Citroen Dispatch 2.0I 140 Review
|Facts At A Glance|
ENGINE:2.0i 16-valve 140bhp
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 2,717kg
CitroenDispatch 2.0I 140 Van- FUEL WARS
Isthere a place for petrol in our light commercial vehicles, Citroenthinks its Dispatch 2.0i can carve out a niche with a little help.
Petrolis almost a dirty word in the UK light commercial vehicle market. Manymanufacturers don’t even offer versions of their vans that run onunleaded and the petrol models that there are tend to be token effortsaimed at the contrary minority who, for inexplicable reasons of theirown, won’t touch diesel. Citroen is one manufacturer that’s perseveringwith the juice from the green-handles pumps but its Dispatch 2.0i 140model will need a few tricks up its sleeve to convince the doubters.
The reasons for diesel’s dominance in the van sector aren’t hard topinpoint. The things that diesel does best also happen to be the thingsthat most van operators look for. Basically, it boils down to good fueleconomy and lots of low down torque for hauling weighty loads. Bycontrast, the qualities that draw passenger car customers topetrol-like refinement and free-revving performance don’t carry muchweight in a working vehicle.
Sohow does Citroen intend to sell its 2.0-litre Dispatch? For starters,it’s cheap - which is the one relevant advantage that petrol enginedvans have over diesel ones. Secondly, it’s got a lot of power for theprice and most importantly, it’s available with a Dual Fuel conversionenabling it to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas.
Thepetrol powerplant fitted to the Dispatch is the 2.0-litre 16-valve unitthat crops up across the manufacturer’s passenger car range. With140bhp as its peak power output, it’s the most powerful engine thatCitroen offers with this vehicle but the all-important torque rating of180Nm looks a little feeble next to the 320Nm available from the2.0-litre 136bhp diesel. The entry-level 1.6 HDi diesel engine matchesthe petrol’s torque output but produces its muscle far lower in the revrange where it’s easier for drivers to exploit. Citroen’s dieselengines are amongst the more refined on the market but the petrol unitwill be smoother and more refined.
"Citroen’sconfidence that a small but significant market exists for its Dispatch2.0i panel van looks to be well-founded"
Onthe whole, the Dispatch is one of the better drivers’ vans of its sizeout there. The steering is a little on the light side for high speedtravel but well-weighted for urban driving. The firm suspension tacklescorners adeptly and body-roll is well controlled. The gear change wouldbe sharper in an ideal world but in general, the Dispatch serves up apolished experience for whoever’s behind the wheel, aided by a driver’sseat with height, reach, rake and lumbar adjustments.
Inprofile, the large front overhang of the Dispatch is highlighted andthis contributes to a turning circle that, at 12.2m, is nearly a metregreater than a Vauxhall Vivaro of equivalent capacity. The Dispatch,however, hits back on height or more accurately, lack of it. Citroen isat pains to point out that the standard roof H1 versions are just1,942mm tall and drop to 1,894mm when the optional pneumatic suspensionis specified. This means that they’ll be able to squeeze under heightrestrictors on urban car parks that would deny entry to most otherpanel vans. The sliding side door on each flank is a further boon insituations where space is tight and operators need to access theirload. These open wide enough to accommodate a Euro pallet and benefitfrom a low loading height of 562mm which can be cut by 71mm if yousplash out on that self-levelling suspension.
Thefrontal styling borrows quite substantially from the current Citroenpassenger car range and, indeed, from recent Peugeot models. TheDispatch, for the uninitiated, is the product of a partnership betweenPSA Peugeot Citroen and Fiat which has also spawned the identicalPeugeot Expert and Fiat Scudo models. The grille displays the Citroendouble chevrons as upward kinks knocked into parallel chrome bars andbelow the multi-part bumper juts forward imposingly. A deep swage lineruns from the lower edge of the large, elongated headlamps into thewindow line, continuing down the flanks. The design is undeniablydistinctive but where it looks modern from some angles it’s a littlegawky from others.
Thecosts associated with the Dispatch 2.0i will be crucial in determiningits fortunes in sales terms. It’s likely that the overwhelming majorityof buyers will specify the Dual Fuel version with its high qualityconversion carried out by Nicholson McLaren Engines. It features a77-litre tank for LPG mounted in place of the spare wheel with a nozzlefor filling with LPG located alongside the petrol filler cap.Performance is the same whether the vehicle is running on LPG or petrolbut it’s estimated that owners will save approximately 40% on fuelcosts when in LPG mode because of the lower price of that fuel. Afurther significant advantage comes in the exemption form congestioncharging that the Dispatch Dual Fuel is eligible for. Citroen claimthat a driver going into London every day could save nearly £1,700 peryear in congestion charge fees.
Thecab area of the Dispatch has been thoughtfully designed with firm,supportive seating and a respectable amount of storage space to keepoddments in check. A three-seat capacity is claimed but, as is so oftenthe case in small panel vans, the legroom for the middle berth isseverely restricted by the dash-mounted gear lever. In the Dispatch,the shifter occupies the space where the middle passenger’s knee shouldbe so unless the third member of your work crew happens to be HeatherMills-McCartney or Long John Silver, it may be better to make otherarrangements.
Citroenisn’t expecting a massive rush for petrol powered Dispatch models. It’sgoing to be a niche market product but one that the manufacturer isconfident will hold strong appeal for a select group of operators. Theroot of this confidence lies in the Dual Fuel conversion that is beingoffered on the vehicle. As part of the successful Ready To Runprogramme which offers specialised versions of Citroen vans with highquality conversions done by third party experts, the Dispatch Dual Fuelis heavily discounted and actually comes in at £2,600 below thestandard Dispatch 1000 L1H1 2.0i 140 that it’s based upon. Suddenly,operators who had written off the prospect of a petrol van might beshowing a spark of interest.
hepetrol Dispatch is only available in the smallest L1H1 Dispatchbodystyle which gives it a 988kg payload capacity. The vehicle comeswith a five speed manual gearbox as standard and gets some other choiceextras such as air-conditioning and heated door mirrors. Standard kiton every Dispatch variant runs to twin sliding side doors, remotecentral locking and electric front windows..
TheUK’s roads won’t be overrun with petrol-powered commercial vehicles inthe foreseeable future but Citroen’s confidence that a small butsignificant market exists for its Dispatch 2.0i panel van looks to bewell-founded. The proposition hinges on the manufacturer’s LPGconversion which is heavily discounted and has the potential to shave abig chunk off running costs. More still can be saved by the driver whoregularly ventures into the Capital’s congestion charging zone, so thesums add up but that doesn’t change the fact that petrol is inherentlyless adept than diesel in commercial vehicle applications