Citroen Nemo Review
|Facts At A Glance|
BHP:70bhp - 75bhp
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHT: 1,680kg – 1,700kg
CitroenNemo- BLINDING NEMO?
Citroendoes a nice line in compact vans these days and the Nemo could be thebest of the lot.
Sooner or later, the trends thatsweep the passenger car market usually filter through to arena of thecommercial vehicle. That process can take a while but as we’ve seenwith common-rail diesel engines and various items of safety equipment,vans eventually come to benefit from most of the relevant innovationsthat arise in cars. Citroen’s Nemo is representative of a trend that’sbeen extremely prevalent in the car sector for a number of years now;namely that of diversification. It’s a van that can lay claim to beingfirst aboard the sub-compact van bandwagon.
Actually, it’s a little bit more complicated than all that. A reshuffleof the Citroen commercial vehicle range has made space for the Nemorather than any ground-breaking design innovation on the manufacturer’spart. The latest Citroen Berlingo compact van has grown in capacity,nuzzling-up beneath the Despatch panel van and that shift left a spacebelow, which the Nemo neatly fills. The model’s bijou dimensions meansit sits above the tiny C2 car-derived van, in close proximity to theBerlingo First model which is actually the old Berlingo soldiering onas an uncomplicated budget option.
Thatjust about sums it up, but before you declare yourself in possession ofall the facts concerning the Nemo’s market positioning, remember thatit’s just one part of a three-pronged attack of the small van sector.Citroen’s sister brand Peugeot and their long-standing LCV partner Fiatalso have versions of the van called the Bipper and the Fiorinorespectively.
"Citroenis banking on more and more operators coming to the conclusion thatsmall is beautiful"
TheNemo’s size and weight allows it to get away with smaller 1.4-litreengines as opposed to the units of 1.6-litres and larger that Citroenfits to its Berlingo. The petrol option is a 1.4-litre 75bhp affair butits 118Nm of torque at 2,600rpm highlights its shortcomings compared tothe 1.4-litre diesel. The Nemo’s oil-burner comes with less power -only 70bhp is available - but 160Nm from 1,750rpm means it has thelow-end muscle that drivers like for getting their payload smartly offthe line. Neither Nemo is earth-shatteringly quick but the chance toapproach the speed limit has become a rare luxury in the areas whereit’s designed to work, so that shouldn’t unduly matter.
TheNemo has independent front suspension braced with an anti-roll bar,while at the rear is the old commercial vehicle standard transversebeam. The set-up works well helping to give the Nemo the lively andenergetic feel on the road that the latest supersized Berlingo haspartially lost. The downside is that the Nemo is less comfortable aproposition on the open road, but around town its short overhangs andteeny dimensions make it highly manoeuvrable. The turning circle issuper-tight at under 10 metres kerb to kerb. The Nemo mounts itsgearlever on the dash as is the fashion these days and the abruptshort-throw action is an improvement over the sloppy set-ups that letsome of the marque’s other models down.
TheNemo’s styling should win it many admirers, the van displaying aswollen look that might hint at a cargo of highly compressed air. Thebumpers, the wheelarches and even the windscreen dome outwards andalong with the wide track, this creates a squat, planted stance. Theinherent chunkiness also suggests the Nemo is a tough customer andthere’s not much to dissuade you from that opinion on the inside.Fiat’s influence on the project is evident in the cab. The air-vents,the stereo and other components have been seen before in Fiat productsbut all feel solid and look the part. The design is simple and thematerials robust but storage could be more generous. Space is adequatefor driver and passenger but larger occupants might find it a littleconfined during a long day at the wheel.
TheNemo measures just 3,860mm in length but uses its interior space tofull effect in offering a 2.5m3 load volume and a 610kg maximumpayload. The space itself is usefully square and a ladder framebulkhead protects the rear of the driver’s seat. Choose the optionalExtenso folding passenger seat and that load volume can be increased to2.8m3 with the load length upped from 1,520mm to 2.5mm, ideal forpipes, planks of wood or other long items.
Theloadbay can be got at through the Nemo’s asymmetrically-hinged reardoors that open to 180 degrees. The resulting aperture is surprisinglywide and tall with a low loading height to help when hauling heavyitems inside. There’s a lip between the bumper and the load floor whichcan make sliding cargo in slightly problematic and the sliding sidedoors are fairly narrow but lashing eyes and the uniform shape of thecompartment count in the plus column. Given its size, the Nemo is anextremely practical proposition.
TheNemo should be adept at saving its owners money. 41mpg from the petrolengine is nothing to get too excited about but the more satisfactorydiesel can return nearly 63mpg which is great going by any standards.It produces just 119g/km in the process too and with lengthy2-year/20,000-mile service intervals, that should be money in the bankfor operators.
TheCitroen Nemo is available in X or LX trim, with the entry-level X modelfeaturing an MP3-compatible CD stereo, a trip computer, ABS brakes, adriver’s airbag and pre-tensioner seatbelts. The LX adds the slidingside door on the nearside, electric front windows, remote centrallocking, the folding passenger seat and heated electric mirrors.Air-conditioning is an option, as are a Bluetooth hands-free kit andrear parking sensors. All models come with a five-speed manual gearboxbut Citroen’s Sensodrive clutchless gearbox is an option with thediesel engine.
Tosucceed from its unorthodox position betwixt the car-derived C2 van andthe Berlingo compact van, the Nemo is going to have to persuade asufficient number of buyers that it is the optimum size for them. Lookat the dimensions and it’s closer to the extremely popular previousgeneration Berlingo than the latest Berlingo is. The bottom ofCitroen’s LCV line-up looks decidedly crowded. Citroen has proveditself to have a steady hand on the LCV marketing tiller, however,growing the business consistently in recent years. It would be a braveperson who bets against the firm’s judgement in this instance.
It’sa gamble that could easily pay off. The smaller end of the Citroen vanrange offers more choice than ever in the Nemo’s presence. Itspleasantly chunky styling, its nimble driving experience and itssurprisingly generous capacities will all help to persuade anydoubters. There’s now a small Citroen van to suit the full range ofrequirements and the Nemo could well be the pick of the bunch.
TheCitroen Nemo doesn’t fit in with the conventional structure of thelight commercial vehicle market but times change and with trafficlevels increasing along with fuel costs and the tax burden, Citroen isbanking on more and more operators coming to the conclusion that smallis beautiful.