Steve Banner just surrendered the keys to the long-term test Citroen Berlingo after more than 2,600 miles, but he would have recorded more if the pandemic hadn’t imposed constraints on travel.
Despite restrictions on travel, the distance I covered in the Berlingo gave me plenty of insight into the van’s advantages and drawbacks; and on balance the story is a positive one.
For a kick-off I have no quarrels at all with the Berlingo’s handling, its ride or the quality of the five-speed manual box’s gear change. All are more than acceptable, and the lack of a sixth gear did not turn out to be quite the drawback that I expected it to be on intercity motorway runs.
Nor does the Citroen fall short on performance. I ran it more than half-laden for several weeks, and the impact on acceleration and its hill-climbing ability was only marginal.
By the time the van departed it was averaging a respectable 50mpg, which meant it was edging ever closer to the official combined consumption figure. A few more weeks and it probably would have surpassed it.
The build quality was fine. Nothing creaked, groaned or rattled.
Any negatives? The key one is in-cab noise levels. They are too high – road noise is a particular concern – and my Berlingo was in sore need of extra sound insulation.
It’s fitted to top-of-the-range Driver models, so why not make it standard across the range? It seems a little cheese-paring to confine it to just one of the derivatives.
Equipment levels were acceptable – the Enterprise package includes air conditioning and electric folding mirrors – but I would have welcomed the presence of satellite navigation. You can always resort to your smartphone in its absence but the screen isn’t big enough, so I went back to sticking a Garmin on the windscreen instead.
Eventually I got used to the electronic parking brake. As a traditionalist, however, I still prefer the reassuring presence of a handbrake lever.
A low cargo bed height thanks to front-wheel drive and access from the nearside and rear meant the Citroen was easy to load and unload. I made use of the load-through facility on a couple of occasions; it allows you to slide items that would otherwise be too long for the cargo bed into the cab – and it worked fine.
Height adjustable, as is the steering wheel, and featuring lumbar adjustment, the comfortable driver’s seat turned out to be a boon on long journeys. However I remain as unconvinced by Berlingo’s three-seater configuration as I was when I first encountered it.
Legroom for the middle passenger is poor to non-existent, unless you happen to be a garden gnome.
Overall, though, the Berlingo is a sturdy, unfussy middle-of-the-road workhorse likely to prove ideal for a wide cross-section of fleets and small to medium-size business users. It’s unlikely to inspire you – but it shouldn’t disappoint you either.
Safety = 3/5
The basics are there and cruise control with a variable speed limiter is included in the deal, but you will need to pay extra for an all-embracing package.
Options list = 3/5
I’d rather have picked satnav than a special paint finish from what turned out to be a sensible selection of extras.
Driving = 4/5
Both the handling and ride are more than acceptable, so is fuel economy and there is no shortage of performance. In-cab noise levels are too high though.
Load bay = 4/5
Easy to access and with a low cargo bed, it ticks all the boxes. Load-through facility can be invaluable if you need to carry extra-long items.
Cabin = 3/5
Offers a comfortable driving position, a lot of equipment and plenty of storage space, but the cramped middle passenger seat seems a mite pointless.
Build quality = 4/5
Sturdily constructed, with no squeaking or rattling. Looks built to last.
Overall score = 70%
Citroen Berlingo Enterprise BlueHDi 75
Official combined fuel economy (WLTP) 51.4mpg
Our average consumption 50mpg
Price (ex VAT) £19,035
Service intervals 2yrs/25,000mls
Load length 1,817mm
Load width (min/max) 1,229mm/1,550mm
Load bay height 1,236mm
Load volume 3.3m3
Gross payload 680kg
Engine size/power 1,499cc/76hp
CO2 142g/km (WLTP)