Citroen Dispatch L2H2 120 Van Review
|Facts At A Glance|
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 2,963kg
CitroenDispatch L2H2 120- PATCHY OR PERFECT?
Vandrivers spend more time than most in the company of their vehicle butfirst impressions still count. We make the acquaintance of Citroen’spanel van.
Whenyou’re going to be in each other’s company for what could amount toseveral years or well over a hundred thousand miles, it really doeshelp if you get on. This holds true whether we’re talking about a workcolleague or a working vehicle. Just as nobody wants to get lumberedwith a co-worker whose questionable personal hygiene is only masked byhis foul-smelling packed lunches, a van that’s noisy, uncomfortable orplain unsuitable will soon get your goat. At the outset of our longterm stint at the wheel of Citroen’s Dispatch, we had our eyes peeledfor any niggling annoyances.
Credit where credit’s due, the Dispatch makes a valiant attempt atlooking interesting with its massive headlights and chunky bumperdesign. Whether you could call the vehicle good-looking is a differentmatter but it’s definitely got character. Those expensive-lookingheadlights are positioned high up on the steeply raked nose so they’rewell back from the bumper and protected from parking knocks. Thickrubbing strips do a similar job for the vehicle’s flanks and the rearis also well protected by a sturdy-looking bumper that’s wide enough toserve as a handy step for access to the rear. The Dispatch is builtwith a view to keeping the looks that it has intact.
Wehad extensive experience of this model’s predecessor and theimprovements over that van are instantly apparent virtually everywhereyou look. This Dispatch is a much bigger vehicle, however, and that’sespecially evident in the long wheelbase, high roof bodystyle that ourtest vehicle came in. The biggest strength of the old Dispatch was itsmanoeuvrability so surely, we thought, that must be one area wheresomething has been lost in translation. In low speed turning andparking situations, the large front overhang of the Dispatch can be ahindrance. It’s hard to judge exactly where the front of the van iswhen you’re cosying up to an obstacle. Happily, the tendency is tounderestimate the amount of room you’ve got left so our bumper remainsblemish free at the time of writing. The mirrors are wide enough togive the driver a good appreciation of what’s behind him but the fullheight unglazed bulkhead in our Dispatch means the optional rearparking sensors are a must.
"Alikable van that does things that bit differently from the majority ofits rivals"
ThisDispatch is trickier to manoeuvre than the vehicle that went before itbut that’s to be expected when you’re gaining all that extra capacity.It’s also a little less malleable at low speeds than some rivalproducts that employ a higher driving position with a better view outbut there are definite advantages to the set up that Citroen chose. Outon the open road, these become clear.
ITheextra bulk the Dispatch gained over the model it replaced is quicklyforgotten when you take to the highways and byways. The drivingposition is much more MPV than panel van in that you sit lower, in amore laid-back position with your legs stretched out further in frontof you more. It’s still more upright than a conventional passenger carbut on longer journeys, the comfort factor will be a welcome boost.It’s easy to prop an elbow on the well-positioned arm rest and spend acouple of hours eating-up some miles. The seating position in theDispatch is also perfect for drivers on multi-drop rounds orcontinually hopping about town. Entries and exits are easier than inboth a car-derived van, where you need to hoist yourself out, and apanel van where it’s a case of clambering down and up again when it’stime to get back in. This might seem a small consideration but thestrain it takes off your back over the course of a year’s work could beworth a couple of shots off the golf handicap.
Onthe whole, the Dispatch is one of the better drivers’ vans out there.The steering is a little on the light side for high speed travel butwell-weighted for urban driving. The firm suspension tackles cornersadeptly and even with the high-roof bodystyle we tested, body-roll iswell controlled. The gear change would be sharper in an ideal world butin general the Dispatch serves up a polished experience to whoever’sbehind the wheel aided by a driver’s seat with height, reach, rake andlumbar adjustments.
Thefull-height metal bulkhead shows the Dispatch in a better light as iteliminates much of the road and engine noise that echoes around theloadbay in models without one fitted. In general, the 120bhp 2.0-litreHDi engine is smooth once it gets into its stride and delivers a stronghit of performance. There is some lag if you get caught in the wronggear, leaving the van floundering for a second or so while the revsbuild but once the torque starts to kick in, there’s acceleration ontap. The official combined fuel consumption for our Dispatch is 39.2mpgand we’ve been getting mighty close to that.
Thetest vehicle we’ve been out and about in came with a healthy quota ofoptional extras but they don’t gloss over the basic quality of theDispatch cabin. High standards of fit and finish are now being set inthe small panel van segment but the Citroen can hold its own. Theseating is supportive while the dash is neatly laid out and constructedfrom decent quality plastics. The huge dash-top area created by thesharply-angled windscreen is an inviting place to leave pens andpaperwork but it’ll soon slide off when you get moving. Instead, usethe handy pot carved into the fascia above the glovebox or the widedoor pockets. Small cubby holes also abound to swallow-up those littleodds and ends.
So,our first impressions of the Citroen Dispatch. It’s essentially, alikable van that does things that bit differently from the majority ofits rivals. Good to drive and comfortable over long journeys, it comeswell-equipped and with a level of build quality that stands comparisonwith the German alternatives. Possible downsides could be thosedistinctive looks, the loose gearchange and the forward visibility forparking but there’s nothing that’s going to prevent the majority of vandrivers from forming a fruitful working relationship with this model.Citroen’s generous warranty and free SmartNav satellite navigationsystem should also help make it a big hit with the people who hold thepurse strings at businesses up and down the country.