In-depth reviews

Citroen Relay van review

The Citroen Relay panel van is a versatile and practical van that shares its platform with the Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Versatile body, efficient Euro 6 engines, plenty of kit
  • Not the best to drive, no automatic option

The Citroen Relay has been a popular panel van for many years, in part due to some favourable finance offers from Citroen. It first arrived in 2006, and in 2014 an updated and improved version was launched to keep it up to date with its main rivals: the Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter. It was updated again in 2016 with the addition of Euro 6 emissions-compliant diesel engines.

The Citroen Relay, known as the Jumper in other markets, is built on a platform shared with the Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato - in fact, there are so few differences between the three vans that it can be hard to tell them apart. The one big difference is under that short bonnet, where Fiat uses one range of engines and PSA opts for a different line-up. Peugeot and Citroen updated their vans in 2016 by downsizing from the previous 2.2-litre motors to a new line of BlueHDi 2.0-litre diesels, though power outputs are almost unchanged.

Citroen says its focus on long-term running costs and its relationship with customers is the top reason to buy the Relay over its sister vans - but all three stand out for their distinctive styling. The Relay has new headlights and a grille inspired by the new range of Citroen cars, with large chevrons that blend into chrome strips on the nose. The optional LED strip inside the headlights is a nice touch, too.

The Relay has also been updated in more important areas - the doors and brakes have been tested and upgraded for durability, the engine range has been updated to improve emissions and economy, and interior quality has taken a step forward with extra options on the spec sheet. Sat-nav, a reversing camera, auto wipers, lane departure warning and tyre pressure sensors are all available.

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The 2.0-litre engines in the Relay offer 110hp, 130hp and a new range-topping 160hp, with stop-start available on the BlueHDi 130 version. All drive through a six-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels, with no automatic transmission option.

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Payload capacities range from 1,115kg to 1,900kg, and load volumes go from 8 cubic metres in the L1H1 version to 17 cubic metres in the L4H3, which is the longest and tallest model. The Relay can also be had in a range of formats, including chassis cab, tipper, dropside and Luton, plus a host of the firm’s Ready To Run conversions.

Updates have helped to keep Relay in contention with rivals, and while it can't quite match the Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter in terms of driving, it does have a solid equipment list, a wide range of body styles and a practical cabin and load area.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

The smallest H1L1 van promises the lowest running costs in the range, though with stop-start system fitted to the 130hp engine makes that the most economical. Citroen promises emissions of 154g/km for the 130hp with S&S, rising to 158g/km for either the 110hp or the standard 130hp motor in that smallest body. The 160hp engine is only available in larger Relay models, where it develops 163-173g/km, depending on model.

The long-term running costs of the Relay are a key factor for many customers, and the brand has worked hard to make sure the van pulls its weight over its whole lifetime. For example, the front bumper has been designed to separate into three parts - so that if the driver has a bump, only a small section will need to be repaired or changed.

Similarly, the tyres fitted were chosen specifically because they are a common and cost-effective size, so a van with a puncture will not be off the road for long while the right tyres are sourced.

Load Space and Practicality

With four body lengths and three different heights, the Citroen Relay matches the Peugeot Boxer and Fiat Ducato for load space - and that means it has one of the best capacities in its class, as well as impressive versatility. Do note that the largest versions of the Relay weigh over four tonnes, so for some drivers an HGV licence and tachograph will be required.

The Relay has one of the widest load bays in this class of van, at 1,870mm between partitions and 1,422mm between the inner wheel arches. That means it can fit a Europallet in flat, and you can also load it into the side door, which is 1,250mm wide. The reinforced doors should help prevent damage if the forklift driver misses the gap, too.

The H3 versions of the Relay are top of the class at 2,172mm high, beating the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter by about 30mm in that area. The standard steel bulkhead has plenty of fixing points, and fits the full height of the van.

The rear doors open to 260 degrees, although this isn't easy to do with one hand. A side door on the nearside is standard, and a second on the offside is also available. 

Reliability and Safety

The improved durability of the parts used on the new Relay should help its reliability, although it has never had a poor reputation in this area. The diesel engines in the range have been strong and there is no reason to believe that things will change with the 2.0-litre motors. 

This latest model was subject to a rigorous testing programme before release. To put the new parts through their paces, Citroen conducted over 4million kilometres of test driving and 500,000 door slams.

Stability control, hill-start assist, ABS and emergency braking are all standard on the Relay, while the larger models also get a lane departure warning (optional on smaller vans). A driver's airbag comes as standard, too. The improved brakes on the new model should boost safety as well.

Driving and Performance

The Citroen Relay is fairly easy to drive, with light steering, decent forward visibility and a logical interior layout. The gearbox isn't the best either, with a lumpy shift, although the lever's position on the dash is comfortable enough to use.

All the engines remain pretty strong, with the 130 model powerful enough to stay in top gear most of the time when on the motorway. Choose the power output depending on the amount of load you're expecting to carry, because without anything in the back there's not too much between them.

Citroen Relay - interior shot 2

The ride in the Relay is reasonably good, even without a load in the back. Over bumpy back roads the optional suspended driver's seat soaks up most of the bumps, but it gets irritating on faster roads - it undulates up and down, tightening and loosening your seatbelt. The Ford Transit is top of its class for ride quality, and the Mercedes Sprinter has more comfortable seats. Volkswagen's new front-wheel drive Crafter also offers a better combination of ride and comfort.

Cab and Interior

The interior on the current Relay is better than the previous models, but it still all feels very utilitarian. However, the addition of a small touchscreen display (optional) does make it feel more modern inside.

If you can stretch to the additional £800 it is well worth moving up from the standard trim to Enterprise specification. This adds air conditioning, cruise control with a speed limiter, the touchscreen audio pack with the 5-inch colour screen and steering wheel controls, rear parking sensors and a perimetric alarm.

The reversing camera and parking sensors are good options as well, making reversing into a tight spot less of a pain. The screen for the reversing camera displays two yellow lines that represent the rear doors, so you can park up without fear you won't get the doors open at the back.

Citroen Relay - interior shot

The cabin has 13 different storage spaces, including a large overhead area and a locking central glovebox to keep valuables safe while loading and unloading. 

The Relay comes with three seats as standard, including a pull-down table in the centre, but this can be done away with via the options list (at no cost).

Van dimensions

Body styleHeightWidthLength
L1H1 low roof van2,254mm2,050mm4,963mm
L2H1 low roof van2,254mm2,050mm5,413mm
L2H2 medium roof van2,524mm2,050mm5,413mm
L3H2 medium roof van2,524mm2,050mm5,998mm
L3H3 high roof van2,764mm2,050mm5,998mm
L4H2 medium roof van2,524mm2,050mm6,363mm
L4H3 high roof van2,764mm2,050mm6,363mm

(Width including door mirrors: 2,508mm)

Load area dimension

Body styleHeightWidthLengthVolume
L1H1 low roof van1,662mm1,870mm2,670mm8.0m3
L2H1 low roof van1,662mm1,870mm3,120mm10.0m3
L2H2 medium roof van1,623mm1,870mm3,120mm11.5m3
L3H2 medium roof van1,932mm1,870mm3,705mm13.0m3
L3H3 high roof van2,172mm1,870mm3,705mm15.0m3
L4H2 medium roof van1,932mm1,870mm4,070mm15.0m3
L4H3 high roof van2,172mm1,870mm4,070mm17.0m3

(Width between wheel arches: 1,422mm)

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