Vans come & vans go, but vans in 2020 are most definitely light years ahead of the vans of even ten years ago. Take the new Citroen Berlingo. Company Car & Van got to drive it recently & the first thing you notice is that it now offers the same safety & technology that can be found in the Citroen passenger car range, such as Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, as well as a choice of safety packs that include speed limit & road sign recognition. The material’s used in the cabin are also a step up from vans of old, which is first class & the Berlingo drives unladen, very much like a five door family hatchback.
New Berlingo comes to market at a good time, alongside sister vans the Vauxhall Combo Cargo & Peugeot Partner. Competition is fierce in the sector, with the Ford Courier, Volkswagen Caddy, Renault Kangoo, Mercedes-Benz Citan & Fiat Professional Doblo Cargo all vying for your money.
When it comes to the range, Citroen have kept it simple, with Berlingo offered in two lengths, M & XL with just a single roof height offered. These models offer cargo space of 3.3 & 3.8 cubic metres respectively. All models bar the entry level X, feature the clever Extenso pack, which adds a through-loading bulkhead & an extra half a cubic metre of load space where the front passenger seats are located. In common with many small vans today, the front seat folds down so that longer items can be loaded.
Four trim levels are offered. Entry level Berlingo X, then Worker, Enterprise & finally Driver. M vans get a single sliding side door, featured on our Enterprise test model, whilst XL versions get double sliding doors. Both models get asymmetric double doors at the rear. These rear doors come in steel as standard, but glazing can be added as an option.
All Berlingo van models feature electric front windows, electric mirrors, six lashing eyes in the cargo floor, remote central locking with deadlocks & separate cab locking.
Climb aboard & you’ll find that the cabin is a comfortable place to be, with decent seat adjustment on offer. For those who love cubby holes & spaces to put their water bottles, keys or paperwork, the Berlingo offers eight dashboard storage spaces, two with lids, plus a full cabin width overhead storage space above the driver & front passengers heads. There’s even two decent sized door pockets.
A reach & rake adjustable steering wheel, makes it easy to get the right driving position as well. I’m pleased to say that like the larger Dispatch, the dashboard, fixtures & fittings in new Berlingo, are all of good quality, including the seat fabric, whilst also looking & feeling built to last.
Modern van customers, especially those who travel, will want to know what goodies Berlingo has in store to make those longer journeys more bearable. We were testing an Enterprise M model which comes pretty well specced, with amongst other things, dual AirCon, which warmed the cabin up quickly on a few cold January mornings. There’s also a centrally located dashboard mounted 8″ touchscreen, which offers Citroen Connect DAB radio, MirrorScreen, Bluetooth, a USB socket & aux in. On the Enterprise the system also included SatNav, which we utilised & found to work well , unsurprisingly, as it’s the same system featured in for example, Citroen’s C3 Aircross passenger car.
Lower down on the dash, there are also two useful 12v sockets. Enterprise also features rear parking sensors, a 6-way adjustable drivers seat, tough rubber floor protection, cruise control with limiter, an alarm, a tyre pressure monitor, electrically folding mirrors with temperature sensor & a drivers airbag. All in all, not a bad haul.
A week behind the wheel gave me plenty of scope to drive the Berlingo locally on a mixture of motorway, A, B & urban roads. At no point was the Berlingo driven laden, save for a fairly light load of toilet paper, tissues, washing powder & dishwasher tabs on our quarterly run to & from our local Makro. I was also in the main, driving alone, so how the van performed & the results we found were based on this.
What’s really appealing about Berlingo, is that it drives like a small family car. Steering is light & the five-speend manual gear box & clutch are very light & easy to engage. On the motorway I selected cruise control, adjusted this to 70mph & the Berlingo sat comfortably in lanes one & two as I journeyed across the Pennines to Leeds & back. For those of you who want a small van that works well on the motorway, the Berlingo ticks that box. It’s quiet in the cab, the seats are comfortable, the full steel bulkhead keeps the heat in the cab & the load space noise at bay & when utilising the Bluetooth hands-free phone & the DAB radio, outside wind & road noise are not an issue.
On smaller roads around Altrincham, I found that the the Berlingo will sit quietly in traffic, with the light clutch a real bonus in stop-start traffic. There are some winding country roads in our area, so I took the Berlingo for a spin around Knutsford & again, the handling impressed. Point it into a corner & it does what’s required & with the M van anyway, there is little or no rolling encountered on entry or exit from these.
The only negative’s I could find, were that whoever gets to sit in the middle seat of three up front, will find legroom a challenge & the five-speed gearbox in our 100 S&S model, can be found wanting at higher speeds, although if that ‘s problem for you, there is a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto, available on the 1.5 diesel 130 S&S range.
Economy & emissions are worth noting. For the Enterprise M 1.6 Blue HDi we tested these are 67.3mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. We tested the Berlingo unladen with one passenger, the driver & seven days of mixed driving across different types of road, resulted in an economy figure of 50.5 mpg, which isn’t half bad
Berlingo’s of old, were popular because of their durability & price, but came with the caveat of little in the way of comfort or extras. The new version looks & feels tough, comes very well equipped with good tech & safety features & it’s attractively priced, with the Berlingo range starting at £20,016 for the X panel van, M 75 Blue HDi 650X.
Our test model, the Enterprise M 100 Blue HDi 1000 retailed at £23,466. I have a gut feeling that this could well be the most popular model in the range, either this, or, the slightly lower priced Worker with the same capacity, which is priced at £22,626.
We drove the Combo Cargo in November & the Berlingo panel van, more than matches the Vauxhall in every area. Comparing Berlingo to the Combo, or to the Peugeot Partner, isn’t really what we should be doing here however, because all three are excellent. Better then, to say that Berlingo can now compete on an even keel with the Transit Connect & it’s now better than the Volkswagen Caddy. What is certain, is that it’s most definitely the best Berlingo yet & it’s now one of the leading vans in the sector.
Body style Height Width Length
M panel van 1,840mm 1,848mm 4,403mm
XL panel van 1,840mm 1,848mm 4,753mm
Worker panel van 1,860mm 1,848mm 4,403mm
Load area dimensions
Body style Height Width Length Volume
M standard van 1,236mm 1,550mm 1,817mm 3.3m3
XL long wheelbase van 1,243mm 1,550mm 2,167mm 3.8m3
M with Extenso 1,236mm 1,550mm 3,090mm 3.9m3
XL with Extenso 1,243mm 1,550mm 3,440mm 4.4m3
(Width between wheel arches: 1,229mm)
Load volume: 3.3m3 – 4.4m3