Citroën Berlingo Van long-term test
The Citroën Berlingo Van promises car-like comfort and efficiency, and the practicality of, well, a van. Our photographer is living with one to see if it delivers...
The Car Citroën Berlingo Van Panel Driver Pro XL BlueHDi 130 EAT8 Run by Max Edleston, photographer
Why it’s here To show just how far modern vans have come
Needs to Serve as both a practical working vehicle and weekend leisure transport
Mileage 25,004 List price £24,995 Target Price £24,995 Price as tested £27,205 Test economy 45.5mpg Official economy 47.7mpg Dealer price now £21,924 Price price now £19,488 Running costs (excl. depreciation) £4115 fuel
9 February 2023 – All good things
According to insurance provider Nimblefins, the average person will cover 7400 miles by car this year. Covering that sort of mileage should let you get to know a car very well indeed. Imagine how well I know my Citroën Berlingo van, then, having covered more than three times that distance during my time with it.
You see, the life of a What Car? photographer involves spending lots of time on the road. Our working days regularly begin (and end) when the world is dark, and we travel across the country collecting the pictures you see in the magazine every month, and online too. That means I prioritise comfort above all else when I’m choosing my next vehicle, and, thankfully, that’s one area where the Berlingo has excelled.
Let’s start with ride comfort – traditionally an area where Citroën’s road cars perform very strongly. The Berlingo made light work of every inch of battered British B-road I threw at it, so regardless of whether my commute that morning had lasted 40 minutes or four hours, I arrived at my destination feeling relaxed and ready to work. And once I arrived, the Berlingo’s smooth ride meant it became an ideal moving photography platform, useful for capturing those two, three or four-car images you see on many of our comparison tests.
The Berlingo was also enjoyable to drive, helped by agile steering which made the Berlingo feel responsive through corners, and a gutsy 238bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine which never felt short on puff.
As standard, the Berlingo comes with a five or six-speed manual gearbox depending on which engine you go for, but I’m glad I opted instead for the eight-speed automatic. It did a great job of managing the engine’s power, with fast, smooth changes.
And while my overall fuel economy didn’t quite match the Berlingo’s official figure, I’m still impressed given how varied the life of my van was. It could easily find itself covering hundred-mile motorway journeys before sprinting to keep pace with test cars at our private track, for example.
Of course, getting those images generally requires a lot of extra kit, which meant I put the Berlingo’s spacious load bay to good use too. But no matter what I put into it, whether it was photography gear, garden waste or even the trappings of several friends’ homes as they moved house, the Berlingo just shrugged it off.
We even measured it up to take my small motorcycle at one point; it would have fitted with no problem and, incredibly, would have been within the maximum payload allowance, but plans changed and I didn’t get the opportunity to test out the theory.
Two aspects of the load bay that I think made life especially easy were the plethora of hooks in the walls, and the wooden flooring. The former provided lots of lashing points to keep items secure in transit, while the latter made it a quick job to sweep the back out after a trip to the garden centre. If I had my time with the Berlingo again, however, I’d invest in some rubber mats to lay over the wooden floor, since I did find some items prone to sliding around the back if they weren’t properly tied down.
And then there’s the technology which has made life with the Berlingo so much easier; the adaptive cruise control which has helped to take the stress out of long trips, and the smartphone mirroring, which means I’m never out of communication with the office for long. The Surround Rear Vision parking cameras have been extremely helpful, too, in manouevrung the Berlingo into even the tightest of parking spots.
All of this will make you understand why I’m sad to see my Berlingo van depart. I knew when it arrived that it would make my work life easier – but what’s surprised me is how well it’s slotted into my personal life, too. Passengers reported that the seats were comfortable and supportive, and even when I’ve loaded the Berlingo to the gunwales with people and luggage, it’s never been anything other than a dependable, comfortable companion.
In fact, so good has the Berlingo been that it’s prompted me to stick with something van-shaped for my next company car, too. And more on that soon.
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