By Jonathan Crouch
Citroen has earned an enviable reputation for its People Carriers and the SpaceTourer sits at the top of that family tree. Though based on the brand's medium-sized Dispatch van, it also shares its EMP2 platform with the French maker's C4 Picasso MPV and that, along with sophisticated suspension, means a supple standard of ride. This model's running cost efficiency also set a fresh class standard from launch and there's a wider variety of seating permutations than many rivals can offer: some SpaceTourers can take as many as nine people. It's all been very thoroughly thought through.
5dr SUV (1.6,1.5 BlueHDi diesel / 2.0 BlueHDi diesel / 50kWh full-Electric [Feel,Business, Flair, Rip Curl]
Citroen has quite a history of producing People Carriers, but it's interesting that looking back over the years, there's been a notable lack of many really big ones, MPVs suitable for business use or really large families. In 2016 though, the marque launched a contender that put that right, this SpaceTourer.
Prior to the arrival of this model, the most sizeable MPV your Citroen dealer could offer you was the Grand C4 Picasso, a model spacious enough in its segment but a car not really designed around the needs of seven adults. Even large segment People Carriers of the day like Ford's Galaxy and Volkswagen's Sharan struggled in that regard if the people in question came with luggage. As indeed did the models that Citroen once offered to compete against these cars - the Synergie that sold between 1995 and 2003 and the C8 that replaced it and was produced until 2010. Ultimately, if you need something properly spacious in this segment, then passenger car-based underpinnings won't really cut it. Instead, you'll need something LCV-based with the boxy proportions of a van. Something like this.
Sure enough, the SpaceTourer was indeed based on a commercial vehicle, the brand's third generation Dispatch van. By 2016, we'd seen Dispatch-based passenger-carrying Citroens before, but they'd been utilitarian minibus models aimed at business users. This one was developed as a much more car-like contender and shared its design with two direct rivals, Peugeot's Traveller and Toyota's Proace Verso, a pair joined shortly afterwards by the also virtually identical Vauxhall Vivaro Life. All four of these MPVs were primarily aimed at the two other van-based People Carriers that back at the end of the 21st century's second decade dominated the super-large segment of the market, Volkswagen's Caravelle and the Mercedes V-Class, both models that in theory, ought to have been fairly easy targets for new entrants in this sector. Though the VW and the Merc were of a size that would take the nine-seat configuration that many potential buyers wanted, the Caravelle was limited to seven seats and the V-Class to eight. Plus in both cases, there was a pretty high asking price to pay for ownership.
In producing an alternative, the easy perception was that all any brand had to do was to glam up a medium-sized van, add some plush seats and give it an appealing sticker price. As manufacturers like Ford and Hyundai found though, there was more to it than that. Customers in this segment want proper passenger car technology and real car-like engineering. This Citroen claimed to be able to provide that, offered appealing prices and, crucially, in its most versatile form could seat up to nine people. It all sounded quite promising, but the SpaceTourer, like its clones, never really sold in any great numbers and combustion diesel versions were phased out in 2022. The full-electric e-SpaceTourer model though (introduced in 2020) continued on. Here, we look at the diesel-engined SpaceTourer as a used buy.
What You Get
Look at the class leaders in the super-large van-based MPV segment and it's clear that a lot of effort has been put in to distance the designs in question from their LCV underpinnings. Which is why Citroen put so much work in here to create the smart - and in some ways actually quite attractive - silhouette of this SpaceTourer model.
The 1.9m height of the long flat roof is important - it means this model can fit under normal car park height restrictions. And the length is critical too. Don't automatically assume that a super-large MPV like this has to be super-long from bonnet to rear bumper. From launch, one of the body style options with this model was a relatively compact 4.6m-long 'XS' body shape that actually measures in at around 250mm shorter than car-derived MPVs like Ford's Galaxy or Volkswagen's Sharan. Most SpaceTourer buyers though, will want the extra interior room of the 4.95m-long 'M' version, plus there's also a 5.3m-long 'XL' option if you really want to super-size things. The range was rationalised down to 'M' and 'XL' versions shortly after launch.
What about boot space? Well the room you in the cargo area with all three rows of seats in place obviously varies depending on the body style you've chosen. With the most popular mid-range 'M' body shape, there's 627mm of length from the back of the third seating row to the tailgate, which means you get 640-litres of cargo space up to the level of the load bay cover - or as much as 900-litres if you were to load to the roof. A lot of the time of course, you'll be using this Citroen with only five seats in place. If on the 'M' model, you fold the third row backrest onto the seat base, you'll increase loading capacity to 1,100-litres - or 1,950-litres loading up to roof height. Finally, let's cover the capacity you'd get when you only need the front two seats. In the 'M' model with second and third row backrests folded onto their bases, you'd have 2,000-litres of space up to parcel shelf level and 3,000-litres up to roof height. If you were to entirely take the second and third row seating out, those figures would each rise by 1,200-litres.
Enough on luggage space: what's this Citroen like for people? Let's start up-front. Most SpaceTourers sold here were 'Business'-trimmed variants, which didn't get the option of a dual front passenger bench so that three people could be accommodated up-front. That's a rare feature to find in a SpaceTourer. Across the range, the fascia's focal point is found with a centrally-situated 7-inch colour touchscreen which includes a 'Mirror Screen' feature, so you can duplicate your smartphone's display onto the monitor via either the 'Apple CarPlay' or the 'MirrorLink' 'Android Auto' systems. In the second row, where you get ample knee, shoulder and head room, there's a three-person rear bench that'll have a 60:40 split in it. On most models, the seats are mounted on rails so can slide backwards and forwards - though not individually: the middle seat will be joined to one of the outer ones.
Most SpaceTourers were sold with a third seating row and once you get to that, you'll find that the outer passenger-side seat lifts and tilts forward to aid access, something further aided by the provision of higher roofline than you'd find in something like a Sharan or a Galaxy. Once you're in the third row, you'll be reminded just why medium-sized vans make such a great starting point for a properly large family-sized MPV. Instead of being crammed in cattle-class, as you would be in even the largest car-based People Carriers, there's more than enough space here for arms, legs and heads.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Look particularly closely for dents and scratches around the bodywork given that the car will have been driven to places where it will be easy to pick these up. And inspect the interior for child and luggage damage and make sure that the upholstery and the carpets aren't stained. Make sure that all the screens and media connectivity systems work as they should. And of course insist on a fully stamped up service history.
Our focus here is on issues with the diesel engined models. With these, there are a number of product recalls you need to know about. In some models built in 2018, the plug in the sump that the engine uses to drain oil out during a service might be loose, allowing oil to leak out. In some models made between 2020 and 2021, the AdBlue liquid injection system may struggle in extremely low temperatures. And models produced between 2020 and 2022 had an issue with the fuel line coming into contact with the bodywork and plastic parts - which can lead to fuel leakage. In some of the last models produced in 2022, the high voltage wiring harness may be defective - which could result in increased risk of fire. There was a problem in models produced between 2019 2020 with the rear seat adjustment lever. For models produced in 2020, there was also an issue with wheel bolts. And in models produced in 2021, there was an issue with head rests on the front modular seat on 9-seaters. Make sure that with the version you're looking at, these recall issues have been addressed by a dealer.
(approx based on a 2020 SpaceTourer 2.0 BlueHDi 150 excl. VAT) Expect to pay around £4 for an oil filter, around £13 for an air filter and around £5-£23 for a pair of wiper blades. Front brake pads cost around £29 for a set; rear pads are in the £22 bracket. For front brake discs, think around £82 for a pair; rear discs cost in the £73-£110 bracket. A starter motor costs in the £60-£140 bracket. A fuel filter is around £20.
On the Road
The SpaceTourer is an MPV based on a van that's built on Citroen's 'EMP2' family car platform. As a result, this large People Carrier rides over poor road surfaces with a calm and composure that most of its commercial vehicle-derived rivals can't match. Helping in this regard is a suspension design using adaptive shock absorbers that provide excellent control, no matter how many people are on-board. At higher speeds, you get some wind and road noise but through the bends, the handling is surprisingly stable and there's plenty of grip.
Another benefit of using a passenger car base lies in the way that the SpaceTourer feels more nimble and compact than rivals when you're threading through city streets or making your way along country lanes. Light steering and a tight turning circle contribute here too. Under the bonnet of the combustion models, there's a choice of four BlueHDi diesel engines, with optional clutch-less gearboxes available both at the bottom and the top of the range. Customers are given the choice of either a 1.6-litre unit with either 95 or 115bhp (shortly after launch replaced by a near-identical 1.5-litre diesel). Or a 2.0-litre powerplant, available in either 150 or 180bhp guises. Go for the 150bhp unit and you can expect 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and 139g/km of CO2.
If you don't want to be putting out any CO2 at all, you'll need the full-battery eSpaceTourer variant, which uses a 50kWh battery and a 136hp electric motor, but has a very limited 136 mile range between charges. Because the e-Space Tourer supports up to 100kW rapid charging technology, an 80 per cent charge will take just 30 minutes. This EV People Carrier also features a 7kW on-board charger as standard. A full charge from a 7.4kW domestic Wallbox takes 7 hours 30 minutes. With the alternative 11kW wallbox, you can reduce that to four and three-quarter hours.
The Citroen SpaceTourer turned out to be a welcome addition to the largest segment of the MPV market at the end of the 21st century's second decade. Its good looks and smart interior give it family appeal, while the versatility of choosing from five, six, seven, eight or nine-seat configurations across three different body lengths give this French model more options than most rivals can offer. The problems with this MPV, such as they are, tend to be things that also apply to rivals in this segment. You'll get plenty of body roll if you're running late and start throwing this Citroen around. And if you want to take the rear seats out, you'll need to be strong of back if you can't enlist someone else to help you.
Otherwise, this Citroen's main issue probably lies in the fact that much the same package at much the same price is available badged as either a Peugeot Traveller, a Vauxhall Vivaro Life or a Toyota Proace Verso. Which means that if you like the design of this People Carrier - and we can see why you might - then a decision to go for this Citroen version will probably be heavily influenced by the kind of deal being offered. Value though, continues to be a brand strongpoint. Just like MPV design in fact. Some things never change.