Physical distancing is not an option if you need to squeeze three people into the Berlingo’s cabin.
A recent, mercifully short journey with two passengers in the Berlingo’s three-seater cab served only to underline what I have always believed. It’s not really a three-seater van at all.
The way in which the moulding that accommodates the gear stick bows outwards from the cab means that there is next to zero legroom for the middle traveller. As a consequence, whoever is unfortunate enough to occupy the centre perch ends up feeling cramped, and is sure to complain loudly.
My middle passenger certainly did, and at some length.
Nor is the lack of legroom the sole issue. Because the cab is too narrow for three seats, you end up literally rubbing shoulders with piggy in the middle.
The argument has been advanced that the centre seat is fine for children. Somehow, I still doubt it – and if you were to put a school-age child there then I suspect the lack of comfort would result in the all-too-familiar cry of ‘are we there yet?’
being uttered even more regularly than usual.
I would much rather see the centre seat removed and replaced by a large, lidded storage box.
Van cabs can never have too much space to stow all the paraphernalia that drivers end up carting around with them. This is even more important now that face coverings and hand gel are essential items drivers and passengers need to carry.
The centre seat does have one saving grace, however, and that’s the ability to fold down the back.
If you do so, then you’ll find that it turns into a handy desk that can be swivelled either towards the driver or towards the outboard passenger. This is ideal if you need to use a tablet or laptop to get some virtual paperwork done while you’re on the move.
As you’re tapping away in a lay-by somewhere you’ll probably be sipping a cup of richly deserved tea or coffee.
Now here’s a question I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer to – why are so many cup holders in vans too small to accommodate a good old British mug of PG Tips or Gold Blend?
The ones in the Berlingo are no exception, unfortunately.
Although they might be fine for a dinky little espresso cup, they are not quite large enough for a steaming sugar-laden mug of char you could stand a spoon up in.
Despite these complaints, I’m nonetheless a big fan of the Berlingo’s handling and its apparent frugality, and I’m grudgingly coming to terms with the absence of a sixth gear.
I am also getting used to the electric parking brake – and remembering to put my foot on the brake pedal before I try to release it.
Nor do I have too many complaints about the Citroen’s laden performance. With around 400kg in the back made up of a large quantity of bagged gravel I still haven’t got round to unloading, along with shovels, rakes and other bits and pieces, it’s having to work that bit harder, but my progress is not impeded all that much.
In-cab noise levels remain an issue, however, and were highlighted by a recent run down the M50.
The combination of road, wind and engine noise can be a real irritation for drivers, and mars what is otherwise a perfectly acceptable package.
Report card: Fuel economy = 4/5
Won't break the bank.
Citroen Berlingo Enterprise BlueHDi 75
Official combined fuel economy (WLTP) 51.4mpg
Our average consumption 46.3mpg
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)