Citroen Berlingo L2 Crew Van Review
|Facts At A Glance|
LOAD VOLUME: 2.4– 3.35m3
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 2,130kg
CitroenBerlingo L2 Crew Van Range- BERLINGO PLUS THREE
Withthree extra seats, five’s company in Citroen’s Berlingo Crew Van.
There are all kinds of practicalapplications for which a van is tailor-made but carrying passengersisn’t one of them. There’s usually room for one or maybe two in thefront next to the driver, depending on the model of van we’re talkingabout, but any more than that and you’re stumped. Or are you? The crewvan is an innovation that addresses precisely this problem,incorporating a second row of seating for more passengers whileretaining the van’s commercial vehicle classification for tax purposes.
Crew vans are commonplace in larger panel van ranges but Citroen offersone based on its compact Berlingo dubbed the 725 L2 Crew Van.
Anyvan driver who’s ever found their vehicle’s seating allocation to be afew short of what’s necessary will appreciate the Berlingo Crew Van.Specifically, the vehicle is likely to be handy for companies needingto get a team of staff and equipment from A to B but it’s also a boonfor owner operators who might have need of extra seats for domesticduties on weekends. The vehicle is still classed as a van, remember, sobusinesses can reclaim the VAT and company car users pay a lower rateof tax than they would on a car.
It’sthe Berlingo’s gutsiest engine that gets the job of powering the CrewVan. The 90bhp 1.6-litre HDi might not sound like much but it deliversits 215Nm maximum torque from just 1,750rpm. The long wheelbaseBerlingo L2 tips the scales at a gross vehicle weight of around2,130kg, which is roughly 200kg more than the original. With the CrewVan modifications, it’s heavier still and as a result, performanceisn’t particularly sprightly. At least that sizable torque outputensures there’s enough pulling power for most situations you’llencounter. Fuel economy is another major boon with the diesel enginereturning 48.5mpg on the combined cycle.
Thelatest Berlingo actually shares its basic platform with the Citroen C4Picasso MPV. It uses independent front suspension and a transverse beamwith angled shock absorbers at the rear with anti-roll bars featuringat both ends. On the road, this larger Berlingo feels less agile andimmediate in its responses than the original but most operators willaccept a slight loss there, and in terms of cornering body control,because the van’s ride comfort and refinement are both very impressive.Road and engine noise are well contained making sure that big distancesfly by and the steering is light, combining with the tight 11m turningcircle to aid manoeuvring. Only the five-speed manual gearbox is a reallet down with its sloppy long throw action.
"Asecond row of seats that boosts total capacity to five opens up a rangeof interesting possibilities for operators"
Thisisn’t just a case of Citroen bolting three extra seats to the loadfloor of a long wheelbase Berlingo: considerably more thought has goneinto the Crew Van package. In the front, there’s a standard driver andpassenger seat arrangement. Behind that is a further row comprised of athree-berth bench seat. When the Berlingo is in load carrying mode, thebacks of the second row chairs can be folded down and the bases liftedforward to maximise the space available for the cargo. The cleverestbit, however, is the mesh bulkhead that separates the passengercompartment from the cargo to improve safety. It’s attached to theseats in the second row and as they are folded out of the way, itslides forward along rails mounted on the ceiling to a position justbehind the driver and front passenger. The safety barrier remainsintact but the full load space is still available.
Accessto the rear seats is via the sliding side doors that come as standardbut they aren’t glazed so occupants in the back don’t have much of aview out. The total payload capacity of the Crew Van is 716kg and theload length varies between 1,320mm and 1,805mm depending on theposition of the second row seats. With the seats in use 2.4m3 of loadspace is available and once they’re folded, this total increases to3,35m3.
There’san abundance of storage space inside the Berlingo and numerous cleversolutions ready to swallow up all the paraphernalia of your workingday. The door pockets prove particularly useful but the large dash areaoften ends up doubling up as a shelf for casually chucked bits ofpaper. These tend to slide off if you accelerate too sharply, areminder that they shouldn’t really have been there in the first place.The materials are tough, though anyone looking for the soft-touchplastics or shiny finishes you get in modern cars will be disappointed,but build quality is good and there’s a durable feel throughout whichdoes much to inspire confidence.
Inthe rear, carrying isn’t in short supply. It’s tough to fault thedesign of the load bay which suffers from minimal wheelarch intrusionand has a very low loading lip, which is perfect when hoisting bulkyitems inside. The large payload capacity and load volume in L2Berlingos like the crew van could make some operators question the needfor a full-size panel van.
Standardequipment on the Crew Van includes central locking and electric frontwindows plus head restraints and three-point seatbelts for all fiveseats. The unglazed sliding side doors are included too, as areunglazed side-hinged rear doors. Citroen has also done a deal withTrafficmaster Smartnav and their satellite navigation system comes asstandard. It incorporates a stolen vehicle tracking system and trafficinformation functions.
Fromthe outside, there’s nothing to identify the Citroen Berlingo Crew Vanas anything other than a conventional compact van. Inside, a second rowof seats that boosts total capacity to five opens up a range ofinteresting possibilities for operators. With no impact on theBerlingo’s status as a commercial vehicle for taxation purposes, theCrew Van specification could be very handy for those who need their vanto fill a diverse range of roles.