Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Citroën Berlingo's 99bhp diesel (BlueHDi 100) feels sprightlier than its 12.7sec 0-62mph time would suggest, and it's a solid performer in terms of low and mid-range grunt. That means it'll cope with towing or hauling along the whole family and their luggage.
Our favourite engine in the range is the 109bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol (Puretech 110), though. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it’s very flexible, pulls solidly from low revs and has enough mid-range clout to suit the more compact five-seat M model. It also feels peppy enough if you’re prepared to rev it hard (0-62mph comes along in 11.5sec). The manual ’box, meanwhile, shifts fairly smoothly, although it isn't as precise as the ones you’ll find in the Ford S-Max and VW Touran.
If you need a petrol with even more poke, there's the 128bhp Puretech 130. Not only is it the most powerful engine in the range – making it well-suited to the seven-seat XL version – but it also comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox (EAT8). The ’box can cause a few unwanted vibrations in the interior when you're parking and is a bit hesitant when you ask it to kick down, but otherwise changes gears slickly on the move. It's not a bad choice if you have to have an automatic, but opting for this engine and gearbox does push up the price.
The petrols and the diesel engine are all pretty quiet but they do have distinct sounds – the petrols thrum away keenly while the diesel produces more of a background rumble. On motorways, any road noise is well suppressed, but there’s some wind noise from around the Berlingo's big door mirrors and substantial windscreen area. The Galaxy and Touran are quieter in that respect.
As for handling, the steering is light enough at low speeds (jolly helpful when you're parking a car with such a large footprint) and it's decently accurate on faster, flowing roads. You'll notice plenty of body lean through quick corners, but while the Berlingo doesn't handle as tidily as the S-Max and Touran, it is surprisingly surefooted (considering it's based on a van) and definitely easy to manage.
It's quite softly sprung, so it rides well too. Over bigger undulations (speed bumps and the like) the Berlingo is pleasantly supple, and it traverses potholes and sharper intrusions very well. If maximum comfort is your thing, the ride in the Ford Galaxy is even more polished, but that's a much more expensive choice.
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