Citroen Berlingo Van Review
|Facts At A Glance|
BHP:75bhp - 90bhp
PAYLOAD CAPACITY:625kg - 850kg
LOAD VOLUME:3.3m3 - 3.7m3
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 1,960kg – 2,185kg
LENGTH:4,380mm – 4,628mm
May 10th 2008
CitroenBerlingo Van Review - LEARNING THEBER-LINGO
Citroen’sBerlingo is bigger than you might expect but does size matter?
Citroen’sBerlingo is one of the larger compact vans on the UK market offering apayloads of up to 850kg and a maximum load volume of 3.7m3. The smoothdiesel engines produce strong fuel economy figures and pricing iscompetitive. The driving experience isn’t as perky as some would likebut the comfort and refinement are both a match for the sector’s bestefforts.
Thestar turn in Citroen’s LCV line-up has long been the Berlingo van. Theoriginal model was launched in the UK in 1996 and it proved extremelypopular with its straightforward design and robust construction. Nowthere’s another Berlingo on the scene but anyone expecting a like forlike replacement of the original will be disappointed. Citroen hasdiversified its van range, shunting the Berlingo up in terms of sizeand sophistication.
Youcould level the criticism at some manufacturers that, in terms ofimportance, their commercial vehicles come a poor second to theirpassenger cars. This is understandable as the potential sales volumesin the car sector usually dwarf those in van land. Any right-thinkingcompany will divert resources to where they can generate the biggestincomes but the trick is to make sure that van buyers still feel likethey’re important. From the dealer level right up to the boardroom,Citroen does that better than most. It’s a commitment that has beenrewarded by businesses across Europe where one in seven Citroenproducts sold is a commercial vehicle.
Motiveforce for the Berlingo comes in the most part from Citroen’s familiar1.6-litre HDi diesel engines. There is a 90bhp 1.6-litre petrolalternative but takers for that one will be in the minority. The dieselchoice comes down to a 75bhp unit with torque of 185Nm at 1,750rpm orthe 90bhp alternative which delivers its 215Nm at the same enginespeed. The Berlingo now tips the scales at gross vehicle weightsbetween 1,960kg and 2,130kg, depending on your choice of bodystyle,which is around 200kg more than the original. As a result, performanceisn’t particularly sprightly but those sizable torque outputs ensurethere’s enough pulling power for most situations you’ll encounter. Fueleconomy is another major boon with both diesel engines returning anidentical 48.5mpg and the petrol partially explaining its modest uptakewith 34.5mpg.
"Today’sBerlingo has been given the wherewithalto tempt buyers down from theirlarger panel vans"
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. The five-speed manual gearbox is somethingof a let down with its sloppy long throw action.
Thereare two Berlingo bodystyles to consider and both are on the large sideof what we expect from a compact van. Both versions share a 2,728mmwheelbase but the longer L2 model has 248mm extra tagged on behind. Itmeans that even the smaller L1 is 4,380mm in length, that’s 243mmlonger than the original Berlingo with 350mm extra in the wheelbasedepartment. Payloads range from 625kg to 850kg, a sizable carryingcapacity that edges awfully close to that of some small panel vans atits top end.
Thespace in the rear is accessed through side hinged rear doors which opento nearly 180 degrees and reveal a compartment that’s 1,800mm long inthe L1 version and never less than 1,229mm wide. Sliding side doors areavailable as options as is a hinged roof flap through which long itemscan be poked. The loading lip at the rear is nice and low and the loadbay gets excellent protection from its contents courtesy of panellingthat extends halfway up the sides of the vehicle. The standard bulkheadis a ladder frame behind the driver’s seat only and an unusual touch isthe load compartment light that can be detached and used as a torch.
Citroenoffers the Berlingo in two trim levels, X and LX. Standard equipmentincludes ABS brakes, a trip computer, a CD stereo, central locking,electric front windows and internally adjustable door mirrors. The LXadds remote central locking, heated electric wing mirrors and anexternal temperature sensor. There’s also the considerable pullingpower of a standard Trafficmaster Smartnav satellite navigation andvehicle tracking system. An interesting option is the All-Road packwhich is designed for Berlingos regularly faced with rough surfaceswith larger tyres and under body protection.
It’swould be understandable if people who maintain a close eye on the lightcommercial vehicle market were mildly flummoxed by the CitroenBerlingo. The various small van contenders used to fit into convenientmarket sectors but Citroen has branched out in offering this largerBerlingo model along with the smaller Nemo which sits below. TheBerlingo is tasked with pinching sales from the smaller models in thepanel van sector as well as doing battle with direct competitors likeFord’s long wheelbase Transit Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi.
Internally,the Citroen Berlingo is an impressive piece of work with good qualitymaterials and neat design. The storage space is abundant and cleversolutions abound ready to swallow up all the paraphernalia of yourworking day. In the two-seater Berlingo, the single passenger seatfolds down to reveal a desk and cup holders.
Thespace in the Berlingo’s cabin is immediately noticeable. It’s wide withplenty of room for driver and passenger. Problems start to arise whenyou specify the three-seat model, a highly unusual inclusion on a vanof this size. The protruding dash mounted gear lever makes the middleberth virtually uninhabitable by anyone with legs and Citroen’s claimthat this "occasional seat" is ideal for young children seems a mootpoint. The few remaining chimney sweeps might be interested but in thisday and age, taking your child to work on a daily basis is rightfullyfrowned upon. The real advantage of the Extenso cabin, as thethree-seater layout is known, is the ability to fold the outerpassenger seat down to increase the load length available. You can alsoflip the seat cushion up to make a handy storage area on the cab floor.
Citroencould have simply replaced its original Berlingo with a more modernproduct and had another sure fire winner on its hands. Instead, areorganisation at the lower end of the marque’s LCV range brought aboutthe sub-compact Nemo and this latest Berlingo, a vehicle that’s alltogether larger, more capable and more sophisticated than its forebear.Some of the agility of the old Berlingo was lost in the process but theNemo ably replicates that and in virtually every other area, today’sBerlingo is a significant advancement.
Today’sBerlingo has been given the wherewithal to tempt buyers down from theirlarger panel vans thanks to payloads of up to 850kg and a 3.7m3 maximumload volume. It’s also impressively comfortable and refined with theinterior offering a good variety of storage options with good standardsof fit and finish throughout. There are some capable alternativeoptions going head to head with Citroen’s compact van but it’s goodenough to give any one of them a run for its money.