New LCV review

Citroën Berlingo van review

Does the latest version of this mass-selling small van live up to its heritage?

Would you like to be kept up to date with the latest from The Car Expert?

Design
8.0
Comfort
7.0
Driving experience
8.0
Value for money
8.0
Safety
8.0

Summary

Citroën has done a good job with the third-generation Berlingo, which is a definite improvement on its mass-selling predecessor.

Summary

Citroën has done a good job with the third-generation Berlingo, which is a definite improvement on its mass-selling predecessor.

60-second summary

What is it?
The new Citroën Berlingo LCV is the third-generation of the brand’s car-sized van.

Key features
Good load space, wide diesel and petrol engine range, plenty of tech.

Our view
The third-generation version of the Citroën Berlingo van is a major update on its predecessor in all the important areas.

It offers a larger, more practical load capability, a wide range of refined engines, is easy to drive and can be specified with plenty of technology.

We can expect to see many a Berlingo earning its living on UK roads. 

Similar vans
Ford Transit Connect, Vauxhall Combo, Volkswagen Caddy


Full review

Introduction

Citroën never misses a chance to emphasise its heritage in compact vans – the original Berlingo launched back in 1996 and has since sold more than 1.5 million. And it in turn continued a heritage stretching back to the likes of the 2CV van.

All of which means that the latest, third-generation Berlingo has a lot to live up to. And it does, offering a lot of load space on a compact footprint, plenty of practical features and a host of technology, including some safety innovations.

The Berlingo is aimed at those businesses that need a van bigger than the small supermini-based models such as Citroën’s Nemo, but not a larger LCV like the all-encompassing Ford Transit Custom. It sits alongside the Berlingo car, a mini MPV, and as such benefits from the increasing technology that Citroën is gaining a reputation for in its passenger car range.

However, the Berlingo also sells in an increasingly competitive segment – not only does it face a challenge from its very closely related sisters the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, prime rivals also include Ford’s Transit Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy.     

Buying and owning a Citroën Berlingo

The Berlingo may share its chassis and its body with the Peugeot Partner and the Vauxhall Combo, but it presents a distinctive and pleasing appearance with significant influences from larger Citroën LCVs and the car line-up.

More importantly, it is built on the PSA Group’s latest EMP2 modular platform that permits some serious practicality gains over the previous Berlingo. Notably the load width is increased, allowing two Europallets to be accommodated in the rear, while payload ratings have gone up too, now ranging from 650kg to a tonne.

  • Citroën Berlingo review - front 1 | The Van Expert
  • Citroën Berlingo review - front 2 | The Van Expert
  • Citroën Berlingo review - rear 1 | The Van Expert
  • Citroën Berlingo review - rear 2 | The Van Expert

The Berlingo is offered in two lengths, the M variant measuring 4.4 metres overall and the XL 4.75 metres. The latter also has an extended wheelbase, growing from 2.78 to 2.97 metres.

There isn’t a bespoke high-roof model though the roof height does vary from 1.8 to 1.9 metres depending on which Berlingo one drives.

All this adds up to a load volume of 3.3 cubic metres in the M variant, 3.9 metres in the XL. But this isn’t the full story as useful little features that extend this – notably the Extensio cockpit, available in all but entry-level versions. This includes a through loading door and a lift-up passenger seat, liberating another 0.5 cubic metres of space and allowing the carrying of items up to 3.44 metres long.

It’s an easy van to load – the floor is low, another benefit of the modular platform, the rear doors (all metal or glazed versions both available) open to 180 degrees and the van can be specified with a sliding door on one of both sides.

Another major advance is in the technology, especially where safety is concerned. Citroën claims an industry-first with its overload indicator – get close to the van’s authorised weight limit and it will let you know. Talking of limits – the Berlingo offers a braked towing weight of 1,500kg.

Some 20 driver-assistance systems are available, the vast majority lifted directly from the passenger car range, such as autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and parking sensors.

Particularly impressive is Surround Rear Vision, the answer to the lack of a central rear-view mirror in an unglazed van.  It displays images from two cameras (mounted at the base of the passenger-side door mirror and at the top of the rear doors), on a five-inch colour screen located where the rear-view mirror would normally be.

The system acts as a reversing camera, a rear-view mirror and by pushing a button on the indicator stalk even displays the view on the passenger side of the Berlingo.

Be warned, however. Surround Rear Vision, like the vast majority of the driver-assistance features and other techno enhancements, are options list buys unless you go for higher-spec models.

Citroën markets the Berlingo van in four trim levels. The entry-level X and Worker models are pitched at construction firms and the like. Worker versions come with a ground clearance raised by 3cm, extra underbody engine protection and the Grip Control traction control system, which includes Hill Descent Assist. It also gets the largest payload capability and sits on larger wheels with mud and snow tyres.

General delivery users and those doing a lot of mileage will more likely go for the Enterpirse and Driver versions. Citroën says that the ride comfort of such models is targeted at long journeys, there is extra sound dampening, while the tech includes dual-zone air conditioning, seats with lumbar adjustment, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers.

Driver variants also include the cruise control, an electronic parking brake and that 8-inch colour touchscreen with navigation and DAB digital radio, as well as the Surround Rear Vision system.

Inside the Citroën Berlingo

In van form, the Berlingo comes with a choice of two distinct cabin layouts, though as mentioned most models will be fitted with the Extenso cab, which offers a three-seat format. As well as the folding left-hand seat to accommodate long loads, the middle one can transform into a mobile office format with a pivoting writing table.

  • Citroën Berlingo review - interior 1 | The Van Expert
  • Citroën Berlingo review - interior 2 | The Van Expert

This is a good thing because, particularly in the case of the manual variant that we tested, the central seat is precious little use as a seat. The problem is the gear cluster which juts out from the centre console, leaving the middle-seat occupant very little in the way of legroom.

Aside from that issue the Berlingo interior is very well put together, with quality standards again inherited from the latest car range. It’s nothing radical, and the large eight-inch infotainment screen does look somewhat plonked atop the centre console, but the fit and finish is up to scratch.

Driving the Citroën Berlingo

Engines in the Berlingo van will be familiar to anyone who has recently driven a Peugeot-Citroën product. Core will be the diesels, which range across 1.6-litre units of 75 and 100hp and the range-topping 1.5-litre unit with 130hp, and the option of replacing the six-speed manual transmission with an eight-speed auto unit.

Petrol variants are also available, these comprising 1.2-litre units, the 110hp version with manual transmission available now and the 130hp/auto combination on sale later in 2019.

The Van Expert spent a week with an Enterprise variant fitted with the 130hp diesel engine and manual transmission, during which we clocked up some extended journeys.

The Berlingo is a very easy van to drive – occasional van drivers more used to a car will find no disadvantage either in terms of ride comfort or handling. The steering is light to the touch, not offering a lot of feel when cornering at speed but more importantly ensuring that the the van is easy to manoeuvre in tighter environments.

Less than perfect road surfaces failed to trouble the Berlingo either, the well-sorted chassis smothering all but the very worst bumps – this is a van that a delivery driver will be easily able to spend a full day in without feeling fatigue.

Summary

Citroën has done a good job with the third-generation Berlingo, which is a definite improvement on its mass-selling predecessor. It offers advantages in all the important areas – larger, more practical load space, a wide range of refined engines, a van that is easy to drive and availability of plenty of technology.

As a result the new Berlingo should maintain the sales success of the outgoing model – expect to see many a commercial driver spending their working day in one. 

Good points

Practical load space
Ease of driving
Wide safety tech availability

Bad points

No legroom for middle seat
A lot of the safety tech on the options list

Make & model Citroën Berlingo LCV Ford Transit Connect Volkswagen Caddy
Specification XL 130 ENTERPRISE BlueHDi 130 Limited 240 L2 1.5 120hp EcoBlue C20 Maxi 1.4TSI 125hp BM Tech Trend
Price (rrp excl VAT) £20,805 – with options £21,825 £20,015 £18,275
Engine 1.5-litre diesel 1.5-litre diesel 1.4-litre petrol
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
Power 131 hp 120 hp 125 hp
Torque 300 Nm 270 Nm 220 Nm
0-62mph 10.0 sec Not stated Not stated
Top speed 110 mph Not stated 115 mph
Fuel economy (combined) 64.2 mpg 56.5 mpg 47.1 mpg
CO2 emissions 116 g/km 130 g/km 137 g/km
Load length 2.167 m 2.153 m 2.249m
Payload 970 kg (inc driver) 833 kg 729 kg
Euro NCAP rating 4 stars (2018) Not yet tested 4 stars (2015)
Design
8.0
Comfort
7.0
Driving experience
8.0
Value for money
8.0
Safety
8.0

Summary

Citroën has done a good job with the third-generation Berlingo, which is a definite improvement on its mass-selling predecessor.
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

Latest new car reviews

Ford Fiesta Sport Van test drive

The Ford Fiesta Sport Van might not be the most useful van on the market, but for its sheer car-like feel it deserves high praise.

Ford Ranger Raptor test drive

The Ford Ranger Raptor is one of the most accomplished pick-up trucks we’ve driven when it comes to outright, go-anywhere ability.

Citroën Berlingo van review

The third-generation version of the Citroën Berlingo van is a major update on its predecessor in all the important areas.

Volkswagen Caddy long-term test: Report #1

It’s a tough job, transporting video equipment and their operators. Is the Volkswagen Caddy up to the task? Zaak Andrews finds out