Citroen Dispatch Review
|Facts At A Glance|
ENGINES:1.6HDi 90/2.0HDi 120/2.0HDi 136
DIMENSIONS:length/width/height [L1H1] 4805/2194/1942mm
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHTS: 2,717-2,963kg
CitroenDispatch Van Range- ONE FOR THE LOAD
Citroen’slatest Dispatch squares up to some heavy hitters in the small panel vansector but they underestimate it at their peril.
For a long time, Citroen’sDispatch van resisted classification in the UK’s light commercialvehicle marketplace. It was bigger than the crop of compact vans butnot so big as to impinge on the territory of the panel vans in theclass above. As a relatively unique compromise between manoeuvrabilityand carrying capacity, it enjoyed considerable success. Today’s modelis easier to pin down, going head to head with vehicles at the morepetite end of the panel van spectrum. It’s a tougher gig but there’sconfidence at Citroen that the Dispatch is up to the challenge.
The3m3 load volume of the original Dispatch left a glaring hole in theCitroen light commercial vehicle range. The littlest version of theRelay panel van could carry 8m3 and this left a 5m3 window in whichrivals like Vauxhall’s Vivaro and Volkswagen’s Transporter could makehay. Today’s Dispatch plugs that gap, nestling up beneath the Relaymodel range with a variety of load volumes ranging from 5m3 to 7m3.Payload options of 1,000kg and 1,200kg ensure that the Dispatch cancope with more weight than before as well, while the range has taken ona far greater level of diversity thanks to two load lengths (L1 andL2), two roof heights (H1 and H2) and three engine options. On top ofthat little lot, buyers also get the choice of panel van, window van,platform cab and Combi bodystyles.
Themodern Citroen Dispatch range has the mix and match potential thatoperators expect in the panel van sector but a key factor behind thesuccess of the original Dispatch was the way operators found it compactand wieldy in the manner of smaller, more car-like vans from the classbelow. Citroen was obviously acutely aware of this and rather thancloning the look and feel of the leading small panel van rivals, thisDispatch manages to remain a little bit different.
"Citroenknows better than anyone how to sell vans in the UK marketplace"
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.
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.
Anyonejumping from another small panel van into the Dispatch will notice howmuch lower the driver sits in the Citroen. This makes access farsimpler and ideal for delivery drivers who are constantly climbing inand out of their vans but something is lost in terms of visibility. Italso can be difficult to see over that extensive bonnet when parking,especially as the driver sits a long way back from the base of thewindscreen. In general driving, the Dispatch does feel compact and it’seasy to thread through traffic, largely thanks to a footprint that’sbarely larger than a standard family saloon. The brakes respond withassurance and body roll when cornering is helped by that low centre ofgravity. The gearchange, though not class-leading in its accuracy, is asizable improvement over the old Dispatch and the suspension gives awell-judged blend of comfort and stability.
Thecab area has been thoughtfully designed with firm, supportive seatingand a respectable amount of storage space to keep oddments in check. Athree-seat capacity is claimed but, as is so often the case in smallpanel vans, the legroom for the middle berth is severely restricted bythe dash-mounted gear lever. In the Dispatch, the shifter occupies thespace where the middle passenger’s knee should be so unless the thirdmember of your work crew happens to be Heather Mills-McCartney or LongJohn Silver, it may be better to make other arrangements.
Thethree engine options are all HDi common-rail diesels and they take somebeating on grounds of fuel economy. The 90bhp 1.6-litre unit returnsover 39mpg on the combined cycle and has more than enough puff to get alightly laden Dispatch moving briskly along. The 2.0-litre engines willbe a better bet in the larger models and of the two, I’d probablysettle for the 120bhp option. Here you get identical fuel economy tothat of the 1.6HDi but with a full 300Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. Therange-topping 136bhp engine delivers 38mpg and 320Nm of torque. It isquicker but this may not justify the price premium in the eyes of manybuyers.
Equipmentlevels look generous with Citroen offering the headline-grabbingSmartnav satellite navigation system as standard along with ABS, EBA, adriver’s airbag, a CD Stereo with wheel-mounted controls and electricwindows. The LX derivatives get the self-levelling suspension alongwith other desirables. With these and other features taken intoaccount, the Dispatch looks a conspicuously good value van – but whatelse did you expect from Citroen?
Theoriginal Dispatch, with its blend of compact van and small panel vanqualities, was quite unlike anything else on the market but this modelis more conformist. The extensive range means it will appeal to moreoperators but it has a tougher task of convincing them of its meritsbecause some accomplished small panel van rivals are now directlycomparable to the Citroen. The Dispatch still offers a user-friendly,MPV-style driving experience but it lacks a little in terms of quality,both actual and perceived, when pitched against the very best. This maynot matter. Citroen knows better than anyone how to sell vans in the UKmarketplace and tight pricing along with innovations like the standardSmartnav navigation system and the inevitable cashback deals shouldgive this impressive product the edge it needs in a closely-foughtsector.