Citroen Berlingo Van review
The Citroen Berlingo Van adds car tech to make it a front runner in the UK small van class
The Citroen Berlingo Van is the spiritual successor to small vans such as the 2CV Van and Visa-based C15. The Berlingo is a big player in the small van sector, too, leading the way for sales in the UK and Europe alike. The latest model in showrooms is a significant upgrade over the outgoing version, as it incorporates technology from the Citroen passenger car range to boost safety and user friendliness for drivers.
The square body maximises load space inside, while the Berlingo shares its basic bodyshell and running gear with the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo. However, the front end design takes its influence from the larger Citroen Dispatch van, as well as passenger models such as the C3 and C3 Aircross, to give it a distinct look over its sister models. As well as the van version, Citroen offers the Berlingo van-based MPV which has now dropped the Multispace tag forcing this commercial model to be known as the 'Berlingo Van'.
A low floor helps with loading, and the increased width between the rear wheelarches means two Europallets can fit in the back of the Berlingo Van with ease. As well as a larger floor area, payloads have increased, too. The lowest payload rating for the Berlingo is 667kg, and this rises to just over a tonne for some models. And if you're not sure how much your payload weighs, if you fit the optional overload indicator in the back of the van, then it can tell you when your payload is nearing the van's maximum carrying capacity.
There are two lengths of Berlingo, which are a little confusingly called M and XL (there's no small or large variants to slot between these two) and a single roof height is offered. These vans offer cargo space of 3.3 and 3.8 cubic metres respectively, although all models bar the entry level van feature the Extenso pack, which adds a through-loading bulkhead and an extra half a cubic metre of load space where the front passenger seats are located.
Citroen will also offer a Berlingo Crew Van, based on the XL body, in 2019. If you need a five-seat variant now, the only option is to choose the Vauxhall Combo Crew Van, which has been announced.
Four trim levels are offered. There's the basic Berlingo X for fleets, and the building site-friendly Worker model, while the Enterprise and Driver versions offer extra kit for small business users. M vans get a single sliding side door, while XL versions get double sliding doors, and both models get asymmetric double doors at the rear. All are steel as standard, but glazing can be added as an option. Inside, there are six lashing eyes set into the floor.
All vans come with a full steel bulkhead, while the X has a single passenger seat and the rest of the range features the Extenso pack, which adds two passenger seats, with the middle one featuring a folding backrest and the outer seat able to flip up or fold down if you're using the through-loading function to carry longer items.
Average Van Insurance Costs
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|Job Type||City||Out of City|
These are indicative prices based on a small volume of policy holders who meet the occupation and location criteria noted with Admiral Van Insurance, your individual price may vary. Based on vehicles aged 2015 or younger and policies sold from 1.7.17 to 31.7.18.
Worker vans feature Citroen's Grip Control system which adds hill descent control and switchable traction control for different surfaces, as well as mud and snow tyres. The Worker model also adds an electric handbrake, underbody protection and 30mm raised ground clearance.
In Europe, a 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder turbo petrol engine is available, but in the UK there are just 1.5 or 1.6 BlueHDi diesels. While the 1.5 BlueHDi is smaller, it's more powerful, with 130 badging signifying its output, compared to 75 and 100 variants of the 1.6 BlueHDi. The 1.5 will be offered in lower outputs and replace the 1.6 during 2019. At the moment it's only available in Enterprise and Driver vans, although it can also be had with Citroen's latest EAT8 automatic gearbox.
The Berlingo range is divided up further with different payload variants. There are 650, 950 and 1000 models, and these have payloads in the region of their model designation numbers - it does mean you can pay a bit less for a 950 model over a 1000, but you don't get quite as big a payload.
Prices for the Berlingo start from around £16,000 and rise to almost £23,000, excluding VAT, which is competitive for the sector.
There are a lot of rivals for the Berlingo in the small van class. Chief among these are the directly related Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo. These three are so similar that your final decision on which one to pick could be swayed simply by which firm has the nearest dealer and what kind of deal they are willing to offer. Elsewhere, the Ford Transit Connect is a popular choice, as is the Volkswagen Caddy, while models like the Renault Kangoo, Mercedes Citan and Fiat Doblo look somewhat dated in comparison to the Citroen.
In summary, the new Citroen Berlingo Van is a step change over its predecessor. While the old van was a simple workhorse that offered space and not much else, the latest version is a match for Citroen's passenger cars in terms of kit and comfort. There's plenty of safety kit as standard, while some of the options that are available only help to boost the van's user-friendliness even further, both in terms of safety and versatility.
The engine range is good, although the 1.5 BlueHDi is the one to go for, and we'd recommend holding out for the lower powered versions of this engine rather than opting for the older 1.6 diesel that's on offer at launch. Thanks to the car-derived tech under the skin, the Berlingo Van drives well, too, while the load area offers up to one tonne of payload capacity, making it a solid choice for mid-sized van buyers looking to downsize.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
The Citroen Berlingo Van is priced identically to the Peugeot Partner, which means they start from around £15,900 (ex VAT) for the basic Berlingo X, and rise to a maximum of £23,000 (ex VAT). The XL version is around £2,000 more than the M version, although not all M vans are also available as XL variants. In comparison, the Vauxhall Combo starts at a slightly higher price, but the most expensive model isn't as dear as the Citroen.
The M van gets a single sliding side door, while XL versions get two sliding doors, and all vans get asymmetric back doors that open through 180 degrees. Window glass is available as an option on all vans, while the full steel bulkhead can be had with glazing, too. All vans feature electric front windows, electric mirrors, six lashing eyes in the cargo floor plus remote central locking with deadlocks and separate cab locking to boost security. Auto lights, overhead storage, and reach and rake adjustable steering are also fitted, while electronic stability control, Citroen Connect emergency assistance and a driver's airbag lead the safety kit list.
The Worker model is a variant tailored to building site operations. It gets 30mm raised ride height and under body protection, as well as Grip Control with Mud & Snow tyres to give it some off-road ability.
Enterprise vans add the Extenso three-seater package with load-through bulkhead, which also adds an electric parking brake to create more legroom, while air-con, cruise control and rear parking sensors are also added. There's a multifunction steering wheel and touchscreen DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. On top of this, Driver versions get body coloured bumpers, alloy wheels, sat-nav and comfort seats.
However, you don't have to go for the top-spec model to load up with kit, because a lot of these bits are available as options on lower trims. This includes the panoramic rear camera system and blind spot camera mounted in the nearside wing mirror that boosts visibility. Other extras include a second sliding side door on M models, vinyl load floor coverings and even a head-up display.
If you're after the best miles per gallon, then the best engine at launch is the 1.6 BlueHDi 100. This has combined best of 67.3mpg in Enterprise and Driver guises, while the Worker with its raised ride height and Mud & Snow tyres manages 65.7mpg with the same motor. In comparison, the BlueHDi 75 doesn't feature stop-start, so manages 64.2mpg. These figures are for the M body, move to XL and the BlueHDi 100 returns 65.7mpg (61.4mpg for Worker vans).
The top-spec 1.5 BlueHDi 130 also has stop-start, and as it's a newer engine it delivers improved efficiency, managing 64.2mpg with the six-speed manual in both van sizes, and 65.7mpg with the EAT8 eight-speed auto. All vans have a 50-litre fuel tank, plus an AdBlue tank capacity of 17 litres.
Load Space and Practicality
The Citroen Berlingo Van uses the front section of the PSA Group's EMP2 chassis combined with a revised rear end sourced from the previous generation Berlingo. Changes to the suspension and load floor, as well as the new van's more upright body, mean the Berlingo M has a load volume of 3.3 cubic metres, while the XL version has an extended wheelbase and longer rear overhang to make 3.9 cubic metres of space as standard.
All models bar the entry level Berlingo X feature the Extenso pack, which creates additional loading capacity and adds two passenger seats. The steel bulkhead gets a removable panel that detaches to reveal a 612x298mm access hatch which allows longer items up to 3.1 metres long (3.4m in the XL) to be loaded into the van. In addition, this adds a vinyl cargo bag to protect the cab from damage by longer objects.
The outer front seat folds down to allow longer items to be carried, while the outer seat base can also flip up to add a 500 litre storage area in the front of the van. In addition, the middle seat flips down to double as a tray table.
A load height of 548mm for M models and 571mm for the XL boosts access, and load length without the Extenso system in use is 1.82 metres, or 2.17 metres for the XL. Width between the wheelarches is 1.23 metres, so overall there's enough room for two Europallets in the back of the Berlingo. Rear door openings measure 1.24 metres wide by 1.2 metres high, and the side doors measure 1.07 metres high.
Other useful features that are available include an Overload indicator, which uses sensors to detect when your payload is nearing or exceeding the maximum permissible amount. This system is only advisory, and it doesn't take into account passengers up front that will make up the gross vehicle weight, but if you are pulled over while overloaded, the indicator on the dashboard will tell the police or VOSA inspector that you were aware of the overloaded cargo area.
Reliability and Safety
One area where the Citroen Berlingo really pulls ahead of the small van pack is with the amount of cutting edge tech it features. As it uses the same EMP2 chassis technology as the Citroen C4 SpaceTourer up front, Citroen has been able to fit the same driving and safety assist systems. You get a driver's airbag as standard (passenger, side and curtain airbags are available as an option), plus a full-height steel bulkhead between the cargo and passenger areas. Safety kit includes electronic stability control with hill start assist and ABS with emergency assist and brake force distribution.
Tyre pressure monitors are standard on all models bar the base Berlingo X, and a spare wheel is standard on all models. Go for a Worker version, and you get Citroen's switchable Grip Control system that can help you negotiate slippery surfaces such as snow, ice, mud and sand. The Worker is designed to cope with life on building sites, so it also comes with 30mm of extra ground clearance and Mud & Snow tyres for improved traction. These do harm fuel efficiency a little, though.
Citroen offers a Safety Pack and Safety Pack Plus on the Berlingo Van. The former is available on all models for around £800 extra, and adds forward collision warning, lane assist and speed limit recognition, while the Plus pack (around £1,000 extra on Worker models and above) also adds auto main beam headlights, a tiredness alert and road sign recognition.
Also available is Surround Rear Vision, a suite of cameras designed to make rearward visibility better. This adds a rear camera and second camera on the nearside door mirror, and is a substitute for the rear-view mirror - images are even relayed to a 5-inch screen up where the mirror would normally be mounted. The side-view camera, which boosts vision in the nearside blind spot has a rather wide angle, making it a bit tricky to see coming traffic until it's nearly upon you, but it's still a handy extra to help with positioning on the road. Citroen also offers Flank Guard, which uses side sensors to warn of hidden obstructions in the driver's blind spot.
Re-using existing parts from within the PSA Group should help the Berlingo to be a reliable van for business users. The electronics and safety systems that are part of the EMP2 platform have been around for a few years now, while the rear load area uses similar components to the previous Berlingo. Engine wise, the 1.6 BlueHDi is a long standing motor, but the 1.5 BlueHDi is brand-new. However, it's being introduced in a vast array of Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall models, so the PSA Group engineers will have tested it exhaustively to ensure its reliability.
Security features include remote central locking with separate locking for the cab and load area, an engine immobiliser, a visible VIN plate and hidden rear door hinges - a first for the Berlingo. Enterprise and Driver versions add an alarm which can also alert you if your van has been the victim of an attempted break-in while you're away from the vehicle.
Driving and Performance
An all-diesel line-up is available at launch, while the 1.2 PureTech petrol turbo three-cylinder is offered in Europe straight away, and is likely to appear in 2019. There are 1.5 and 1.6 BlueHDi motors, although the 1.6 is an older and less efficient unit that will be replaced by September 2019, when the WLTP economy tests come into full effect. The 1.6 engines are badged 75 and 100 and have 74bhp and 98bhp respectively. These will be replaced by the 1.5 BlueHDi in lower power outputs than the current 130 motor, which has 128bhp. Stop-start is standard on all engines bar the 75PS motor.
The 1.6 BlueHDi has a five-speed manual, while the 1.5 BlueHDi has either a six-speed manual or eight-speed EAT8 auto, and all vans are front-wheel drive. The BlueHDi 100 is a good performer, but the five-speed gearbox doesn't make the most of the power on offer with long gears, although refinement at higher speeds is good.
Decent sound deadening helps to make the cabin more refined than the older Berlingo, but the 1.5 BlueHDi is even better still in that regard. Adding a six-speed gearbox to the 1.5 makes the most of the power on offer, and there's no lack of urge to help haul heavy payloads.
The Berlingo is comfortable on the move, with supportive seats and a natural driving position, helped by the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel. Big windows and mirrors give a good view out, so much so that the extra camera systems may seem a frivolous addition. However, the side camera does boost blind spot vision, and the rear camera is a useful when reversing.
Light steering helps with low-speed driving and parking, while the electric parking brake takes some strain out of everyday driving, too.
Cab and Interior
The big difference between the Citroen Berlingo and its Peugeot Partner sister model is the dashboard layout. While Peugeot sticks with its i-Cockpit layout in the Partner with a small steering wheel and dials above the wheel, the Citroen has a conventional layout, with a standard wheel and dials set behind it: with the two models so similar in terms of spec and price, this dashboard design could be what makes you choose between the Citroen or Peugeot options.
In the Citroen, the layout is clear and easy to get on with, and the separate controls for the infotainment and climate are useful. However, the climate controls are set a little back on the dashboard, with the lower buttons partially obscured by the air vents. At least the steering wheel controls on Enterprise models and above help to operate various functions.
Space is good on board, with plenty of headroom and room above for a storage shelf. Two-seat models have plenty of room, with a flip-up armrest for the driver, but there's no additional storage between the seats. Two-seaters have a manual handbrake, but going for the Extenso twin passenger seats replaces this with an electric handbrake.
These seats are a little narrow in comparison with the single-seat layout, especially knee room for the middle seat passenger, but the added flexibility of the seats compensates for this. The outer seat flips up to create additional storage, while the back folds down to allow extra-long items to be loaded through from the cargo area. Even better is the addition of a vinyl bag that helps protect the cabin from damage.
The middle seat is small, but the back can be folded down to create a tray table. This is in addition to a tray on top of the middle of the dashboard, while there's a lidded bin above the dials, too. There are also twin gloveboxes, with a large upper storage area with room for a 15-inch laptop inside. The lower glovebox is slightly compromised by the fuse box, but it's not as severely impacted as some other models.
Also included are decent door bins, as well as 12-volt sockets and USB charging connections, while extra charging can also be added in the load area.
|M panel van||1,840mm||1,848mm||4,403mm|
|XL panel van||1,840mm||1,848mm||4,753mm|
|Worker panel van||1,860mm||1,848mm||4,403mm|
Load area dimensions
|M standard van||1,236mm||1,550mm||1,817mm||3.3m3|
|XL long wheelbase van||1,243mm||1,550mm||2,167mm||3.8m3|
|M with Extenso||1,236mm||1,550mm||3,090mm||3.9m3|
|XL with Extenso||1,243mm||1,550mm||3,440mm||4.4m3|
(Width between wheel arches: 1,229mm)