Berlingo BlueHDi 120 S&S manual L1 625 LX
Allez France !
My how small vans have changed. Just looking at the Berlingos name & model above illustrates that. Once upon a time a van carried a couple of passengers & a load, or in the case of my Under 15’s football team, at least 7 people inthe back of a Ford Escort van circa 1980.
Citroen have, like the other van manufacturers, embraced the need for commercial vehicles to not only be practical, but also to be comfortable, better equipped & safer, whilst delivering low CO2 emissions & excellent fuel economy. My test Berlingo offered all of the above & more & even enabled me to take both my son & my father in law to a rugby game, although if I’m being honest, my son is 5ft 11″ & the leg room in the centre front seat is a bit of an issue.
My Euro 6 engined BlueHDi 120 S&S manual L1 625 LX offered a combined economy figure of 67.3 mpg, with C02 figures of 114g/km, which is pretty impressive. Equipped with Stop & Start & regenerative braking, the PSA Group has taken technology developed for Peugeot-Citroens passenger cars & has successfully transported this to it’s commercial vehicle range.
At first glance, the cabin does appear quite basic, but once inside it becomes clear that although finished in a straightforward black & grey it’s well put together & extremely functional. Dominating proceedings is the centrally located infotainment system, which offers MP3, DAB & hands-free Bluetooth functions. There’s no SatNav though. This is still a separate system located to the right of the dashboard & for me an opportunity missed for Citroen to include this with the other stuff in the middle.
If you need places to put your bits & bobs, there’s a good selection of storage options, with a covered dash-top box ahead of the driver, a deep recess on the passenger side, plus door pockets & 2 bottle holders in the dashboard. The optional double passenger seat is useful as it comes with a flip-up base that hides a larger storage area & my LX model also had a storage drawer underneath the drivers seat.
In the back there are six load lashing eyes & a useful 12v socket. Citroen have even added anti-drum panelling on the load compartment walls, something that would have been useful for me back in the 1980’s taking guitars, amps & drums to band rehearsals.
Size wise, the Berlingo has a wheelbase of 2728 mm, with a load compartment of 3.3 cu.m & a load weight for my test model of 626 kg. It also came with a nearside loading door & a system called Extenso, which is an innovative modular cabin product which enables you to have 3 front seats, demonstrated in my test van by the the outer seat folding flat when required, in order to be able to fit a longer load in of up to 3 m. Vey handy indeed. The cushion on the same seat can also be raised to enable tall items to fit in the cab alongside the driver. Throw in numerous cubby holes, most of which I didn’t notice or come across for a few days & you have a very practical van indeed.
As far a s the rear is concerned, I did try the load space out, by loading some 3 m pieces of wood from Selco into it. The front seat folded down flat so that I could quite happily get these longish pieces of wood in & I still had room to fit in 100 pieces of 1.8m feather board. Job done !
With van operators requesting better equipped vans for rather drivers, how did the Berlingo fare ? The LX is actually pretty good with a number goodies included to make that journey even more comfortable. Included on my LX were, Teletrac SatNav, remote control central locking, electric windows, cruise control with a speed limiter, Bluetooth, ESC with traction control & hill start, a drivers airbag, a 12v socket,USB in & heated electric mirrors. Added options on my test model included a half height steel/mesh bulkhead costing £90, air-con, an additional £600 & rear parking sensors that will set you back another £200. As you can see, vans have come a along way.
Out & about both on the motorway & around town, the Berlin’s not a bad place to be. The steering is light whilst the gear lever is well positioned in the centre of the dash with a shortish throw. There’s quite a bit of noise & vibration in the cabin due to the lack of a proper bulkhead as the mesh does not keep the noise out. I drove through some torrential Summer rain storms & it was painful at times just how loud the rain sounded in the front of the Berlingo. On the plus side, it’s smallish size means that the ride quality is pretty good regardless of the weight in the back. There’s a little more body roll than in some of the more modern competitors from Ford, Fiat Professional & Renault for example, but this is balanced by a comfortable Citroen ride, a leftover perhaps from Citroens of old.
Where then does that leave the Berlingo in comparison to the competition ? Having witnessed the UK launch at the CV Show of the new Citroen Dispatch, which is an all singing all dancing new product, the Berlingo, launched in 2008, is starting look dated. Despite it’s excellent fuel economy & Euro6 engine, the latest Berlingo is showing it’s age & I can’t help but think that there’s a replacement coming along in the very near future. As the Dispatch highlights, there is a growing demand for new technology to be included in new LCV’s by many customer’s & the current Berlingo has to a certain extent incorporated what customers want, but it has squeezed all of this new stuff into a much older product & this is where if anywhere, is where it falls down. It’s not a bad van, but in a number of areas, it’s now lagging behind some of the competition.
An Adil Rami 3/5