Citroën Berlingo long-term test
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...
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 passengers
Miles 5062 List price £27,635 Target Price £26,437 Price as tested £28,180 Dealer Price now £18,711 Private Price now £16,632 Trade-in Price now £16,657 Test Economy 42.7mpg Official Economy 49.5mpg Total cost (excluding depreciation) Replacement tyre due to puncture £139.20, Adblue £12, Fuel £514.52
12 April 2021 – Bye Bye Berlingo
The Citroën Berlingo has left my driveway, and after three months of living with it I’ve come to love this nonconformist maverick. At a time when so many of us are choosing SUVs over traditional family cars and people carriers, I feel proud to have chosen the latter. It may have suspension softer than daytime TV and not the faintest notion of a competitive laptime, but it also offers a very comfortable ride and more space than anyone could reasonably want, all at a price which is very pleasant indeed.
I like the way the Berlingo goes about the business of moving people and luggage. Its overhead storage lockers, shelves and panoramic roof with dimmable ambient lighting reminded me of flying first class.
I was also impressed by the quality of materials on show. You see, the Berlingo features a lot of what I’d called 'lubber' – my invented word for the combined stitched leather and rubber-looking panels you find in the Citroën. It works wonders, lifting the interior ambiance beyond those of its Vauxhall Combo Life and Peugeot Rifter siblings. The seats, with their vibrant flashes of orange stitching, do the same job.
You would, of course, expect a car based on the Berlingo van to be practical, but for me the impressive thing is that, in doing so, it doesn’t compromise its effectiveness as great family transport or getting me to far-flung photoshoot locations in comfort. Even with all of my camera gear and the detritus that accompanies my 19-month-old son Callum in tow, I never managed to completely fill the Berlingo’s boot.
There were plenty of cubbies dotted around inside the Berlingo, but some of them were a stretch away, so it might have been useful to have a covered central console with an adjustable armrest to keep things a bit closer to hand. You can select the option of a covered central box but it seemed a bit over the top when the car already had armrests and abundant pockets to store my many snacks.
The only slight niggles (and betrayers of the Berlingo’s van-based origins) were its thick B-pillar, which restricted over-the-shoulder visibility, and the space where the bulkhead would be in the van, which meant I lost a few vital centimetres of legroom. This was a bit grating since there was such generous rear seat legroom.
Right from day one, I was impressed with the sliding rear doors, which made loading Callum in and out through the large void impressively easy and meant that narrow parking spaces posed no problem.
The Citroën also impressed me with its overall refinement. Yes, the diesel engine was a bit vocal if you revved it hard, but considering the size of the double-height wing mirrors and vast shape, it cut through the air pretty quietly.
Driving in high winds and overtaking trucks at motorway speeds could be a bit more ‘exciting’ than I’d have liked, though, because the car got blown around a fair bit because of the high sides and soft springing. It was noticeable enough that you’d sometimes have to make small adjustments to the steering.
Another gripe I had with the car was to do with seat comfort and ergonomics, which is usually a big selling point for Citroën. Yes, the driving position is much better than the original Berlingo, but unless you sit with the seat at its highest setting, you can’t adjust the central armrests. It results in it being hard to sit straight because your right arm is up high on the door armrest, while your left arm is low down, meaning you sit fairly skewed.
The seat base is quite short under your thighs so it’s not very supportive, even though my range-topping XTR car came with adjustable lumbar support. You had to shift your weight and use a crude lever to adjust the backrest angle, which is hardly ideal on long journeys.
Although it has recently been discontinued, the 1.5-litre diesel and eight-speed automatic gearbox combination was a punchy pairing and the 'box was very smooth.
Deciding on a replacement is going to be tough – I can’t think of anything that’ll come remotely close on the practicality front. That being said, perhaps something which mixes the Berlingo’s epic space with better long-distance comfort would be ideal. Let’s see.
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