Citroën Berlingo long-term test: report 4

The Citroën Berlingo is one of our favourite people carriers, with space and practicality almost beyond measure. But what's it like in daily life? Time to find out...

Citroen Berlingo interior

The car Citroën Berlingo BlueHDi 130 Flair XTR M EAT8 Run by Will Williams, senior photographer  

Why it’s here We know the Berlingo is a practical choice, but can it also show a wealth of other talents for a young family?

Needs to Be comfortable and efficient, function as a mobile office and have plenty of space for camera kit and the family

Miles 4698 List price £27,635 Target Price £26,437 Price as tested £28,180 Test economy 42.7mpg Official economy 49.5mpg

1 March 2021 – At home in town or country

For the most part, my Citroën Berlingo continues to charm, thanks to its old-school practicality and the sort of cushy ride that makes every journey refreshingly relaxing. Indeed, the way it soaks up bumps puts my fiancé’s BMW 1 Series to shame, despite that having the smallest wheels and softest suspension (at least, I think it has suspension) available.

True, the Berlingo feels happiest cruising at a gentle pace. However, when you put your foot down a little more, it fares a lot better than you’d imagine for something so tall and van-like. The amount of body lean through corners is never alarming, and so far the door handles and exterior mirrors remain scuff free.

Citroen Berlingo lights

It’s just a shame the steering isn’t better, with it generally feeling like there’s a pause between me first turning the wheel and the power steering kicking in. Meanwhile, the subsequent resistance is always a bit artificial. Dynamically, the steering is the only thing about my Berlingo that I don’t gel with.

The 1.5-litre diesel engine, on the other hand, is another strength, because it’s surprisingly punchy for something with just 128bhp. Overtaking slow traffic or joining faster roads isn’t the problem I’d anticipated, even when the car is loaded up with all my heavy photography kit.

In addition, the engine mates really well with the eight-speed automatic gearbox; most of the time the latter is so smooth that it shifts without me really noticing. Like a lot of modern autos, it can be a little slow to respond when pulling away from a standstill, but you get used to this and anticipate moving off a second earlier.  

It’s a shame, then, especially for those who cover high mileages, that this engine and gearbox combo has just been discontinued. Most buyers are obviously keener on petrol power these days, and the automatic gearbox in my car is now available only in combination with the Puretech 130 petrol engine.

Citroen Berlingo side

Returning to the Berlingo's boxy shape, this really helps when maneuvering, because it makes it easy to judge where the extremities of the car are. Combined with big windows, enormous, safety-boosting door mirrors and a turning circle that’s almost a match for a London Cab’s, it means the Berlingo can perform miracles in tight spaces.

The only disappointment in terms of visibility is related to the old-fashioned halogen headlights. They’re fine on main beam, but on busy roads in poor weather, the dipped lights simply aren’t up to the job. Given that my car is a top-spec, near-£28,000 Flair XTR model, it feels like LED headlights should at least be an option. Even the Dacia Sandero – the UK's cheapest new car and our reigning Car of the Year – can be specified with them.

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