Citroen Relay Review
|Facts At A Glance|
GROSS VEHICLEWEIGHTS: 3.0t, 3.3t
CitroenRelay 2.2 HDi 100- THE 100 CLUB
Witha 160bhp unit in top spot and a 120bhp mid-Ranger, it would be easy tooverlook the 100bhp entry-level engine in Citroen’s Relay Range. Itwould also be a mistake.
Cana driver really get away with just 100bhp to propel his large panelvan? You could certainly imagine the stereotypical tea swilling, Sunworshipping white van man feeling a little emasculated with a merecentury of horses to get him and his gutbuster breakfast physique fromA to B. After all, there are superminis out there with way more powerand a lot less bulk to shift.
The entry level Citroen Relay models set out to prove that 100bhp isplenty but will buyers and operators be convinced?
First,let’s remind ourselves that historically, 100bhp has not been aninconsequential power output for a commercial vehicle and even in thelarge panel van sector, it’s a far from piffling amount of grunt. Theold Relay produced just 86bhp in entry-level form and its great rivalthe Vauxhall Movano campaigns with an 82bhp entry-level option. It’sonly in the context of the ever more powerful vans and passenger carswhich have been materialising over recent years that 100bhp starts toappear even slightly weedy. The question is whether the average lightduty van operator actually needs an engine like the Relay’s 160bhp3.0-litre lump or the 184bhp 6-cylinder unit that can be specified inthe Mercedes Sprinter. We took to the road in the entry-level 2.2-litre100bhp Citroen Relay to find out.
TheRelay’s 100bhp powerplant bears little comparison to the kind of 100bhpdiesel units found in compact passenger cars and just to prove it,let’s compare the two. With its sizable 2.2-litre capacity, the Relay’slump is in a far more relaxed state of tune than a typical superminiengine. The 1.6-litre HDi diesel that Citroen will sell you in their C3produces an impressive 110bhp but, crucially, it’ll give you 181lb/ftof torque at 1,750rpm while the Relay’s engine makes its 184lb/ftmaximum torque available all the way from 1,500rpm to 2,800rpm. Thepanel van engine is designed to be tractable across a wider section ofthe rev Range, giving it the gumption to cope with heavy loads, steepinclines and devilish combinations of the two without drama or frenziedcog crunching on the driver’s part.
"The100bhp HDi powerplant complements the smaller Citroen Relays in somestyle…"
Outand about in the 3.0-tonne short wheelbase, standard roof Relay (the 30L1H1, for those familiar with the van’s less than obvious modeldesignation structure), the 100bhp 2.2-litre engine makes a solid firstimpression. The van was without any cargo to hamper its progress but itpulled strongly and smoothly from low in the rev Range just as thepancake flat torque curve suggested it would. The five-speed gearboxfitted to these models (you get six-speeds with the more powerfulRelays) aids smooth progress, slipping neatly enough between thewell-spaced ratios and motorway speeds in fifth don’t have the engineworking overly hard. Engine noise is well suppressed; unfortunatelyit’s the creaking and road roar emanating from the loadbay that do alot of the suppression. Fit the optional bulkhead that separates cabinand cargo area and you’ll have a more refined van.
Whetherthe 100bhp engine is powerful enough will be down very much to the kindof usage that individual operators have in mind. The model we tested iscapable of accommodating a 1,155kg payload but if your Relay is to beregularly burdened with that kind of weight, the 120bhp or 160bhpengines will be better equipped to make composed progress. Equally, iffrequent long distance motorway trips are on the agenda, the biggerengines will be more relaxed companions and the variable power steeringthat accompanies them makes the Relay less of a handful at thesevelocities. The standard steering set-up on the model we tested wasextremely light, combining with the Relay’s excellent turning circle tomake parking and manoeuvring in busy areas a doddle. At higher speeds,it didn’t really inspire confidence when slight changes in directionwere called for.
TheCitroen Relay is available in over 70 different bodystyles with grossvehicle weights extending up to 4.0 tonnes but the largest panel vanyou’ll find with the 2.2-litre 100bhp engine fitted to it is the3.3-tonne medium wheelbase, high roof. Whichever Relay body operatorschoose, they’ll be getting one of the most practical and thoughtfullydesigned loadspaces in the class. The loading height of 560mm will helpkeep the chiropractors from your door while the whole area out back isuniformly shaped with limited wheel-arch intrusion.
Qualityin the cabin might not be up with that of some rivals, notably theMercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter, but the overall design ismore user-friendly with a multitude of storage options available tolose that vital piece of paperwork or Ginsters Buffet Bar in. All Relaymodels feature Trafficmaster satellite navigation and vehicle trackingas standard and this will be a major selling point with its trafficupdate and speed camera warning facilities also included. Be warned,however, that these add-ons are only offered with a one monthsubscription where you get three years use of the sat nav and trackingtechnology thrown in.
Thoughtfully,the manufacturer has also laid-on a comprehensive options list so thatit’s quite possible for user choosers or generous bosses to really goto town. All models feature an overspeed warning to help drivers staywithin the limit but there’s also an optional speed limiter that makesbreaking it impossible. Automatic headlamps and wipers are alsostandard but there’s a reversing camera, climate control, Bluetoothconnectivity and all sorts of other technological titbits to consideras options - if you have the spare cash.
Givenfree reign and the company chequebook, most van drivers would opt foras much power as the manufacturer in question sees fit to offer in apanel van but is it really necessary? On the evidence of this test,when operating mainly in busy urban areas with a modest payload in towas many operators do, it’s not necessary in the Relay. The 100bhp HDipowerplant complements the smaller Citroen Relays in some style,keeping costs down with minimal drawbacks in terms of on roadperformance. Parting with cash unnecessarily is something that all goodcompanies are loath to do and Citroen’s entry-level panel vans will bemore than adequate for many.