-inch touchscreen, colour head-up display and keyless entry were also standard.
Practicality & boot space
While not being the most imaginatively designed interior environment, the passenger compartment of the medium-length SpaceTourer does at least offer plenty of space – even the tallest passengers can expect plenty of legroom, while there’s plenty of head and shoulder room, too.
As is often the case with vehicles like this, there’s a compromise to be made between passenger and luggage space. With all three rows of seats in situ, there’s a pretty minimal area left for loads. However, if the third row is folded down, the SpaceTourer gets closer to resembling a van again, with a total of 2,381 litres of luggage capacity, rising to a massive 2,932 litres in the XL version.
It's worth noting that truly transforming the SpaceTourer requires removing the rear seats, and they're rather heavy. Some will find it easier to do this with two people, and you'll also need somewhere to store the seats when they aren't in use. The large rear tailgate can also be a bit awkward to open and close in confined spaces, or for anyone who isn't very tall.
Reliability & safety
Van origins mean you can expect the SpaceTourer to be robust and easy to repair. Our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey has never covered the Citroen Dispatch before, but we’d like to think the SpaceTourer will make a showing as its popularity grows.
The SpaceTourer has yet to feature in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but the Citroen brand itself came a somewhat disappointing 18th out of 30 marques scrutinised in our 2020 results. Considering that Citroen expects the SpaceTourer to become popular with private-hire companies and upmarket hotels, reliability should be high on the agenda, but 15.6% of Citroen owners who participated in our survey reported at least one fault in the first year of ownership.
There are no such worries over the safety of the SpaceTourer: it has already been awarded a full five-star rating after independent crash-testing by Euro NCAP. This takes into account the impressive list of crash-preventing measures the Citroen features – including autonomous emergency braking that activates if it senses an oncoming hazard.
Lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, road-sign recognition and driver drowsiness monitor are other features designed to improve safety on long journeys – as is the active cruise control.