What's the used Citroën Berlingo estate like?
When you move house, suddenly every box you can lay your hands on is incredibly desirable. It doesn’t matter what it once contained; you’re going to repurpose it into a carrier of delicate plates or priceless jewellery – frankly anything that’ll fit in it.
In such circumstances, it seems odd that our taste for boxy vehicles generally revolves around SUVs, and cars like the Citroen Berlingo get overlooked – after all, it is a Seriously Useful Vehicle. It's been around in various forms over the years but they’ve all been boxy, spacious and fairly inexpensive to buy and run. This current version continues that legacy but feels more car-like, slightly more refined and, dare one say it, more upmarket? And it turns out it makes a fine used alternative to an expensive SUV.
Engine choices are a 109bhp turbocharged three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel that comes in various states of tune: 74bhp, 99bhp and 128bhp. The petrol is nicely refined and remarkably capable of motivating even the larger seven-seat XL long-wheelbase version (there are two body styles, a regular five-seat Berlingo and a longer and slightly taller XL model), but it will struggle with a full complement of luggage and passengers. Those who regularly carry a car full of people will need the more powerful and torquier diesel, and if you plump for the 128bhp version, you can choose a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Equipment levels are generous because even the entry-level Feel comes with air con, auto lights and wipers, an automatically dimming rear view mirror, cruise control, an 8.0in infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with safety equipment like lane keep assist, fatigue warning, autonomous emergency braking and speed limit recognition. Flair adds 16in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, sat nav and adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat. If you go for Flair, then you might be able to find one with the XTR pack on five-seat Berlingo models that comes with a different alloy wheel design, orange highlights on the exterior and some unique interior fabric on the seats.
Take one look at the tall exterior of the Berlingo and it’ll come as no surprise to find that it isn’t the wieldiest of vehicles out there to drive. However, grip levels are still sufficient and body control is decent enough that it won’t embarrass itself in the bends by leaning over excessively. The steering is light and pretty quick for this type of car, and makes parking easy – especially relevant when the biggest XL version is 4.75m in length. Wind noise can be heard at motorway speeds due to the upright windscreen and big door mirrors, but road noise is well subdued. You can even take it on a long distance cruise without regret; the ride is really comfortable without being nauseatingly floaty over crests.
The Berlingo is ideal for families who need to travel with multiple child seats. When we tested the Vauxhall Combo Life (a car to which the Berlingo is closely related) we found that you could fit three separate child seats across the second row. However, the third row on XL models isn’t suitable for a child’s car seat, according to the experts at EuroNCAP. If you need to fit more than three safety seats, consider a Peugeot 5008 instead. Grandparents, meanwhile. should be happy enough in the third row – the seats can be moved forwards and backwards to increase leg room at the expense of luggage capacity.
Speaking of which, the vast space at the back of the Berlingo will be appreciated by parents, as will the boot's highly practical, squared-off shape. On smaller five-seat cars you can get an extra storage locker on the ceiling, along with a transparent bridge that runs from the rear of the car to the front. This provides storage to keep small items, such as sunglasses, safe and out of the way. These extra storage spaces are helpful because there is no traditional glovebox on right-hand drive cars – instead, there's a small storage area in the top of the dashboard where you’d expect the passenger airbag to be. There still is a passenger airbag, but it deploys from the roof lining, if you were wondering.
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