There are also some technological enhancements. Two key USPs are the onboard weighing system and the surround rear-vision camera. The first alerts you to the fact that you are at 90% of your total weight capacity, and then again when you are overloaded. The second system gives you a rear, side and reversing camera view of what is around you on a five-inch colour screen positioned in place of the rear-view mirror.
Both are options – although the overload indicator will feature as standard on ‘Work’ trim level – and both are brand new in the LCV segment.
Other smart systems seen elsewhere on rival products, but now included on the new vans, are traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, cornering lights, keyless entry, trailer stability control and distance alert, which warns of a possible forward collision.
Inside the three vehicles the changes are perhaps even more significant. The new interior is smart, well put together and above all else spacious, with different environments for each of the brands. Two- and three-seat options are available, with the centre seat in a three-seater also doubling up as a fold-down table for use as a mobile office.
There’s also a new design of the Extenso collapsible seat that allows 0.5m extra length to be carried thanks to a load-through bulkhead.
The stand-out interior design, however, is the Partner’s i-Cockpit. A reworking of Peugeot’s passenger car-designed interior, the i-Cockpit means the instrument cluster is mounted higher with different dials and gauges. The steering wheel is also flattened top and bottom, giving the interior a more modern feel.
With so many changes across the K9 platform, it’s hard not to get bogged down in the overall collective impact of the revisions. The new interior is far more comfortable and the tech is infinitely more impressive, but with many variants to choose from, it’s the engine and gearbox combination that needs careful consideration.
A new line of ‘ready to go’ models of the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo will be launched alongside the other trim levels to better cater for customer demands.
New Worker and Driver models will line-up alongside traditional entry-level and high-spec trims to enable customers to have vans that are better suited to their working needs. Worker vans target businesses that transport equipment and get three front seats, a 30mm-plus raised ground clearance as well as a protective plate under the engine and enhanced traction control.
There’s also a Loading Pack fitted as standard with LED lighting in the load area, overload indicator, and 12V and 220V power sockets. Driver versions are for companies and their employees, and are geared more towards longer trips or urban deliveries. Ride comfort has been improved along with acoustic sound deadening. There are more driver assistance systems with cruise control and speed limiter, an automatic electronic parking brake and the Surround Rear Vision camera system.
These models will be available from all three brands, but it is Citroen – known for its Ready to Run vehicle line-up of tipper, dropside and Luton vans – that is best placed to take the offer to its traditionally SME customer base.
Matt Weston, Citroen LCV product manager, said the new models will be “a one-stop solution for customers requiring ‘a tool to do a job’. They see the value in something that is presented as a solution to do a job – i.e. a cordless drill is a tool readily available to them that will make a job easier and is worth the extra cost over a corded drill as they appreciate the value of the benefits it will provide.”
As well as simplifying the buying process for a variety of different industry customers, the new vans will also benefit from enhanced residual values.
“They will be versions in their own right as part of the standard range. Therefore, they will have their own identification within the industry, which will enable leasers to quote on them. The other obvious advantage with this is that they will benefit from RVs that reflect the enhanced specification,” Weston added.
George Barrow is the UK judge for the International Van of the Year, the prestigious prize awarded by leading European LCV journalists
Citroen Berlingo 1.5 130hp EAT8 Auto
Price (ex VAT) £18,905*
Price range (ex VAT) £14,500-20,000*
Insurance group 14E
Service intervals 20,000mls
Load length 2,050mm
Load width 1,620mm
Load bay height 1,250mm
Gross payload 900kg*
Load volume 4.0m3*
Engine size/power 1,499cc/130hp
Combined fuel economy tbc
New engines, styling and tech, plus an excellent new auto transmission and a wide range to choose from make the Berlingo and its sister models a force to be reckoned with in the light van sector.