New Citroën Dispatch review

Category: Medium Van

The Dispatch is an attractive option as a medium-sized panel van but there are some compromises

Citroën Dispatch front left driving
  • Citroën Dispatch front left driving
  • Citroën Dispatch front left driving
  • Citroën Dispatch dashboard
  • Citroën Dispatch load bay
  • Citroën Dispatch driver display
  • Citroën Dispatch headlights detail
  • Citroën Dispatch rear camera
  • Citroën Dispatch infotainment touchscreen
  • Citroën Dispatch heated steering wheel control
  • Citroën Dispatch heated seat control
  • Citroën Dispatch front left driving
  • Citroën Dispatch front left driving
  • Citroën Dispatch dashboard
  • Citroën Dispatch load bay
  • Citroën Dispatch driver display
  • Citroën Dispatch headlights detail
  • Citroën Dispatch rear camera
  • Citroën Dispatch infotainment touchscreen
  • Citroën Dispatch heated steering wheel control
  • Citroën Dispatch heated seat control
What Car?’s Dispatch deals

Introduction

What Car? says...

Citroën holds an odd place in the Stellantis quartet of van brands. It leads the compact sector with its Berlingo van, outselling the Ford Transit Connect and Vauxhall Combo, but fades away when stepping up a size to this, the Citroën Dispatch panel van.

The Dispatch edges out the mechanically identical Fiat Scudo, reintroduced to the UK relatively recently after a six-year absence, but manages less than a quarter of the sales of the closely related Vauxhall Vivaro and can’t get near the UK’s best-selling van, the (unrelated) Ford Transit Custom.

The whole Stellantis-built medium van range – also including the Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace – has been refreshed for 2024, and Citroën has leaned into its French history to separate the Dispatch from its siblings and try to gain an edge against its rivals.

It starts with style. The Dispatch has Citroën’s new "old" logo, with a bold badge on the grille that harks back to the 1919 original found on the front of the Type A road car. The grille is a narrow slot linking the headlights, which contain eye-catching vertical and horizontal LED daytime running lights. There’s a more thorough update inside, with the cab getting a significant makeover with new tech and a more practical interior.

Read on to find out how we rate the new Citroën Dispatch against the best medium vans you can get, and which version we recommend...

Overview

The Citroën Dispatch has all the strengths of the more popular Vauxhall Vivaro – and all the same weaknesses. It's good to drive and good value to buy and run, while the new interior offers drivers a pleasant workspace (let down slightly by an offset driving position). The cargo area will cope with more weight than many rivals but can’t compete on volume. If your needs fit between the load-lugging extremes, it's a good choice.

  • Can carry a heavy load and tow plenty behind it
  • Pleasant driving experience
  • Lots of equipment for a competitive price
  • Twisted driving position can cause trouble
  • No high roof option
  • Cargo volume is lower than its rivals

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Pulling a large load doesn’t need a large engine, as Citroën proves by fitting the Dispatch with a 1.5-litre diesel – although there’s the option of a more powerful 2.0-litre unit for those who need more power.

How much more? The entry-level engine puts out 118hp, while the larger option takes that to 142bhp. While that’s a reasonable gap in power, the difference in torque – what you need to pull heavy loads – is relatively small, with outputs of 221lb/ft and 251lb/ft respectively.

Both have a six-speed manual gearbox that, while light to operate, doesn’t feel particularly involving thanks to a slightly vague and rubbery action. The 2.0-litre model is available with an impressive eight-speed automatic gearbox which comes with the added bonus of another 22lb/ft of torque. If you can stretch to that combination, it’s the one to go for.

Most will be satisfied with the 1.5-litre choice, which is the smoothest and quietest of the trio, and only marginally slower. Stellantis don’t publish 0-62mph times for its vans, but the passenger-carrying model manages the sprint in 14.3 seconds, improving to 12.6 seconds for the 2.0-litre. The difference is barely perceptible, especially with a 250kg load.

Citroën Dispatch image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

Citroën makes use of its parent firm’s platform sharing, so underneath the bodywork is the same basic chassis as you’ll find in a Vauxhall Vivaro and cars as diverse as the DS 9 and Vauxhall Astra.

The good news is that means the Dispatch is imbued with a degree of verve that, until the Ford Transit Custom turned up, was as good as you’d get in the medium vans sector. It’s not quite car-like in its handling and comfort, but there’s a quality to the steering that pleases, and body roll is kept well in check.

Comfort levels are good, with less bounce from the suspension when running an empty van than you’ll experience in the Renault Master or VW Transporter. It can’t match the class leader, though: the Transit Custom gets closer to car-like levels of comfort than any other vans before it. The Mercedes Vito is impressively smooth too.

Opting for the electric version – the Citroën ë-Dispatch – improves matters a little, as the heavy battery pack smooths the ride.

Citroën Dispatch front left driving

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Citroën has put in a lot of effort into revising the Dispatch’s interior, and it’s worked very well. Gone is the tediously dull but functional cab to be replaced by something that, while not exactly rewriting definitions of exciting, does look significantly more modern.

It’s not quite on par with the new Ford Transit Custom but the 10in infotainment touchscreen and digital instrument panel make it feel like a new van. As you might expect, it includes all the essential connectivity features you’ll need, including USB and Bluetooth options, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The only digital element the entry-level Enterprise model lacks is navigation, but a plugged-in smartphone with a sat-nav app will solve that. In Driver spec connected navigation is included.

Both models get a 10in digital instrument display for the driver. It’s crisp and clear enough, with some basic customisation so it can display just essential information or be augmented with navigation, audio or other details you might want to have in front of you.

While the view in the cab is fine, looking outside isn’t quite as good. The small door mirrors limit rear visibility, especially as there’s no extra wide-angle lens like the Transit Custom's or mirror built into the sun visor, which you get in the Renault Trafic.

That said, the Driver trim model gets Dynamic Surround View, which provides a digital rear-view mirror mounted at the top of the windscreen. It shows a digital stream of the view behind the van, with a small picture-in-picture display from a camera mounted on the side of the van covering the blind-spot. It's impressive once you get used to it, but the lens's wide angle and high position don’t help you when manoeuvring in tight spots.

The driver benefits from six-way adjustable seats, with lumbar support and an armrest – only for the left arm though, so your right arm is relegated to the surprisingly hard window frame. The steering wheel is adjustable for both reach and rake, but it’s still tricky to get a truly comfortable driving position. That's down to the offset position of both the pedals and steering wheel, leaving you twisting slightly in the seat.

Citroën Dispatch dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

While there have been many changes at the front of the Citroën Dispatch, nothing has changed at the more important end of the van, so there remains a mix of good and bad news.

Let’s start with the bad. If you want to carry a huge volume of cargo – perhaps you want to move lots of boxes of crisps – the Dispatch falls short of other medium vans. With two body lengths but only one roof height, load volumes range from 5.3m3 to 6.1m3. The Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes Vito, Nissan Primastar, Renault Trafic and VW Transporter all offer at least an extra 0.5m3, while even the taxi-based LEVC VN5 slightly beats the shorter Dispatch.

Looking at the positives, the Dispatch is large enough to squeeze two Euro pallets in the back, with the longer option able to take three. They can also be loaded with heavy goods, as the van has impressively high payload limits.

If you pick the right model you can carry up to 1,384kg of cargo (although the 1.5-litre model has to give up around 200kg due to a lower gross vehicle mass of 2,830kg). That’s 100kg or so ahead of the Transporter and Trafic, and around half a tonne more than the Vito and VN5 can manage, although the new Ford Transit Custom can edge out the Dispatch with its 1,416kg limit on the best-performing variants.

Access to the load area is particularly easy because the Dispatch gets sliding doors on both sides of the van, unlike the Transit Custom’s single door. Twin doors at the back swing open to 180 degrees, revealing a 1,282mm wide opening and allowing a forklift driver to pull up to the bumper and slide those Euro pallets into place.

The sole roof height option also means the van stands just 1.9m high, so getting in and out of multi-storey car parks or other height-restricted areas shouldn’t present a problem.

If you need to carry more people than cargo, you can get a Dispatch crew van with an extra row of three seats in the back, but you’ll have to forego some of the 2.1m3 load volume.

Citroën Dispatch load bay

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Outside of engine choice and length, there’s just one other very simple decision to make with the Citroën Dispatch – do you want the basic Enterprise spec or the plusher Driver trim?

Both are fitted with the same 10in infotainment system and all the connectivity and technology that comes with it, and each has air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and hidden storage under the passenger seat.

Splashing out on the Driver model line adds larger wheels with faux-alloy wheel covers, body-coloured bumpers and side mouldings, Dynamic Surround View and a folding passenger seat with a load-through panel that extends the cargo area slightly. Is it worth the extra? There’s little that’s essential for professional use, but built-in navigation and a Thatcham-approved alarm will sway some users.

Official fuel economy figures range from 34.0 to 44.8mpg, which is roughly what every other rival manages. The vagaries of daily driving mean they’ll net out to be broadly similar, apart from the LEVC VN5. This uses what is effectively a plug-in hybrid engine with a sizeable 34.6kWh battery pack that can power the van for up to 73 miles. The result is an official 382mpg efficiency figure – although you won't get close unless you charge it up frequently.

You can pick the Dispatch in electric van form, with a 75kWh battery pack and a range of up to 217 miles. The Citroën ë-Dispatch costs more, but lower energy costs, government grants and zero costs for entering low-emission zones could make a lot of that back.

Choosing the Dispatch over any of its Stellantis rivals really comes down to personal preference and probably dealer location — the Vauxhall network has about 50% more sites than Citroën's. Prices are all within a tiny percentage of each other, but it undercuts all of its other rivals, including the new Ford Transit Custom.

Warranty cover runs for three years or 100,000 miles, which is 40,000 miles more than the Transit Custom and the same as you’ll get on the Renault Trafic and VW Transporter. Nissan covers the Primastar for five years, while cover on the Mercedes Vito is limited to three years but there's no mileage limit.

The outlier is the Toyota Proace (which is built by Stellantis and – like the Peugeot Expert, Fiat Scudo and Vauxhall Vivaro – is identical to the Dispatch. A Proace will cost a little more, but it gets a 10-year service-activated warranty, which will be a boon to those who don't swap out vehicles every three years. It’s still limited to 100,000 miles though.


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Citroën Dispatch driver display

FAQs

  • The French van is a British success, being built at the Vauxhall plant in Luton. The electric van version – the Citroën ë-Dispatch – is made in France but production will move to the UK in 2025.

  • Yes – apart from some cosmetic differences on the noses and different badges, these medium vans are identical. Pick the one you can get the best deal on. The Dispatch also shares a production line with the equally similar Toyota Proace (which costs more but gets up to 10 years of warranty cover).