First Drive: Citroen Relay 35

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

If Postman Pat had a big brother he would probably drive the long-wheelbase, high-roof Euro5 Citroen Relay 35 resplendent in Pisano Red.

We recently tested a Relay 130 Enterprise, powered by a 130hp 2.2-litre HDi drivetrain mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It had many virtues, but subtlety was not one of them. The model is more gawky in appearance than rivals such as the Renault Master and Nissan NV400 and its interior is also less sophisticated than those of some competitors.
Nevertheless, it is a solid performer. The engine offers more power than its Euro4 120hp predecessor, and peak torque has stepped up from 300Nm to 320Nm. Consumption is a claimed 32.5mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions are 229g/km.
For such a big vehicle the Relay handles nimbly enough in urban environments where the manual transmission is precise, but it can be tiring after a long stint negotiating tight city streets. The 130 is more at home out on the open road where the availability of six gears matches its role as a long-distance workhorse. Cruise control, an option on our van, made motorway journeys more relaxing while a speed limiter has the potential to improve economy figures.
The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and height and we liked the position of the handbrake to the right of the driver’s seat, meaning it is not obstructed by the armrest to the left.
There is plenty of storage space, too, including a generous overhead shelf and large front door pockets with bottle holders, but the cup holder in the central console is difficult for the driver to reach, while the pull-out work surface with two cup holders housed in the middle seat back is useful but not as impressive as the swivel table found in the Master, NV400 and Movano.
The RDS stereo is OK on motorway journeys when tuned to talk stations but it becomes a tad shrill when switched to music.
The cavernous load bay is accessed through twin rear doors and a nearside, full-height, sliding door and plywood panelling protects the floor and side walls up to the waist rail. There are eight tie-down points on the floor, corresponding lashing eyes on the side walls, and the load compartment contains a 12V socket.
All things considered, Postman Pat’s big brother would probably give the Relay 35 the thumbs up.

 

Verdict

Lacks the sophistication of some new rivals but is still a capable long-distance workhorse.



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