Citroen Berlingo Van review
The Citroen Berlingo Van adds passenger-car tech to make it a front runner in the small van class
The Citroen Berlingo Van is a big player in the small van sector, and the spiritual successor to compact vans such as the 2CV Van and Visa-based C15. The third-generation model is a significant upgrade over its predecessors, mainly because it incorporates technology from the Citroen passenger car range to boost safety and user-friendliness for drivers.
The boxy body maximises the load space inside, while the Berlingo shares its basic bodyshell and running gear with the Peugeot Partner, Vauxhall Combo and Fiat Doblo. However, the design of the front end 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 in 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, so that 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 variant 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 higher-spec models feature a through-loading bulkhead and an extra half a cubic metre of load space where the front passenger seats are located. There is also the Berlingo Crew Van, which is based on the XL bodystyle but comes with five seats.
Just two trim levels are offered. There’s the entry-level Enterprise Edition (the only spec the Crew Van comes in) and the more generously equipped Driver Edition. 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 Enterprise Edition has a single passenger seat, and Driver Edition vans get the Extenso Pack as standard. This adds two passenger seats, with the middle one featuring a folding backrest, while the outer seat can flip up or fold down if you're using the through-loading function to carry longer items. It is a £450 optional extra on base models, however.
You can also add the Worksite Pack, which includes underbody protection, 30mm extra ground clearance, mud and snow tyres and Citroen's Grip Control system that includes hill descent control and switchable traction control for different surfaces.
The Berlingo is offered with a choice of 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, a 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel and a fully electric powertrain. The PureTech 110 petrol is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, as is the BlueHDi 100 diesel, but an eight-speed EAT8 automatic transmission comes with the more powerful BlueHDi 130. Meanwhile, the zero-emissions e-Berlingo uses a 50kWh battery and a single motor to drive the front wheels, just like its petrol and diesel counterparts.
Prices for the Berlingo start from around £19,000 (excluding VAT) and rise to over £32,000 for the fully electric e-Berlingo, 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, Vauxhall Combo, Fiat Doblo and Toyota Proace City. These five are so similar that your final decision on which one to pick could be swayed simply by which brand 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 the new Renault Kangoo, Mercedes Citan and Nissan Townstar have just arrived and are also available in some combination of diesel, petrol or EV form.
In summary, the latest 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, this small van now matches Citroen's passenger cars in terms of kit and comfort. There's plenty of safety kit as standard, while some of the options only help to boost the van's user-friendliness even further, both in terms of safety and versatility. 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 range starts from around £19,300 (ex VAT), rising to just over £21,500 for the Driver Edition spec. XL versions also cost around £2,000 more than the equivalent M version, while the Crew Van model is priced at over £22,500.
As you’d expect, the pure-electric e-Berlingo costs considerably more to buy than the equivalent diesel or petrol van – about £10,000 to be exact. However, it’s the same story with all vans in this class, and the e-Berlingo should cost less to run in the long term.
According to Citroen, the e-Berlingo’s 50kWh battery allows it to cover up to 167 miles in mixed driving conditions, or 257 miles if you stick to driving in town. That’s plenty for those carrying out last-mile deliveries in cities like London, and just a few miles shy of its newer competitor, the Renault Kangoo E-Tech. A maximum charging speed of 100kW means you can top up from zero to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes, while a standard 7.4kW home wallbox will fully recharge the van’s battery in seven and a half hours.
Admittedly, the e-Berlingo’s range won’t suit those who need to haul cargo from the Isle of Wight to the Isle of Skye. So, if you're after the ultimate miles per gallon, then the best engine is the BlueHDi 100. This 1.5 diesel has a combined best of 56.5mpg in Enterprise and Driver guises. The BlueHDI 130 lags slightly, returning 54.3mpg at best, while the PureTech 110 can only muster 45mpg. All three engines feature a start-stop system, plus an AdBlue tank capacity of 17 litres for the diesels.
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 list of safety kit.
Air-con and cruise control are all standard-fit on Enterprise Edition Berlingos. Base models also get a touchscreen DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a Thatcham category 1 approved alarm. Driver Edition trim adds the Extenso three-seat package and a load-through bulkhead, plus an electric parking brake to create more legroom. Other standard kit includes a multifunction steering wheel, rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and sat-nav.
You don't have to go for the top-spec model to load up with kit, however, because a lot of these bits are available as options on lower trims.
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 both the Berlingo and e-Berlingo M have a load volume of 3.3 cubic metres, while the XL versions have an extended wheelbase and a longer rear overhang to make 3.9 cubic metres of space as standard.
Vans fitted with the Extenso pack get additional loading capacity, thanks to a removable panel in the steel bulkhead that detaches to reveal a 612x298mm access hatch. This allows larger items up to 3.1 metres long (3.4m in the XL) to be loaded into the van. The pack also includes 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 in 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
Because the Berlingo uses the same EMP2 chassis technology as the now-discontinued 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 (a passenger airbag is 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, and a spare wheel is standard on all models. Add the Worksite pack and you get Citroen's switchable Grip Control system that can help you negotiate slippery surfaces such as snow, ice, mud and sand. It also comes with 30mm of extra ground clearance and Mud & Snow tyres for improved traction. These are likely to harm fuel efficiency a little, though.
Citroen offers a Safety Pack on the Berlingo Van. It costs £670, and for that you get Active Lane Departure Assist, Driver Attention Alert, Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation, extended traffic-sign recognition, smart beam headlights and front fog lights.
Another optional extra is a Surround Rear Vision set-up, which includes front and rear parking sensors, and side and rear cameras; you can view the feed from these on a five-inch display that’s fitted where the rear-view 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.
Considering the Berlingo shares parts, engines and EV running gear with numerous other models from Peugeot, Fiat, Vauxhall and Toyota, we have no doubt it will 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. The Van’s 1.5 BlueHDi engine was brand-new a few years ago, and we’ve yet to hear of any major issues concerning the three-cylinder diesel. That said, as a general rule, EVs are often more reliable than their combustion-engined counterparts, and require less servicing too, which should save you money and give you better peace of mind.
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. All Berlingos are fitted with a Thatcham category 1 approved alarm and an immobiliser.
Driving and Performance
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 help to eliminate blind spots, and the rear camera is 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.
Decent sound deadening helps to make the Berlingo’s cabin more refined than its predecessors. The 1.5 BlueHDi’s six-speed manual gearbox makes the most of the power on offer, and there's no lack of urge to help haul heavy payloads.
The e-Berlingo’s electric motor actually delivers around 40Nm less torque than the most powerful diesel model but, because all of it is available from zero rpm, it doesn’t really feel any slower or leave you wanting a stronger pull. Switching between the Eco, Normal and Power drive modes does affect how much power is on tap, with the latter only really required if you’re carrying a heavy payload. There's also a 'B' mode on the gear selector, which increases the strength of the regenerative braking system to recover more energy when you slow down.
We found the e-Berlingo is considerably more relaxing to drive than the diesel model. Like most electric vans, there’s far less vibration and a lot less noise entering the cabin, plus having no gears to change will certainly make your delivery rounds or morning commute that little bit easier. The e-Berlingo even rides well with no cargo onboard, because the battery is located under floor between the axles, meaning the van’s mass is concentrated low down, which helps keep the chassis settled over rough tarmac.
Cab and Interior
The Citroen Berlingo Van is meant to be a workhorse, so the presence of hard scratchy plastics in the cabin shouldn’t come as a surprise. The cabin feels tough enough to soak up the sort of abuse they’re liable to cop from a life in the trades, and generally the little Citroen feels well built.
The big difference between the Citroen Berlingo and its Peugeot Partner sister model is the dashboard layout. Peugeot sticks with its i-Cockpit layout in the Partner – with a small steering wheel and dials above the wheel – but 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. The climate control panel is well thought-out, too. The temperature controls are chunky up-down toggle switches and the buttons for the air conditioning and demister are big and square, meaning you can operate them while wearing gloves – handy once chilly British winter approaches.
The Berlingo van shares its infotainment system with other Citroen passenger cars. We find the system itself looks smart enough, but some on-screen buttons are quite small and can be quite fiddly to hit while on the move. It’s not the most responsive system we’ve tested either. Thankfully, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard-fit on all versions.
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. The two-seaters also have a manual handbrake, but those with the Extenso pack and twin passenger seats replace this with an electric handbrake.
These seats are a little narrow in comparison with the single-seat layout – especially in terms of knee room for the middle 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)