Citroen Berlingo Multispace review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
2008 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Citroen Berlingo Multispace isn't the most stylish MPV around, but it is hugely practical

For: 
Cabin versatility, low price, driving dynamics
Against: 
Quirky styling, dubious image, stability control optional

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The Citroen Berlingo Multispace is certainly not the most stylish car around, and it’s getting on a bit too. But for families who want a practical, good value and cheap to run MPV – with few frills - it’s more than up to the job.

There’s a choice of three punchy diesel engines with eco-friendly BlueHDi technology, as well as a single petrol option – along with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes. The van-based underpinnings mean the Berlingo Multispace isn’t a thrill a minute to drive, but it rides reasonably and all that space helps to make it quite comfortable on long journeys.

Our pick would be the BlueHDi 100, as it’s cheap to run and is the only version available with seven seats.

Our Choice: 
Berlingo Multispace BlueHDi 100 Feel

The Citroen Berlingo Multispace is a van-based MPV with sliding doors and a hugely roomy interior. It shares its platform with the Peugeot Partner Tepee, can hold up to seven people, and has room for up to 3,000 litres of luggage with the rear seats removed.

The current model Berlingo is the second generation but was still launched all the way back in 2008, which means it’s reached a decent age for a van – let alone a passenger vehicle.

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In fact, the first generation Berlingo was replaced by two models, the current Berlingo – which runs on the same platform as the Citroen C4 hatch – and its smaller sister model the Citroen Nemo, which was developed on the platform of the Fiat Grande Punto. As a result, the Berlingo Multispace does have a driving feel that’s not entirely van-like, but the model is clearly priced and specified for the more utilitarian end of the MPV market.

The Citroen was mildly facelifted in 2015, gaining a restyled grille and front bumper, and a cabin overhaul that brought with it a new fascia design and the option of Touchscreen technology. Apart from the new dashboard tech though, the design changes weren’t exactly sweeping.

More significant were the engine revisions introduced, as the Berlingo Multispace now has a pair of highly efficient BlueHDi diesels to choose from, or a Puretech petrol option.

The car comes in three different trim levels, although even the top spec XTR is hardly lavish. It comes with raised suspension, body cladding and Grip Control for optimum performance on mud, sand and snow. Lesser Touch, Feel (and Feel Edition) cars are also available, though none are particularly well equipped.

You’ll need to opt for the Feel model to get air-con, while only the top Feel Edition and XTR cars get alloy wheels. Bluetooth isn’t even an option on basic Touch and Feel models, but comes as standard higher up the range. Only top spec XTR cars come with the seven-inch touchscreen.

Engines, performance and drive

2
Concentrate on enjoying the smooth ride, as there’s not much else to shout about

Unfortunately, the fact the Berlingo looks like a van, means it drives like one too. Although it’s based on the previous generation Citroen C4/Peugeot 308 passenger car platform and running gear, the upright driving position and heavy steering make it difficult to get comfortable. The noisy diesel engines mean refinement isn’t great either, but at least the supple ride ensures it is relatively comfortable on longer journeys.

There’s a range of punchy diesel engines to choose from, with all offering a good blend of low down torque and decent economy. We’d steer clear of the entry-level petrol, but any of the diesels are worth a punt.

Engines

If economy is key, go for one of the S&S (stop-start) enabled BlueHDi 100 models, but if you value performance, then the quickest car is the BlueHDi 120. It has 118bhp and 300Nm of torque, which is enough to do 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and hit 109mph flat out. It’s no sports car, but it’ll keep up with traffic both in and out of town.

The BlueHDi is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but if you drop down a level to the BlueHDi 100 you can have either a five-speed manual or a six-speed electronically shifted gearbox. That said, the extra ease of the auto costs you dear in performance terms, as it’s virtually two seconds slower to 62mph – 14.3 seconds versus 12.4 seconds for the manual. That’s from an engine that makes 98bhp and 254Nm.

The third diesel option is the BlueHDi 75, which musters 74bhp and 233NM of torque. By now, things are getting properly sluggish with a 15.1 second 0-62mph time.

With the extra diesel efficiency, there’s not really much reason to choose the four-cylinder 1,598cc petrol VTi 95. It makes 95bhp, and 152Nm of torque, and will reach 62mph in 12.8 seconds.

MPG, CO2 and running costs

4
Diesel running costs will be super-low, but the petrol version is not quite so impressive

There’s little to match the boxy Citroen when it comes to value for money. There’s only one petrol engine, but that's fine, as the diesels are the engines to go for. And while the asking prices are reasonable it’s best not to expect too much in the way of luxuries, particularly if you’re shopping in the bargain basement – which is very much where the petrol fits into the scheme of things.

The BlueHDi 100 will return 65.7mpg and emit 113g/km of CO2, or 68.9mpg and 109g/km if you choose the S&S stop-start model with manual transmission. That makes it the most economical Berlingo Multispace – although if you pick the six-speed ETG automatic with stop-start, then economy slips marginally to 67.3mpg.

Go for the most powerful BlueHDi 120 and economy will slip again – but only slightly to 64.2mpg and 115g/km. It’s a small price to pay if you value the extra performance.

If you’re utterly resistant to the diesel versions, the petrol VTi 95 will return 44.1mpg on the combined cycle, but CO2 emissions are up to 148g/km. That said, the petrol – which only comes in basic Touch spec - does cost more than £2k less than the entry level diesel, which you can only get in Feel trim, one level up. So unless you’re doing huge mileage and are on a really meagre budget the petrol could make financial sense.

Insurance groups

The insurance bands for the Berlingo Multispace shouldn’t give any cause for concern. The 1.6 VTi 95 Touch starts the line-up off at Group 10, and the most expensive BlueHDI 120 XTR is Group 17. Other models fall somewhere in between.

Depreciation

Although the Berlingo Multispace isn’t expensive to buy, it still manages to lose a fair chunk of value over a typical three-year/30,000 mile ownership period. The best percentage residual values are for the BlueHDi 100 models in Feel spec with the seven-seat Family option, which will just about cling on to 35 per cent of its new price. The worst performer is the same engine with only five seats and the auto gearbox, which will return 31 per cent of its value according to used car price specialists CAP.

Interior, design and technology

2
It looks like a van, but most newer vans have better on-board tech than the basic Berlingo

No matter how you look at it, there’s no hiding the Berlingo Multispace’s commercial vehicle roots. It looks like a van from the outside, with its sliding doors, upright profile and high roofline, while inside the tall driving position and versatile interior all hint at the Berlingo’s previous life.

Modern MPVs like the Ford C-MAX and Citroen’s very own C4 Picasso are more ergonomically designed, with a more car-like driving position and logically calculated dash. However, the Berlingo won’t win any beauty contests, but as a functional, versatile people carrier, not much beats it.

Inside too, the trim and finishes are fine as far as quality goes, but in terms of ambience and feel they’re pretty poor. There are shiny scratchy plastics all around the cabin that point to a commercial life, so don't come to the Berlingo looking for ergonomics, style or eye-catching design.

There are a few clever touches though, like the Modutop roof that incorporates 170-litres of extra storage. The top-spec XTR looks a bit more interesting too, with 16-inch alloys, and the All-Road pack. That gives you raised suspension, under-body protection and a Grip Control electronic traction system for loose surfaces like gravel or snow.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The entry-level Touch model and the Feel both share an RDS stereo with a CD player, MP3 compatibility and steering wheel mounted controls. However you don’t get Bluetooth unless you got to the top spec XTR, when it comes as part of a standard package that also includes the 7-inch touchscreen navigation system, and a four-speaker audio system. The system is also compatible with your smartphone via Mirrorlink, but bad luck if you don’t buy the XTR as neither the touchscreen satnav – or even Bluetooth – are available as option extras on the other models. If you do have a touchscreen, you get a reversing camera, too.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

4
The seven-seat option should be more widely available, but you can’t fault the space

It’s when you climb aboard the Multispace, that its appeal becomes most obvious. Open the sliding rear doors, and you’re confronted with one of the biggest and most versatile cabins in the business. There’s plenty of stowage space thanks to deep door pockets, and there's even that neat aircraft-style overhead Modutop locker option. It provides a load of storage options that make life aboard the Multispace practical even when there are seven passengers on-board.

The upright seating position means it’s not always easy to get comfortable though, so make sure you have an extended sit-down in the driver’s seat before signing on the dotted line. You may also find all that dull grey plastic a bore to live with, and the overall crudity of the driving experience can be tiring too.

Size

The Citroen Berlingo Multispace is 4,384mm long, 1,810mm wide and 1,852mm tall. This compares to 4,300mm x 1,812mm x 1,615mm for the Vauxhall Meriva MPV and 3,959mm x 1,716mm x 1,810mm for the Fiat Qubo.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

Mid-spec Feel models with the BlueHDi 100 engine get the option of seven seats, and there’s plenty of head, leg and shoulder room for everyone. It’s a shame the extra row of seats is an £850 option, and it ought to be offered more widely on other versions too.

Access to all seats is a breeze thanks to the big sliding doors, but rear passengers might wish for proper roll-down windows instead of the tilting glass that’s supplied.

Boot

You get a 675-litre boot and if you fold the rear bench flat you’ll free up an incredible 3,000 litres of boot space. You can also remove the second and third row (if fitted) altogether, for a truly van-like experience.

Even with the seats up the luggage space is impressive compared to more car-like MPVs.

Reliability and Safety

2
Comparative safety scores are low, while Driver Power survey ratings aren’t all they could be

All cars get ABS and ESC, with Emergency Braking Assistance. Fitted as well are hill hold control, tyre pressure sensors and automated hazard lights. Unfortunately, only two airbags are standard on basic cars, while top-spec XTR models get front lateral airbags too. Curtain airbags are optional, but only on some models – so check before you buy.

On the down side, while the Berlingo did manage to score a reasonable four-star Euro NCAP rating when first tested back in 2008, the facelifted model was retested in 2014 and only managed three stars. This isn’t because the Berlingo has become more dangerous, but the because the tests have become a lot stiffer in the intervening years. Currently, the Berlingo is scored with an adult occupant safety rating of just 56 per cent, with 74 per cent for children – the results are similar for the Dacia Logan, but a Ford B-Max scored 96 per cent and 81 per cent with five stars back in 2010.

Citroen finished a disappointing 20th in the 2015 Driver Power survey, but that was a six-place climb on its 2014 result, so things were looking up. Owners rank running costs as a positive, but build quality, performance, road handling and ease of driving are all areas where there’s plenty of room for improvement. That said, the Berlingo itself wasn’t specifically rated as on of the 200 cars in the comparison.

Warranty

Citroen covers the Berlingo Multispace with its standard three-year warranty. There’s no mileage limit for years one or two, but there’s a 60,000 limit that comes into force in the third year. You can also purchase extended warranties, and pay via instalments.

Servicing

The Citroen Berlingo’s servicing requirement is 20,000 miles or two years for the petrol model, or 12,500 miles or annually for the diesel. There are maintenance packages available that will help to spread the cost.

Last updated: 22 Apr, 2016