Along with its stablemates, the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, the new Citroen Berlingo has certainly made its mark since arriving on the scene towards the end of last year.
All three models are traditionally strong performers in the light van sector but, particularly in the case of the Combo, had started to slip behind high-quality rivals such as the Ford Transit Connect and Volkswagen Caddy.
The new iterations have put the vans right back in the game and saw them scoop both the International Van of the Year award and the What Van? Light Commercial Vehicle of the Year Award for 2019.
Power for all three vans, which are available in two wheelbases, comes initially from a choice of a pair of diesel engines. Due to emissions regulations, a 1.6-litre Euro6.1 engine is on sale in some markets, including the UK, for the first nine months of production with outputs of 75hp and 100hp.
However, a more powerful but smaller-capacity 1.5-litre BlueHDi Euro6.2-compliant engine is also available with a 130hp output.
This newer engine will also supersede the 1.6 later this year and be available with the same lower power outputs. In the meantime the 1.6-litre engine gets a five-speed manual gearbox while the 1.5 comes mated to a six-speed transmission.
In the summer PSA is to add a 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine with 110hp and 130hp outputs to the brands’ line-ups.
The higher-powered petrol engine will get the slick new EAT8 auto transmission, which will also be available on the 130hp diesel model.
For now though, the pick of the bunch is the six-speed 130hp diesel driven here in a long-wheelbase Berlingo XL in Enterprise trim.
In Citroen’s new specification hierarchy Enterprise sits above X and Worker (although Worker is specifically tailored for more rugged applications, such as construction sites) and below the new flagship Driver.
In addition to X, Enterprise comes with air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control with variable speed-limiter, an automatic electronic parking brake, an alarm, one-touch electric windows with heated and folding mirrors, and a tyre pressure monitor. The cabin is comfortable and roomy (although the gear stick does restrict legroom for the passenger drawing the short straw and getting the middle seat) and there is a decent amount of storage space, including an overhead shelf.
Switches and controls are all within easy reach, including those mounted on the steering column, and the eight-inch colour touchscreen is simple to use and well placed for the driver to see. On our van it incorporated satnav, a £400 option (all prices exclude VAT) with Enterprise trim.
Exterior options on the model tested here comprised metallic paint (£350) and the Look Pack (£270), consisting of body-colour rear bumper, side rubbing strips, door handles and mirrors, which all come as standard on Driver trim.
A practical addition to X is hard-plastic floor protection in the load area, which is accessed by asymmetric rear doors opening to 180° and, on the longer-length van, twin sliding side doors.
A generous payload of 970kg combines with a load volume of 3.8m3, which increases to 4.4m3 with the passenger seat folded.
The XL feels nimble to drive around town and its turning circle of 11.4m compares favourably to the 12.2m of both the VW Caddy Maxi and Ford Transit Connect L2.
Ride quality is refined and the XL handles well in urban and extra-urban environments with good steering control combining with smooth gear changes, while the sixth cog is particularly welcome for motorway cruising where it helps to ensure interior noise does not become intrusive.
Citroen Berlingo XL 130 Enterprise S&S
Price (ex VAT) £20,350
Price range (ex VAT) £15,825-£22,970
Insurance group 35E
Service intervals 16,000mls
Load length 1,817mm
Load width (min/max) 1,243/1,550mm
Load bay height 1,250mm
Gross payload 970kg
Load volume 3.8m3
Engine size/power 1,560cc/130hp
Combined fuel economy 64.2mpg
Refined and practical with a good engine, the Citroen Berlingo XL stands comparison with the best in the sector.