The Berlingo’s cargo area does not look as pristine as it did when the van first arrived, now that it is laden with 10 37kg bags of grey 20mm Hereford gravel. Bags of gravel are usually wet and a bit gritty and one of mine partially split, scattering some of its contents across the cargo bed.
Bitterly cold winter weather caused the bags to freeze together in a single amorphous mass, which meant I was unable to distribute them more evenly across the floor until the temperature rose. The low temperature caused the locking fuel cap to freeze to the van too.
The bags were easy enough to put onboard, however, thanks to a low loading height courtesy of front-wheel drive and a sliding nearside door, as well as twin rear doors.
The full-height steel bulkhead should ensure that the cab’s occupants don’t end up being thumped by the heavy bags should they shift forwards under heavy braking.
I haven’t lashed them down despite the presence of six load tie-down points in the 3.3m3 cargo box. Wet bags always seem to slide out from under any restraint straps that are applied to them.
Eventually destined to be spread across my drive, the gravel was put into place so I could see how the Berlingo behaves with a bit of weight onboard; in this case more than half the quoted gross payload. It has an effect, but the impact of the 370kg burden is not enormous.
It does mean that I’m marginally slower away from rest and some of the Forest of Dean’s steeper gradients have to be tackled using one gear lower than the gear I would usually attempt them in when the van is empty.
Motorway inclines have to be addressed in the same way, although the momentum I’ve generally built up before I reach them carries me up all but the most demanding examples.
Does running more than half-laden make any difference to journey times? Not really – all you have to do to maintain them is occasionally work a
bit harder with the gearbox than usual.
Fortunately the gearbox has an acceptable quality of change – smooth enough, though not as smooth as what is on offer from some of the Fords I’ve encountered over the years – so the task is not all that onerous.
Does having some weight onboard increase fuel consumption? Logic suggests that it should, but so far the impact does not appear to be enormous. Fuel consumption would doubtless improve considerably if the Berlingo had got a six-speed rather than a five-speed manual box; but that’s another story.
I’ve yet to get used to the electronic parking brake – what’s wrong with an old-fashioned handbrake lever? – but I’ve settled down nicely into the comfortable driver’s seat. It is height-adjustable and comes with lumbar adjustment; just what you need if you’ve got a long motorway journey to tackle and you know you’re going to be behind the wheel for a while.
Complete with steering wheel-mounted controls, the good-quality DAB radio makes it easy for me to indulge in my favourite morning activity – shouting at BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. I know the presenters can’t hear me. It just makes me feel better.
Report card: Cab = 4/5
Comfortable working environment.
Citroen Berlingo Enterprise BlueHDi 75
Official combined fuel economy 51.4mpg (WLTP)
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)