Citroen Berlingo comes with a choice of bodystyles and payload options, while Airdream models offer class-leading fuel consumption
The latest Citroen Berlingo hit the UK van market in 2008, and it comprises L1 and L2 models, with different length bodies but an identical wheelbase. The Berlingo spawned the highly versatile Multispace family car, but the van is effectively the same as its sister model, the Peugeot Partner. And it introduced the double passenger seat to the small van class – this concept has since been copied on the next-generation Ford Transit Connect, which goes on sale later this year.
The Berlingo L2 stands out with its longer rear overhang, which stretches the dimensions to give a longer load area. And the range has been boosted by the recent arrival of a full electric model, badged L1H1. Most buyers will go for a conventionally powered Berlingo, though, and they can choose from a 97bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine in the L1 (available only in X or LX spec) or 75bhp or 90bhp 1.6-litre HDi common-rail diesels – co-developed by Citroen, Peugeot and Ford – in either bodystyle. Those buying the higher-powered 1.6 HDi also get the option of a low-emission Airdream model, which uses PSA Peugeot Citroen’s e-HDi technology to get CO2 down to 118g/km on versions with the EGS6 automated manual gearbox.
Trim levels range from X and LX to the top-spec Enterprise, while there’s also an L1 XTR+ version, which promises limited off-road ability from its increased ground clearance and clever electronic traction control system. But all Berlingos come well equipped, with Trafficmaster Smartnav navigation and Trackstar vehicle tracking (including three-year subscriptions to both), as well as three months’ safety camera alerts.
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 Airdream 625 LX e-HDi 90 model promises 62.8mpg combined fuel consumption and 118g/km CO2 emissions. For now, only the Renault Kangoo ML 19 Energy has the edge in terms of van mpg, with 65.7mpg economy and 112g/km emissions. In everyday driving, owners can expect to achieve 50-55mpg in this Berlingo, which features PSA Peugeot Citroen’s EGS6 six-speed automated gearbox. Other diesel models should be good for mpg in the mid-40s to 50s.
Citroen also offers an electrically powered L1H1 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 far shorter than those of the class-leading Renault Kangoo (25,000 miles/24 months). 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 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 a £130 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 3,000m. 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, manufactured by Dutch converter Snoek. 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 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
Disappointingly, the only Berlingo to get electronic stability control as standard is the EGS6 automatic version of the LX. The safety net is a £250 option on other models. And while all vans get a driver’s airbag, LX and automatic models are also the only Berlingos to come with a passenger airbag. It’s a £100 option elsewhere in the range, although buyers are better off specifying the £250 side airbags, as this option includes a passenger airbag. The Berlingo seems to have a reasonable reliability record, with mechanical components proving fairly durable – the oldest models are now four to five years old, 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, but the 90bhp version appears to be the better all-rounder, and all low-emission Berlingo Airdream models use this engine. While the six-speed EGS gearbox doesn't like to be rushed, it works fairly well in this Citroen, making urban driving more relaxing. Ride quality is fairly good for a load carrier, and handling is impressive considering the van dimensions. 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 is fairly comfortable, although if you go for the double passenger seat, the person sitting in the centre is likely to be fairly cramped as the gear selector mechanism is set into the base of the dashboard. 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. Storage space is good, 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. However, as there’s no full steel bulkhead separating the cabin from the load, road noise is an issue.
|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: 75bhp – 97bhp
- Weight (GVW): 1,935kg – 2,170kg
- Loading height (approx, unladen): 584mm – 612mm