Sometimes in life there is no getting around a need for a man with a van. Moving house? You need a van. Avoiding the delivery charge on that new fridge you just bought? You need a van. Is your full-time occupation being a decorator? YOU NEED A VAN! The Citroen Berlingo, ever since its inception, has made no apologies for being a van with windows and it is this refreshingly honest character of the car that has made it a success. You see, for those who have a use for a car capable of carrying both the children and awkwardly shaped items, the Citroen Berlingo makes perfect sense. This week I have been testing the latest Citroen Berlingo Multispace.
Visually it isn’t going to win any beauty pageants with its rather slab-sided appearance and boxy rear end. That said, this top specification XTR model does sport some contrasting trim and sits a bit higher for a more rugged appearance. From the outset the Berlingo choses function over style, but to be perfectly honest, this cars core customers are going to have the very same mindset. The Citroen is a tall machine but its proportions make much more sense once you get inside.
The interior of the Citroen Berlingo Multispace is enormous. Its vast quantity of space and versatility is immediately apparent from the moment you enter. The high roof dons overhead storage compartments galore and even includes an aircraft style locker at the rear. Robust individual seats, the rear ones are completely removable, await their torture by growing children. Further storage compartments in the dashboard and doors ensure that you will forever have somewhere to put an ice scraper or a bag of boiled sweets for long journeys. Though initially mocked for “looking like a taxi” on a visit to Portsmouth to see some friends, they were later impressed by the sheer amount of alcohol, for the pending house party, that could be stored in various compartments. I bet Citroen never though that this car could be marketed as a mobile brewery! (Obviously drinking and driving did not occur, nor should it.) The Citroen Berlingo Multispace also has the option of being equipped with 7 seats with the extra row making itself at home in the Grand Canyon of a boot that this car possess. Another useful design feature is the cars van inspired sliding rear doors. They reveal a big opening that allows for easy access and the fact that they slide, as opposed to swing like a normal door, means that worrying about your child slamming the door into the Mercedes you are parked next to is a thing of the past. Rear passengers can also enjoy a completely flat floor and the use of the XTR’s built-in sun blinds. The dashboard is very utilitarian with a rectangular blocky aesthetic that isn’t too appealing to the eye, but again is functional in its layout. Our test car also had satellite navigation and Bluetooth but lacked a DAB radio. Big windows and additional transparent roof panels flood the cabin with plenty of natural light.
Powered by a 1.6 litre diesel engine the Berlingo XTR HDi pulls well with enough power to get you up to speed, however, this car does have the aerodynamic properties of a shed and so expect a notable amount of wind noise at motorway velocity. The Berlingo is very good at soaking up the humps and bumps of British roads, even taking on large speed bumps without much of a fuss. The ride is very good and makes for a comfortable journey over most surfaces. This car has a 5 mode traction system that includes snow and ice, sand, mud, normal and off (that is if we are counting off as a setting.) Body roll is much less than expected for such a tall car and as a result it can deal with mildly exuberant driving. What I didn’t like about the way the Berlingo is set-up was its steering. Whilst its lack of weight makes urban driving effortless and parking no strain at all, when away from the town it lacks feel and comes across as being numb. Yeah sure, it is a people mover and so I’m not expecting the steering characteristics of an MX-5, but I just didn’t like the almost complete lack of connection between car and driver. Armed with large windows visibility is always good and in tandem with its parking sensors, owners should have no trouble parking the car. It is geared well and the torque from the diesel engine is most welcome at roundabouts.
The Citroen Berlingo Multispace does what it is designed to do very well. It provides huge amounts of space for both people and large objects whist returning a reasonable 47MPG in the real world. Our top specification test car came to a rather pricey £20,260 but you will be glad to know that you can have a Berlingo from £16,960. This segment is rapidly expanding and with rivals such as Ford entering the market, Citroen have to clutch hold of their hard earned “class leader” status a bit tighter. For those who require such a car, you can not go too far wrong with the Berlingo.