Citroen Relay 30 L1H1 HDi 110 6 speed manual.
In the early 1990s, when I worked for the late, great Alan Fawcett on Fleet North magazine, I road-tested several vans, normally when Alan didn’t fancy driving one himself. The vans I drove then were basic, with pretty much no extras of any kind & certainly none were equipped with modern aids such as reversing sensors to help you park without bashing the back of your van.
Fast-forward to 2014 & how things have changed from those spartan times. When I took delivery of the new Citroen Relay recently I immediately realised just how far vans have come since then with a standard list of equipment as good as many new cars including power steering, Bluetooth, cruise control, DAB radio, air-con, several air bags & comfort all the way.
It’s not just the extras which have improved either. Citroën’s advanced new Relay HDi diesel engines all have significantly improved efficiency over their predecessors, with up to 15% better fuel economy & lower CO2 emissions figures. New Relay panel vans in the 3.0 – 3.5 tonne GVW sector all have excellent combined cycle fuel economy of up to 42.8mpg and sub-200g/km CO2 emission figures, stats that in 1992 were simply unobtainable from a large van.
There are four fuel-efficient low CO2 emission engines that can be specified in the new Relay; HDi 110, HDi 130, e-HDi 130 (with Stop & Start) & HDi 150, all with six-speed, all-synchromesh manual gearboxes.
With competition in the sub-5-tonne van sector fierce, Citroen has really attacked the market head-on with the Relay range. My model retailed at the highly competitive price of £21,785 on the road, about £8000 less than the equivalent Sprinter or Crafter. However don’t let the price put you off as it isn’t anything like cheap or under equipped. Like all Relays, it’s fitted withTrafficmaster Smartnav GPS Satellite Navigation as well as the Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking system. It also comes with extended mile service intervals (up to 25,000 miles) & has the widest panel van load bay in is sector. To aid loading it also has the lowest rear loading height in its class. Furthermore, the Relay incorporates key safety features such as ABS & EBA, with the option of ESP & a Hill Start Assist function.
The Enterprise also offers rear parking sensors which, as an inexperienced van user I found essential. The Relay is also comfortable in the cab, with several seat adjustments including a height adjustable/moveable drivers’ arm rest, air con, a height adjusted steering wheel, tinted glass, variable PAS, electric windows, a fold-up dash-top document clipboard, large interior overhead lights, a 12-volt socket, door and central grab handles and a cup holder in the central console. Extras on my test van include the annoying lane departure warning system with a life of it’s own which costs £300, a reversing camera very useful at £225 & a front passenger airbag costing £180.
As all van drivers need a place for their newspaper, food & drink cartons, there’s also loads of storage space. Two lockable glove boxes, large front door pockets, under seat storage spaces and an overcab storage shelf give the driver & if needs be, two passengers plenty of space for this kind of stuff. In the back, the load space is excellent: 8 cu.m in total, 2,670 mm load deck length, 1,662 mm load height & a load width of 1,870 mm. Payload is 1155 kg with a maximum towing weight of 2000 kg
With a 90 litre fuel tank capacity & a claimed combined of 41.5 mpg you won’t have to stop very often to fill the Relay up. Even though I drove the van unladen, it flew down the motorway and returned just over 36 mpg on my test, an excellent performance for a van of this size. A smooth gear change & surprisingly good road manners all add to the Relays armoury which is further enhanced by a commanding view from the cab, which enabled me to negotiate all situations that came my way reasonably comfortably. The fact that the Relay was fitted with light power steering, rear parking sensors & a rear view camera of course helped me, as did the large door mirrors when turning and reversing & checking when overtaking on the motorway.
As an overall package the Relay is hard to beat. Not only is it a quality product, but it is backed by Citroen’s Business Class Programme offering small fleets a higher level of professional service than ever before, from a network of approximately 75 dealers. Like all of Citroens van range, the Relay offers incredible value for money, with Citroen usually the most competitively priced van range you can buy. The new Relay only enhances this view & is perhaps Citroens new secret weapon at least until the new Berlingo arrives in the UK in 2015.
Can I suggest that you test drive a new Relay. You won’t be disappointed by the van, the Citroen dealer you go to or it’s price.
A Marvellous Marvin Hagler 4/5