The Citroen Berlingo majors on space and practicality, but it’s comfortable too. You’ll be disappointed if you’re after a fun drive, though, and its infotainment system is average
If you want to make sure your new car has brilliant space and practicality, basing it on a van is a great place to start. Indeed, the Citroen Berlingo is available as a van, but in its people carrier guise you see here, it doesn’t look feel anywhere near as rudimentary.
OK, so the styling is a little boxy on the outside, but Citroen has done well to spice things up with attractive alloy wheels, two-tier front lights, ‘Airbump’ side detailing and a choice of eight different exterior colours. The Citroen Berlingo shares many of its parts with the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo life, and arguably it’s the most distinctive.
Inside, there are different interior colour options to choose between and an 8.0in colour touchscreen sits in the middle of the dash. Yet, even with the flashes of colour and the Berlingo’s bright infotainment screen it’s difficult to ignore some of the cheaper-feeling plastics on show lower down on the dashboard and doors.
And it’s difficult to heap too much praise upon the infotainment system itself. The fact that Citroen includes DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard is generous, but sat-nav is reserved for pricier Flair models and the unit’s menu layout and response times are worse than the touchscreen systems in alternative MPVs.
However, more importantly, the Citroen Berlingo excels on space. It’s available in two forms – the five-seat-only M model and the seven-seat XL. Both offer huge amounts of room for the front passengers, while Flair models come with three individual sliding and reclining seats in the middle row which are also have generous space for adults. Entry-level Feel cars get a 60:40 split folding rear bench instead.
Still, each middle row seat also comes with easy-to-find Isofix point on both trims, and the Berlingo’s sliding rear doors mean superb rear access. Another stand-out feature is the sheer amount of storage on offer. In fact, you can have up to 28 different cubbies totalling some 186 litres of space, although beware some of these are optional extras.
More people will need a Berlingo, than want one, true. But there’s a reason you see so many: they’re cheap to buy and run, and few cars are as useful day-to-day
The XL’s rearmost seats don’t fold into the boot floor but do fold forward and can be slid back and forth or removed completely. Flair models also come with a folding front passenger seat, meaning you load long items from the boot entrance right through to the dashboard.
Not surprisingly the Citroen Berlingo’s boot is also huge. M models get 775 litres and XL models with their rearmost seats removed offer up a massive 1050 litres. That’s multiple large suitcases, golf bags or bicycles taken care of.
There are no less than five engines choices – two petrol and three diesel. If you carry out most of your driving in urban areas with lighter loads then one of the petrols is a safe bet. The three-cylinder Puretech 110 comes with a six-speed manual and feels punchy enough for in and out of town use, making the more expensive automatic-only 130 version seem unnecessary.
If you spend more time on the motorway or you’ll be using your Berlingo for towing or hauling all your lifestyle equipment then one of the diesels is a better choice. It’s worth avoiding the entry-level BlueHDi 75 as it feels a little underpowered. Instead, the 100 or 130 BlueHDi diesels are stronger and similarly fuel efficient at around 65mpg combined, although you’ll have to have the more expensive 130 if you want an automatic gearbox.
Don’t expect your Berlingo to win any track days – it’s about comfort first and foremost. As such is manages to smooth out all but the worst ruts and potholes and its steering is light for easy low-speed manoeuvrability rather than intricate cornering precision.
Feel trim gets a good level of equipment including automatic headlights and wipers, air-con, cruise control, a leather steering wheel and Citroen’s 8.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the safety front, automatic emergency city braking, active lane keeping assist and speed limit recognition are all included, although it’s a shame that an alarm is optional on all Berlingos.
Flair models add 16in alloy (rather than steel) wheels, roof bars, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and those clever individual rear seats so is worth the extra.
So, if you’re happy to forgo sleek styling in the name of superb space and practicality then the Citroen Berlingo is well worth a look. It is at least the most interesting to look at next to its Vauxhall and Peugeot counterparts, and all three are priced closely enough for that to make a difference for some.