Citroen Berlingo XTR+ Review
Facts At A Glance
LOAD VOLUME: 2.4– 3.35m3
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 2,130kg
CitroenBerlingo XTR+- BERLINGO GOES ANYWHERE
Whygo all out for a 4x4 van when you can get extra off-road at a fractionof the price? That’s the thinking behind the Berlingo XTR+.
A complex and expensive four-wheel-drive transmission system isn’t the be all or the end all of off-road driving. Anyone who regularly ventures into the great unknown that lies beyond our road network’s verges will tell you that it’s possible to go a long way on ground clearance and mechanical grip.Citroen is well aware of this and has long produced XTR+ versions ofits vans as viable alternatives to full four-wheel-drive commercial vehicles. The latest Berlingo XTR+ offers an element of off-roadcapability at a manageable price.
Let’s face it. If you’re going to be driving your commercial vehicle off-road day in, day out in testing conditions, you want to be as sure as possible that you aren’t going to get stuck or sustain any damage. A fully kitted out pick-up truck or a real hardcore 4x4 van are the onlyoptions. If, however, you occasionally have to cross a muddy building site or trundle up a dirt road or two, the Berlingo XTR+ could be ideal. It’s less expensive than the various vans based on compact 4x4s,it retains the big carrying capacity of a standard Berlingo van and itshould have all the off-road capability you need. That’s the plananyway.
Only the front wheels are driven on the Berlingo XTR+, just like on any standard Berlingo van, but between them is a limited slip differential.This works to reapportion the engine’s torque to the wheel with the most grip to help prevent the van from floundering in slippery conditions. There’s no input required from the drive, except perhaps a boot-full of throttle when the situation demands it. The engine is theBerlingo’s 1.6-litre HDi in 90bhp guise and its torque output of 215Nmat 1.750rpm should make it pleasantly tractable from low speeds. The Berlingo XTR+ runs on Michelin Synchrone 4x4 tyres which are designedfor a mix of on and off-road usage.
"Therearen’t many direct alternatives out there to an XTR+ Berlingo"
The limited slip differential and tyres help maximise the available gripbut the XTR+ has a few other tricks up its sleeve to keep things movingin the mud while shrugging off any prangs from rogue masonry and the like. Heavy duty suspension components have been installed, increasingthe ride height of the vehicle by 30mm to help stop it dragging its belly over the terrain. Then, should the underside come into contactwith anything untoward, there’s extensive protection to avoid damage occurring. A heavy duty metal sump guard is installed, along with two metal skid plates running the length of the vehicle to protect thebrake and fuel lines.
TheL1 Berlingo van on which the XTR+ is based is 4,380mm in length. That’s 243mm longer than the previous generation Berlingo with 350mm extra in the wheel base department. The space in the rear is accessed throughside hinged rear doors which open to nearly 180 degrees and reveal acompartment that’s 1,800mm long and never less than 1,229mm wide.Sliding side doors are available as options, as is a hinged roof flap through which long items can be poked. The loading lip at the rear isnice and low and the load bay gets excellent protection from its contents courtesy of panelling that extends halfway up the sides of the vehicle. The standard bulk head is a ladder frame behind the driver’s seat only and an unusual touch is the load compartment light that canbe detached and used as a torch.
Internally,the Citroen Berlingo is an impressive piece of work by van standards with good quality materials and neat design. It’s worth remembering that the compact 4x4 vans on the market are based on passenger cars and will be noticeably better appointed in the cabin than theirpredecessors - though the fittings maybe also less durable. The storage space is abundant and clever solutions abound, ready to swallow up all the paraphernalia of your working day. There are both two and three-seater cab options and in the two-seater Berlingo, the single passenger seat folds down to reveal a desk and cup holders.
The space in the Berlingo’s cabin is immediately evident. It’s wide with plenty of room for driver and passenger. Problems start to arise when you 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 moot point. The few remaining chimney sweeps might be interested but in this day and age, taking your child to work on a daily basis is rightfully frowned upon. The real advantage of the Extenso cabin, as the three-seater layout is known, is the ability to fold the outer passenger seat down to increase the load length available. You can also flip the seat cushion up to make a handy storage area on the cab floor.
Standard equipment on the Berlingo includes ABS brakes, a trip computer, a CDstereo, central locking, electric front windows and internally adjustable door mirrors. The XTR+ is based on the plusher LX trim, however, and that adds remote central locking, heated electric wingmirrors and an external temperature sensor. There’s also the considerable pulling power of a standard Traffic master Smartnav satellite navigation and vehicle tracking system.
There aren’t many direct alternatives out there to an XTR+ Berlingo. In termsof its off-road ability, it’s halfway between conventional compact vansand the van models based on compact 4x4 passenger cars. The latter group are more stylish and will be better suited to off-road travel butthe price will reflect that and the carrying capacity will be substantially less. The XTR+ is also available in platform cab and crewvan bodystyles with a number of further options available through Citroen’s Ready to Run programme.
Van operators who find themselves infrequently faced with the need for a spot of off-road driving have a conundrum on their hands. Do they take the risk of getting stuck with a conventional compact van or shell out the extra cash for a less practical 4x4 model that can perform in therough? Citroen’s Berlingo XTR+ offers a compromise. With its front wheel drive layout given extra capability through a limited slip differential, mixed terrain tyres and upgraded suspension, it should bethe perfect fit for some van.