The Citroen Nemo is a compact van offering more load space than small hatchback vans. It’s good to drive, but has a bouncy part-laden ride
The Nemo, along with the Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper, built in the same factory in Turkey, revived the compact van sector in the UK when launched in 2007. There’s one body style, with a choice of 72bhp petrol or 74bhp diesel engine. The Nemo comes with three trim levels, giving customers a choice of equipment, although there’s only one petrol model with the entry-level X spec. The standard Extenso passenger seat, which folds down level with the load floor can usefully extend the load-floor length on the passenger side. Diesel-powered models can offer over 50mpg in normal use.
MPG and Running Costs
Diesel models, badged HDi 75, are powered by Fiat’s 1,248cc 74bhp MultiJet diesel engine. Driven carefully, around 60mpg in fuel economy is possible, but low to mid-50s mpg is more likely. The Peugeot Citroen 1,360cc 72bhp petrol engine will only deliver around 40mpg, but since petrol can be up to 10p per litre cheaper than diesel, low annual mileage may make the petrol-engined model a winner, if you don’t mind the basic spec. The entry-level X model is £1,500 cheaper than the equivalent X-model diesel. The petrol engine will give CO2 emissions of 148g/km, which drops to 119g/km for diesel-engined manual transmission models or 109g/km for the diesel with stop-start and automated transmission. Since van owners pay the same VED regardless of CO2 emissions, all new models will cost £220 a year in VED. Service intervals are set at 20,000 miles/two years. Expect insurance to be in the 2E to 4E range.
Load Space and Practicality
The Nemo comes with two unglazed asymmetric rear doors as standard, for security, and a ladder-type bulkhead behind the driver’s seat. The rear doors will open to 180 degrees. There's a range of bulkhead options, all at cost, from a half-height steel bulkhead with mesh upper section to a glazed full-steel bulkhead. There’s a folding-cage-type bulkhead designed for use with the standard Extenso folding passenger seat, so that even when the seat is used to extend the load area on the passenger side, the driver has some protection from a shifting load. The Extenso seat can be used as a passenger seat, a table for the driver with the seat back folded down, or it can be lowered further and locked in place to form an extension of the load area on the passenger side. This extends the load-area length from 1,523mm to 2,491mm, enabling items such as ladders or piping to be carried. The load space is a fairly regular shape but inevitably, the rear wheel arches narrow the width, in this case to 1,046mm. Overall, the Nemo offers more space than its only comparable competitor, the new Mercedes-Benz Citan Compact. The Nemo offers 2.5 cubic metres of load volume (2.8 cubic metres with the Extenso seat folded) compared with the Citan Compact’s 2.4 cubic metres. There’s not a lot in it, but the Nemo’s load space is 154mm longer, ignoring the Extenso seat, 13mm wider and 53mm lower than the Citan Compact. The Nemo’s load-space dimensions are identical to the Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper. The 180-degree opening rear doors give good access to the load space. LX and Enterprise models come with a nearside sliding side door, too, and there’s an option of an offside door. Tailor-made racking is available for the Nemo. The load space is over twice the size of hatchback vans such as the Fiat Punto van, Ford Fiestavan and Vauxhall Corsavan and access is far better, too. The Minivan offers another alternative with similar access, but the load space is much smaller than the Nemo’s.
Reliability and Safety
The Nemo engine range had been in use for some time before the model was launched. Before mid-2010, diesel models were fitted with Peugeot Citroen’s 68bhp 1.4-litre HDi diesel. All engines seem to have a good reputation for reliability. There are reports of premature failure of the front suspension top-mount bearing and heavy front tyre wear, a problem apparently inherited from the Fiat Punto, on which the van is based. Early models were not available with electronic stability control (ESC), causing a Nemo passenger model to fail the “Elk” test in Germany in 2010 and turn over. The test involves a sudden lane-change manoeuvre. ESC is now standard on Stop & Start EGS van models and a £200 option on others.
Driving and Performance
Because the Nemo is based on a car – the Fiat Punto –it’s no surprise that it drives like one. The power-assisted steering is light and the van handles well. The downside is stiff and bouncy suspension, most noticeable when lightly loaded, which does not make for a smooth ride. It can be thrown off by potholes and bumps. This is probably the result of the short wheelbase and relatively high payload capacity of 660kg, resulting in stiff springing, but similarly short models like the Ford Fiestavan and Vauxhall Corsavan ride better. The diesel engine pulls well and the Nemo can cruise easily at motorway speeds with the minimum of mechanical noise.
Cab and Interior
The Nemo cab feels surprisingly large for a small vehicle, probably because the driving position is fairly close to the centre of the van, so set well back from the base of the windscreen. The deep windscreen and large mirrors give reasonable all-round visibilty but there's no wide-angle section of the mirror. Storage space is good, with a deep glovebox capable of holding a laptop. There are useful door pockets, too. A full-steel bulkhead helps to cut down on road noise from the load area, although this limits the usefulness of the Extenso seat. Tall passengers may not find the Extenso seat that comfortable, either, as the seating position is higher than the driver’s seat and there’s less padding than on the driver’s seat to absorb bumps.
Load area dimensions
- Power: 72bhp – 74bhp
- Weight (GVW): 1,680kg – 1,750kg
- Payload: 610kg – 660kg
- Loading height (approx, unladen) : 527mm – 530mm