Citroën SpaceTourer MPV
"The Citroen SpaceTourer offers versatility, efficient engines and a touch of style, but struggles to shrug off its delivery-van origins"
- Generous standard equipment
- 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 is closely related to the Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace. 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 Grand C4 Picasso, the SpaceTourer shouldn’t be too unwieldy to drive.
The SpaceTourer can be chosen in two lengths. 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.
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 53.3mpg in the BlueHDi 150 six-speed manual form we’ve tested.
The most economical engine in the range is the BlueHDi 115, with stop-start technology reducing its fuel consumption to 55.4mpg. CO2 emissions of most SpaceTourer models put them in the £130 yearly road-tax bracket, the exceptions being the BlueHDi 95 manual without stop-start, which demands a £145 payment, and the BlueHDi 180 with Citroen’s EAT6 six-speed automatic gearbox, which will set you back £180 a year.
SpaceTourer insurance groups range from 12 to 18 between the 1.6 and 2.0-litre 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 95 and the most powerful the BlueHDi 180, available only with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
The BlueHDi 115 with the six-speed manual gearbox has a decent amount of punch and feels flexible, pulling smoothly and progressively from low engine speeds. The gearshift is accurate and easy, although it doesn’t feel as good as that of the Volkswagen Caravelle.
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 we still think it's 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 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 is 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 are fitted, and the surfwear brand's emblems finish things off. Inside, the dashboard is 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 are 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.
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 disappointing 25th out of 26 marques scrutinised in the most recent edition. 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 EuroNCAP. 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.
Price, value for money & options
The Citroen SpaceTourer doesn’t come cheap – the Rip Curl starts at over £34,000. but it’s a well-equipped way of carrying up to nine people in a simple, fuss-free package with a good degree of comfort. It’s spacious, economical and can be made very luxurious with a few choice picks from the extensive options list or by picking a model from the top of the range.
As the SpaceTourer is aimed particularly at taxi and transport companies, it’s being marketed at a price that makes sense for business – whether it stands up to financial scrutiny for family buyers will depend on individual circumstances.
However, this kind of vehicle is far from new. The Mercedes V-Class, Hyundai i800 and Volkswagen Caravelle all aim to achieve the same goal, and Ford sells a Transit-based Tourneo which is very popular with transport companies. Citroen’s addition to the ranks gives customers another choice, and there’s no denying that it’s a good-looking one.