What Car? says...
If you feel like you’ve seen the Citroën Dispatch before, well, you probably have – it's one of five badge-engineered versions of basically the same medium van.
You see, you can buy a Dispatch with a different nose and from a different dealer as the Fiat Scudo, the Peugeot Expert, the Toyota ProAce or the Vauxhall Vivaro depending on which takes your fancy. (There’s also an electric van version – see our Citroën ë-Dispatch review to read about that.)
The entry-level Dispatch gets a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that kicks out 101bhp and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, but most will be ordered with the 2.0-litre engine, which is available with 121bhp, 148bhp or 175bhp. The 121bhp unit comes with a choice of either manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes, the 148bhp model can only be had as a manual, and the 175bhp engine comes as standard with the auto gearbox.
There’s only one roof height available on the Dispatch, but Citroën gives you three length options and a choice of two bodystyles – the basic panel van and the crew cab (which has an extra row of seats). There are also four trims: entry-level X takes care of the basics, Worker adds utilitarian extras, Enterprise gives you plusher fixtures and fittings, and top-of-the-range Driver gains smarter styling and more features.
So, should you buy a Citroën Dispatch, or would you be better off with one of the other badge-engineered models. Or, indeed, should you be considering the main medium-van rivals too (namely the Ford Transit, the Mercedes Vito or the VW Transporter)?
That's what we'll tell you over the next few pages of this in-depth Citroën Dispatch review. It covers its performance and handling, what it's like in the cab in terms of roominess and quality, how good a job it does as a practical load-lugger, and more.
And when you’ve finished, don’t forget that we can help you find brilliant car and van leasing deals if you search the What Car? Leasing pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The latest Dispatch not only looks much more attractive than its predecessor, but Citroën has also made huge improvements to the way it drives. Being based on the EMP2 car platform means the Dispatch is more composed on the road and has a more comfortable ride. Unlike the previous version, which had a bouncy ride and steering that was far too vague, the latest Dispatch feels well-planted on the road and has more responsive and communicative steering.
The most powerful version of the new 2.0-litre engine has plenty of pulling power, helping it to feel at home both pootling around built-up areas and at cruising speed on a motorway. However, the 1.6-litre 114bhp is our engine of choice because it returns the best fuel economy with a claimed 55.4mpg, its power delivery is smooth and, even fully laden, it still has just enough grunt to make decent progress.
The Dispatch has a decent seating position now too. The old model’s driver seat was badly offset from the steering wheel, which caused fatigue very quickly, but in the new Dispatch the driver sits directly behind the steering column. The seat is lower than before, which adds to the passenger car vibe, but also adversely affects visibility. The side mirrors are small, too, so not great for reversing or monitoring blind-spots.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Citroën Dispatch's cabin is now much more car-like and there’s been a massive improvement in the quality of the plastics used and the appearance of the dashboard and steering wheel.
Entry-level X models come with cruise control, remote central-locking, DAB radio with Bluetooth and connections for USB and auxiliary devices. It’s a good starting point for what is an affordable and competitively priced van. Middle trim level Enterprise vans add one-touch electric windows, air-con, a 7.0in touchscreen, automatic lights and wipers, electric heated mirrors and storage under the passenger seat.
Moving up to range-topping Enterprise Plus adds exterior trim upgrades, including body coloured bumpers and LED daytime running lights, as well as more useful kit, including front and rear parking sensors with a rear camera, electric folding mirrors, and a 3D Connected navigation system with voice recognition.
Storage is quite limited, with just a small radio-sized hole, an open glovebox and a narrow shelf just above that. The real storage is in the split level door pockets, and under the seats on the Enterprise and Enterprise Plus vans.
Despite hampering visibility, the low driver’s seat makes the Dispatch one of the more comfortable medium vans. The steering is height adjustable and there’s ample forward and backward travel in the seat with good support for your thighs and lower back.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
With three lengths to choose from, the Citroën Dispatch offers more choice than most medium vans. The compact XS model measures 4600mm and competes with small vans such as the Nissan NV200 and the Renault Kangoo Maxi. It has a maximum storage area length of 2160mm.
The standard size M van measures up at 4950mm with a 2510mm load length, and the largest XL version is 5300mm front to rear and can transport a 2860mm length. All three versions can be fitted with a folding front passenger seat and load-through bulkhead hatch to provide an additional 1160mm of usable space for pipework or lengths of wood.
As well as panel van versions, there's a combi minibus (with three rows of seats and space for nine passengers), a six-seat crew van and a platform cab for specialist conversions. Load volumes equate to 5.1m3, 5.8m3 and 6.6m3 respectively for the three body sizes.
The overall height of the Dispatch is 1940mm with an internal load height of 1397mm. The model has a best-in-class payload of 1498kg for a 3.1-tonne van and up to 1100kg for lower-rated 2.6-tonne vans.
Twin side doors are standard, and there’s a really smart optional hands-free load space opening system. If you wave your foot under rear bumper at the side of the van you wish to open, the side door will open. It’s not foolproof, but on a wet day when you don’t want to put boxes on the floor, it’s a great way to get the doors open.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Fuel economy has improved significantly with the introduction of the Euro 6 BlueHDi engines. The most fuel-efficient unit is the 114bhp 1.6-litre, which returns 55.3mpg officially and has CO2 emissions of 133g/km. The entry-level 94bhp engine with manual transmission has an official figure of 51.3mpg, while the range-topping 178bhp engine is does 46.3mpg.
Although the Dispatch is a very competitively priced van that beats much of the competition on sticker price and for standard equipment, we’d still urge buyers to consider which engine and trim they need. The 114bhp 1.6-litre is our choice for efficiency and refinement, and unless you really want some of the smarter equipment, such as alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, we’d stick with mid-level Enterprise trim. It adds useful features, such as additional storage, over the base X trim.
The optional Park Assist 180 system is also worth adding because it has a reversing camera that zooms in on objects to give you a clearer idea of how much space you have. And, if you’re really feeling flushed for cash, the head-up display is a nifty option that is as likely to impress as it is be genuinely useful.
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About the author
George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.
Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.
Yes it does (unless it’s the electric version, the Citroën e-Dispatch). The 1.5-litre engine’s timing belt needs changing every 10 years or 120,000 miles, whichever comes up sooner. Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre engine’s needs changing every 10 years or 106,000 miles.
The Dispatch’s weight will vary depending on which bodystyle and version you choose, but
gross vehicle weights range from 2,620kg up to 3,100kg.