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Car group tests

Space age: Mercedes Citan Traveliner vs rivals

Can the Mercedes Citan Traveliner give established van-based MPVs a run for their money?

Mercedes Citan group test

When it comes to getting the most family car for your money, van-based MPV models take some beating. With their vast interiors, simple mechanicals and eye-catchingly low price tags, these no-nonsense machines are perfect for growing families on a budget.

Traditionally, this sector has been dominated by French manufacturers, but recently there’s been an influx of utilitarian competition from rival brands. Leading the charge is Mercedes, with its spacious new Citan.

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Yet look beyond the desirable three-pointed star and you’ll find that this model is actually a rebadged Renault Kangoo, which was one of the class leaders before the French brand pulled it from UK price lists in 2013.

Another all-new contender is the Ford Tourneo Connect. Based on the Transit Connect van, the vast machine aims to deliver a winning blend of space, sharp driving dynamics and cutting-edge kit.

Completing our trio is the VW Caddy Maxi Life. It’s the old stager here, but its combination of space, quality and grown-up driving dynamics means it’s a tough competitor.

So which one of our robust, roomy and great-value MPVs makes the most sense? 

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More reviews for Citan

Mercedes Citan Traveliner review

Ford Tourneo Connect review

VW Caddy Maxi Life review

Read individual reviews by clicking the links above, and read on to find out which MPV comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Measuring up

When it comes to interior space, there’s very little to separate our trio. The Caddy has the longest side doors, making entry to the rear bench easier, while the Ford’s standard panoramic roof gives the cabin an even more airy feel. All our contenders are comfortable for even the tallest passengers, but the Citan is the only car that’s a strict five-seater – both the Caddy and Tourneo are available as extended seven-seaters.

Running costs

The Citan emits the least C02 here, at 119g/km, plus we recorded 52.0mpg at the pumps. In 113bhp 1.6-litre TDCi guise, the Ford emits 130g/km, while the 94bhp model with stop/start claims 10g/km less. The Caddy emits 152g/km, which drops to 136g/km with the £486 BlueMotion kit.

Commercial roots

You don’t have to look hard to find clues to our contenders’ commercial vehicle origins. For starters, they all look like vans, while their interior finishes favour function over form. Even so, there are some neat touches, such as the huge door mirrors that make parking the Tourneo easy.

Verdict

1st place: Ford Tourneo Connect

In the end, the Tourneo Connect walked this test. The flagship Titanium model hides its van roots fantastically well with generous kit and a level of cabin quality that’s on a par with the Focus hatch. It’s not quite as economical as the Citan, but it more than makes up for this with punchy performance and car-like driving manners – all at a price that undercuts rivals here by £2,000.

2nd place: Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life

It’s showing its age, but the long-body Caddy Maxi offers one of the biggest boots you’ll find anywhere, plus a seven-seat layout. It’s just as easy to drive as a VW Golf and feels rock-solid, too, but the hard plastics and functional interior remind you that this is a commercial vehicle. Even with BlueMotion tweaks it’s dirty, and it’s pricey when compared to the Ford.

3rd place: Mercedes Citan Traveliner

You have to wonder who is going to buy the Citan Traveliner. While it’s economical, and the folding seats are a neat touch, the engine feels wheezy and the basic interior means it feels the most van-like here. That would be fine if it felt like a Mercedes inside, but the obvious Renault switchgear means you feel short-changed, especially when you consider the price tag.

Mercedes Citan vs Ford Tourneo Connect & VW Caddy Maxi Life: key figures & specs

 Ford Tourneo Connect 1.6 TDCi TitaniumVolkswagen Caddy Maxi Life C20 1.6 TDI BMT Mercedes Citan Traveliner 109 CDI
On the road price/total as tested£17,995/£18,595£20,897/£20,767£20,004/£20,367
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£789/£1,579£949/£1,899£760/£1,520
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,683/£2,805£1,836/£3,061£1,531/£2,552
Insurance group/road tax band/cost11/D/£11011/E/£1309/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£350 (2yrs)£360 (2yrs)£179/£275/£179
    
Length/wheelbase4,418/2,660mm4,876/3,006mm4,321/2,697mm
Height/width1,852/1,966mm1,831/1,794mm1,809/1,829mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,560cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power/revs 113/3,600 bhp/rpm101/4,400 bhp/rpm89/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 285/1,750 Nm/rpm250/1,500 Nm/rpm200/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel60 litres/full size60 litres/full size 60 litres/full size
Boot capacity (seats up/down)913/2,410 litresN/A/3,200 litres685/3,000 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,477/578/1,200kg1,747/598/1,300kg1,380/570/1,050kg
Turning circle11.3 metres12.2 metres11.2 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (100,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers20k miles (1yr)/781Variable/97 Variable/80
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos25th/27th19th/31st9th/21st
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars84/84/74/44/5/2 stars79/81/56/4
    
0-60/30-70mph11.9/12.7 secs12.1/13.4 secs12.8/14.4 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 5.2/7.9 secs5.0/8.4 secs5.2/7.5 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.0/16.3 secs13.0 secs/N/A13.0 secs/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 102mph/1,800rpm106mph/2,200rpmN/A/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 53.2/38.7/10.8m55.0/38.2/10.0m52.0/38.3/10.0m
Auto Express economy/range43.2/9.5/570 miles42.8/8.7/565 miles47.5/10.4/627 miles
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph66/48/61/69dB71/50/62/72dB70/47/63/72dB
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 50.4/61.4/57.6mpg47.1/58.8/54.3mpg60.1/67.3/65.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 11.1/13.5/12.7mpl10.4/12.9/11.9mpl13.2/14.8/14.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket175/130g/km/22%191/136g/km/23%159/119g/km/19%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/£240Six/yes/£305/noSix/yes/£275/no
Alloy wheels/tyre pressure monitorYes/yesYes/no£686*/yes
Auto box/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yes£1,575/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/heated seatsYes/£120No/£255No/no
Metallic paint/keyless go£360/no£450/no£390/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB/Bluetooth£900/yes/yes/yes£565/£165/£175/£295No/yes/no/yes
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