Citroen’s pug-alike heavy Relay van is never going to win any beauty contests, but it does possess more rugged, practical virtues.
We tested the Relay 30 in short-wheelbase, low roof-height guise (L1H1), after recent changes including the introduction of stop-start, improving the fuel economy from 37.7mpg to 39.2. Power comes from a 2.2-litre 130hp diesel engine linked to six-speed manual transmission. The drivetrain has a good pair of lungs and provides ample power for motorway journeys, and while our van did not have cruise control, it is available as an option with a fixed 56mph or 62mph limiter for £170, excluding VAT. Meanwhile, large, electronically adjustable wing mirrors with wide angle view sections give the driver good awareness of what’s going on behind the van, particularly when changing lanes.
But once off the motorway, the Relay’s gear change is not the slickest and its unrefined notchiness tends to make driving around town hard work. More annoyingly, the manufacturer’s recently installed Stop&Start system refused to cut in, despite much of our time being spent in urban environments.
More impressive is the £900, excluding VAT, Enterprise Pack that provides aircon, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, a full-steel bulkhead and rear parking sensors.
Citroen’s Trafficmaster Smartnav telematics and Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking system is a standard fit on all
Relays, and the model we tested was the first to get a 5.0-inch higher res colour screen to replace the 4.3-inch screen previously used. Curiously, there’s no gear shift indicator.
The cabin contains copious amounts of storage space including an overhead shelf and enough room under the seat for a large toolkit, although this is not concealed from view. The middle seat contains a drop-down desk unit. The driver’s seat is upright and quite hard but does come with lumbar support and the steering wheel is adjustable for both rake and reach. Unfortunately ESP is not standard, and is a £310 extra, excluding VAT.
On the plus side, the load bay, which is accessed by twin rear doors and a sliding nearside door, is sensibly ply-lined to protect it from damage.
A good long-distance road runner and rugged load lugger but less refined than its rivals.