Added: 10 October 2018
Ever since its first appearance in 1996, the Citroën Berlingo has been an incredibly popular car for those who want the practicality of a van and carry four passengers – all within the footprint of a hatchback. It was a genius concept and one that inspired many other manufacturers in the process including Renault with its Kangoo, Ford with its Transit connect and Fiat with the Doblo.
WHAT IS IT?
The Berlingo is effectively a van that has seating for five people. But, it is so much more than that – much more dexterous. For a start, there’s the practicality – spades of it. Being based on a van has many advantages, the main being the sheer volume of space inside.
The cabin itself has enough room to easily seat five adults comfortably and retain all of their belongings thanks to an array of cubbyholes spread throughout. There is also a capacious boot that can easily store a family's suitcases, a months’ worth of shopping or the family dog – as displayed by Ollie the cockapoo.
In the front, we find storage in front of the passenger, which is effetely a glovebox without a lid. There’s also a shelf there too along with large door bins.
The centre console houses a storage area for your phone which, incidentally, can also wirelessly charge it as you drive. Below that are two huge cup holders and another storage tray thanks to the gearbox being located on the dashboard, leaving a large void between the two front seats – although there is the option of filling this with a higher centre console.
The biggest surprise comes when you look above the driver’s seat and find a huge shelf that stretches right across the front of the car. It’s like having an overhead storage locker you might find on a plane, allowing you to store any range of items.
The variant we are driving is the standard Flair version, but if you opt for the XTR pack you get even more storage plus some very nice armrests on the two front seats. There’s a panoramic roof that runs the length of the car, housing a shelf in the middle. There’s also an overhead storage locker located in the roof section of the boot and hidden storage boxes accessed by lids in both rear passenger foot wells.
And that’s the point of this car. It’s not flashy, it’s not an executive saloon – it’s a highly practical family orientated car that maximises every square-inch of space within its cabin.
WHAT SPEC DOES IT HAVE?
If you told someone you drive a ‘MPV’ they would probably assume that it was fairly basic inside with lots of nasty scratchy plastics. The Berlingo is the exception – a far cry away in fact.
It is well appointed with all the technology you could need, including Sat Nav, Mirror Screen – allowing you to access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; Cruise Control, Wireless Phone Charging, Bluetooth and DAB Radio.
On the outside, you find chunky, rugged styling cues that link the Berlingo with the rest of the Citroën range. The nose houses daytime running lights in the upper section and headlights below them, mirroring the look of the C3 and C3 Aircross. On the sides, there are also Airbumps – first seen on the first generation C4 Cactus and carried across to the lower sections of the doors on the Berlingo. And speaking of doors, the rear ones slide open, making tight multi storey car parks a doddle when trying to get the kids out of their car seats.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The first impression you get when you step behind the wheel of the Berlingo is that it’s uncannily quiet. This is thanks to the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol unit that lies under the bonnet of our car. Start it up and the only tell-tale sign it’s actually running is the rev counter idling just under 1,000 revs.
Once you start driving, the Berlingo unravels itself as pretty brilliant. It feels very comfortable, the seating adjustment is spot on and there’s plenty of visibility at all times, even with all of the rear seats occupied – nobody’s head impedes your vision. The six-speed manual gearbox is very smooth and easy to use. An eight-speed automatic is also available.
You plunge away at the gear-lever constantly revving the buzzy little three-cylinder engine, which is actually very frugal. It returns an impressive average of 51.4mpg and emits 121g/km of Co2. That means it’s £165 for the first year to tax and £140 every year thereafter.
What’s really superb is that at no point does the Berlingo feel like an MPV to drive. It doesn’t lean in bends and is actually fairly nippy if you keep your foot planted on longer stretches of road.
All of this boils down to the fact that underneath it shares all of its mechanicals with other Citroën passenger cars, such as the C4 SpaceTourer and upcoming Citroën C5 Aircross.
WHY SHOULD YOU BUY THIS ONE & HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The Berlingo is the best of both worlds – practical MPV qualities meet hatchback. There’s oodles of space – even for the tallest of people, it’s very comfortable and above all, it’s enjoyable to be behind the wheel thanks to bundles of charm and character.
The boot has a huge amount of space horizontally and vertically, meaning that dog owners can expect to fit a couple of large pooches in there at any one time. Fold the rear seats down and the Berlingo is transformed into its van sibling on which it is based – ideal for those trips to the tip or a shop at your local flat pack furniture store.
Overall, the Berlingo offers all the practicalities you’d expect from a family hatch – and much more besides. Not only that but its quirky looks, super easy steering, incredibly functional cabin and oodles of space for occupants make it really stand out from other competitors.
What’s more, it is excellent value when you consider the amount of kit on offer and how many extras can be added. Even a top spec Flair model with all of the option boxes ticked will cost just over £25k – a huge saving compared to the equivalently specced Volkswagen Touran, Renault Scenic or Ford S-Max.
PRICE: FROM £17,850
ENGINE: 1.2-LITRE THREE-CYLINDER PETROL
TORQUE: 205 NM
MAX SPEED: 109 MPH
0-60MPH: 9.5 SECONDS
AVERAGE MPG: 51.4
EMISSIONS (G/KM): 121
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