What Car? says...
Citroën has always been one to push the envelope, whether it be with unusual designs or experimental technologies. Years ago, it pioneered energy management to improve fuel economy in its humble Berlingo van by making the alternator more efficient and recovering small amounts of kinetic energy.
This was an early indication that harnessing wasted energy was on its radar and that a battery Berlingo was a possibility. And when the Citroën Berlingo Electric and its Peugeot Partner Electric twin arrived, they certainly helped popularise the concept of small battery-powered vans.
Now every manufacturer is rushing to install batteries into their small vans, though, so is the Berlingo Electric still able to slog it out with rivals such as the Renault Kangoo ZE and Nissan eNV200?
Well, with its batteries located under the floor, there is no compromise to the Berlingo Electric’s load space, meaning it has a capacity of up to 3.7 cubic metres. Power is provided by a single 49kW motor that returns an official range of 106 miles.
Just one trim level is available, too, making the Berlingo Electric one of the most straightforward line-ups of any van range.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
With its batteries positioned beneath the floor, the Berlingo Electric has a lot of evenly distributed, low-down weight. That means it feels really sharp to drive, even considering that it's based on the previous-generation Berlingo, which dates back to 2008.
The newer diesel-powered Berlingo is without doubt a much better vehicle all round, but the Berlingo Electric doesn't suffer as much from the overly soft suspension and jelly-like body control of the older model.
The 49kW motor won’t set your world on fire, but it's lively enough to get you places – helped by the absence of gears. In fact, the Berlingo Electric is slightly more powerful than its main rival, the Kangoo ZE, although the Berlingo Electric doesn’t have as much range as the Renault.
To make matters worse, you're unlikely to achieve anything close to the official figure of 106 miles; around 80 miles between charges is a more realistic figure. Rapid charging is included as standard, though, so a brief top-up of around 30 minutes will take the battery up to around 80%. If you’re using a standard 3kW household charger, replenishing the batteries will take eight to 10 hours.