The single petrol engine will keep up with family hatchbacks, but it's worth going for a stronger engine if you plan on carrying full loads - and when we say stronger, we inevitably mean diesel. The choice extends to three 1.6-litre engines, with 74-, 89- or 113bhp, the last of which is only available in the rugged-looking XTR model. For our money, the best bet is the mid-range one.
It might look like a builder's van, but the Berlingo is perfectly civilised. Its sheer size means it's not particularly agile, but it's easy to drive. Although the tall body does lean a little in corners, it won't unsettle passengers and the ride is supple enough to smooth your way over all but the worst road surfaces.
The petrol engine is quiet enough, although you do need to work it fairly hard when overtaking. The diesels are smooth and hushed. Considering the car's boxy shape, wind noise isn't a big problem.
The Berlingo gives you a lot of space for the money. Citroen dealers are usually prepared to offer a discount, and this hasn't dented the Berlingo's resale values too badly in the past. Running costs will be reasonable, too, with the diesels achieving around 50mpg on average.
As befits a car that's aimed at families and small businesses, the Berlingo is built from tough, rather than luxurious, materials. However it all feels well put together, and the plastics don't look cheap. Citroen scored reasonably well in our last reliability survey, and owners reported reasonable reliability in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Two airbags come as standard, which doesn't compare well with safety offerings from rivals. Side or curtain airbags and an electronic stability programme aren't even an option with the basic VT spec car. Three seats feature ISOFIX child-seat-mounting points as standard, and child locks are an option. Only the base model misses out on remote central locking with deadlocks; an alarm is optional.
Not everyone will be a fan of the upright driving position, but two-way steering wheel adjustment makes it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and visibility is fine. Everything is logically arranged, with the gear lever positioned just below the dash.
Storage in the footwells, roof, dash, and under the seats should satisfy even the most dedicated hoarder. Opt for the Modutop roof, and you can add drop-down storage boxes in the roof or interior roof bars for your snowboard. Sliding rear doors make it easy to get anyone in and out, particularly in cramped spaces. The option of three separate rear seats makes the Berlingo one of the few five-seat cars suitable for carrying three children in child restraints across the back. The boot is vast.
Basic VT models are pretty sparsely kitted with a CD player, front electric windows, and a split-folding rear bench. Air-con is an option on this and mid-range VTR models, and you can raid the options list for luxuries such as parking sensors, sat-nav and cruise control. Range-topping XTR cars have slightly raised suspension, more rugged looks, and bigger tyres, as well as an MP3 socket, front side airbags and three individual rear seats fitted as standard.
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Overall, this has to be our favourite Berlingo: a decent package of equipment, a strong yet flexible and economical engine, plus plenty of space and practicality.