Citroen Berlingo van review
Citroen Berlingo offers a choice of bodystyles and payload options, sat-nav on all models and economical engines
The latest Citroen Berlingo hit the UK van market in 2008 but a 2015 facelift has refreshed its looks and added more advanced Euro6-compatible diesel engines. Equipment levels also took a step up as part of the revisions in a bid to help the Berlingo keep pace with the likes of the Ford Transit Connect, the Volkswagen Caddy and Fiat's Doblo Cargo.
The Citroen Berlingo is offered in L1 and L2 variants, which have different length bodies but an identical wheelbase. The Berlingo spawned the highly versatile Multispace van-based MPV in Citroen's passenger car range and also has a sister model based on the same platform called the Peugeot Partner.
Berlingo buyers can get a 94bhp 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine or an all-electric version, both restricted to the shorter L1 bodystyle. Most will choose diesel, however, and that means a 74bhp or 89bhp version of the 1.6-litre HDi common-rail injection unit or one of the latest Euro6 compliant BlueHDi engines.
The Euro6 units use Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to dip under the emissions threshold. There's a 98bhp 1.6-litre BlueHDi or a 118bhp option and both come with a 6-speed manual gearbox in place of the 5-speed item fitted to other models. The ETG6 6-speed automated manual transmission is a further option as is Citroen's S&S start-stop technology.
Trim levels range from X and LX to the top-spec Enterprise, while there’s also an XTR+ version, which promises limited off-road ability with its increased ground clearance and clever electronic traction control system. All Berlingos come well equipped, with Teletrac Smartnav navigation and Trackstar vehicle tracking while the top spec versions get a neat 7-inch touchscreen sat-nav.
Inside, the Berlingo is impressively versatile, with a range of bulkhead options and seat configurations. There’s also a crew van model, providing seating for up to five people, while a platform van Berlingo allows buyers to add bodywork to suit their needs.
MPG and Running Costs
The Citroen Berlingo is one of the most efficient vans in its class. The most economical version is actually the 98bhp BlueHDi 100 with the ETG6 automatic gearbox - it returns 68.9mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km. The same engine with the manual gearbox manages 67.3mpg and 111g/km. Every diesel engine in the Berlingo range exceeds the 50mpg mark but the petrol unit only manages 43.5mpg.
Citroen also offers a Berlingo Electric, which claims a range of 106 miles from a 12-hour charge through a domestic power socket. In addition, it has a quick-charging facility that can take the battery from empty to 80 per cent capacity in only 35 minutes.
Conventional diesel models have service intervals of 12,500 miles and 24 months which are on the short side compared to rivals. However, the Berlingo hits back with some of the lowest insurance groups in the small van market – as with the Peugeot Partner, the line-up ranges from groups 1E to 3E.
Load Space and Practicality
Buyers get a choice of bulkhead options with the Citroen Berlingo. A ladder-type arrangement is fitted as standard. This sits behind the passenger seat, allowing owners to take advantage of the Extenso folding seat mechanism included on LX, XTR+ and Enterprise models, and arrange the passenger seat as they want it. A full-height steel bulkhead is available as an option, although Enterprise versions get this as standard.
Citroen also offers a half-height steel bulkhead, with removable panels and a steel mesh upper section. The removable panels work in conjunction with the Extenso seat – which folds flush with the floor – to increase the length of the load bay from 1,800mm to 3,000mm.
If you regularly carry long loads, go for the L2 model: fabricated sections extend the overhangs at the rear to free up extra space, although the van looks rather ungainly than the more common Berlingo L1 as a result. Alternatively, if you need to transport more than three people, you should consider the L2 crew van.
It’s fitted with a clever combined rear seat and sliding bulkhead. This means whether you’re using the extra seating capacity or have folded the rear seats flat, a bulkhead is locked in place to separate the load from the passenger compartment. Trouble is, passengers using these seats don’t get a lot of legroom, and when the seats are folded, they limit the amount of adjustment in the driver’s seat.
The load area is longer than in rivals like the Ford Transit Connect and Renault Kangoo, and comparable with the Volkswagen Caddy, although the Fiat Doblo Cargo and Vauxhall Combo can swallow longer loads. It’s a similar story for payload: the Berlingo can manage up to 896kg which is competitive with most rivals, but the Doblo Cargo and Combo offer payloads of up to 1,000kg.
As the Citroen van can accommodate a standard Euro pallet between the wheelarches, even L1 models could carry two Euro pallets – payload and axle loadings permitting. The side-loading door is not wide enough to squeeze a Euro pallet through, but as there is sufficient space between the wheelarches to load from the back, this doesn't matter. L2 models get twin sliding side doors as standard, while a tailgate is available as an alternative to the twin asymmetric rear doors – although most buyers are likely to stick with the latter, as they open to a full 180 degrees. An optional roof flap allows you to accommodate long loads, such as ladders, but this isn't available on cars with an offside side-loading door.
Reliability and Safety
Citroen now fits Electronic Stability Control across the Berlingo range along with Hill Start Assist, ABS and a driver's airbag. It's not the most comprehensive safety specification you'll find in the compact van sector with many rivals going further in their standard safety specification and offering a more detailed options list. On the security front, you only get remote central locking and deadlocks on LX models and above while the alarm system is an option on all models.
The Berlingo seems to have a reasonable reliability record, with mechanical components proving fairly durable – the oldest models have now seen long service and owners of the van or the Berlingo Multispace family car haven’t reported any serious problems.
Driving and Performance
Performance from all versions of the 1.6-litre diesel is decent. The 75bhp option isn't the quickest but it can cope reasonably well with motorway travel. The 90bhp version, however, is a better all-rounder evidenced by a 12.8s 0-62mph time compared to 16.6s with the entry level engine. Step up to the more powerful Euro6 units and performance improves with a 11.8s sprint time with the 98bhp BlueHDi 100 engine and 10.7s with the range-topping HDi 120.
While the six-speed EGS gearbox doesn't like to be rushed, it works fairly well in the Berlingo, making urban driving more relaxing. Ride quality is very good for a load carrier with very smooth progress regardless of the weight in the back. There's more body roll than in the sharpest-driving rivals but that's a trade-off many will accept in exchange for the comfy ride.
The steering has a good weight and is direct enough, while the gear lever is well positioned and has a pleasant short throw action. There's quite a bit of noise and vibration making its way into the cabin, though, partly due to the lack of a proper bulkhead in the standard versions. It means that longer journeys can be more wearing than than in rivals with better insulation.
The XTR+ model is designed with off-road use in mind. It’s still only two-wheel drive, but the sophisticated electronic traction control system works well, improving grip in more difficult conditions by adjusting the power and braking individual wheels. Drivers can select the best setting for the terrain using a rotary switch that replaces one of the angled drinks holders in the dashboard.
Cab and Interior
The Berlingo cab isn't the roomiest you'll find in the compact van sector. A six-foot tall driver can just about find a comfortable driving position, but the limited seat travel and narrow footwell mean that very tall individuals will struggle. If you go for the double passenger seat, the person sitting in the centre is likely to be very cramped as the gear selector mechanism is set into the base of the dashboard and restricts knee room. Still, the set-up is worth specifying for the extra seating flexibility it provides over short journeys.
Controls are light and logically arranged for the most part, but the electric window switches are mounted on the dashboard rather than on the doors where you expect them to be - and the optional USB phone charging socket is hidden away in the passenger footwell.
Storage options are plentiful, with a covered dash-top box ahead of the driver and a deep recess on the passenger side, plus door pockets and the horizontal bottle holders in the dashboard. Places to put larger items are harder to come by and that's another area where the optional double passenger seat is useful and it comes with a flip-up base that hides a larger storage area.
|625 L1 XTR+||1,842mm||1,810mm||4,380mm|
|725 L2 crew van||1,834mm||1,810mm||4,628mm|
Load area dimensions
|625 L1 XTR+||1,250mm||1,380mm||1,800mm||3.3m3|
|725 L2 crew van||1,250mm||1,380mm||2,050mm||2.4-3.4m3|
- Power: 74bhp – 118bhp
- Weight (GVW): 1,935kg – 2,170kg
- Loading height (approx, unladen): 584mm – 612mm