Citroen Berlingo Review
Chic styling helps to disguise the van roots of the Citroen Berlingo, but it remains supremely practical
Strengths & weaknesses
Citroen Berlingo prices from £11,250 Finance from £263.11 per month
Citroen might not have invented the Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), but the release of the original Berlingo around 20 years ago certainly helped establish the body style as a firm favourite among practicality-loving parents.
The model shifted a shedload in its lifetime but customer tastes have now changes, while the rising popularity in Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) means even the least fussy families are looking for sharp exterior styling and a more engaging drive.
Unfortunately, previous Berlingos haven't been the most beautiful objects to behold and their commercial vehicle underpinnings have barely been adapted for use by those with children to deliver to schools, rather than goods hauled in transit.
Thankfully, the latest generation has received a major overhaul and now sports the sort of shapely exterior styling that is found across the modern Citroen range, so that means cool double-stacked headlamps at the front, blistered wheel arches, funky protective 'air bumps' along the flanks and the opportunity to specify XL rims and metallic bash plates for a more rugged look.
The new Berlingo shares much of its moving parts with the all new Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life, which means choosing between the triptych of family-friendly transportation is chiefly down to styling and price.
While Vauxhall is arguably the most basic to behold, it boasts a slightly more engaging drive than the Parisien pair, and the Rifter is marketed at those with a penchant for extreme sports and gear-heavy leisure activities.
As a result, it's not quite as well specified for daily family life, as the Peugeot packs a phenomenal 186-litres of interior storage, which is made up of numerous cubby holes and stash boxes that litter the cabin.
On top of this, Citroen offers what it calls a 'Modutop' optional extra, which consists of a transparent overhead locker that begins in the boot and extends through the centre of the cabin.
It is clever touches like this that make the Berlingo so appealing, while seemingly every domestic scenario is thought of and catered for. Access to the rear is via two large sliding side doors, the backseats get fold-down tables and both front occupants receive comfortable armrests.
The fact that Berlingo shares most of its underpinnings with the Vauxhall and Peugeot models means PSA, the company that owns all three brands, has been able to invest time and money to get things right.
Although the driving experience isn't exactly exciting, it is comfortable and quiet, with ultra-light steering and an impressively short turning circle making it easy to manoeuvre.
It used to be glaringly obvious that Berlingo was based upon a van, but despite a lofty driving position, those hopping behind the wheel now will find it difficult to tell apart
Plus, the addition of Citroen's excellent PureTech petrol engines and BlueHDi diesel units ensures performance is perfectly suitable, while fuel economy and emissions make motoring easier on the wallet.
That said, a greater choice of petrol engines, as well as some hybrid options, would help bolster the line-up.
- 1996 Original Citroen Berlingo is launched
- 2004 The front end recieves a facelift and updates to the headlights and grille designs.
- 2008 Second generation Citroen Berlingo is launched
- 2013 First electric version of the Citroen Berlingo arrives on sale
- 2018 Latest third generation Citroen Berlingo is released to the public
- 2021 Electric e-Berlingo is launched with 50kWh battery and 174-mile range, in two trim levels and two wheelbase lengths
Understanding Citroen Berlingo names
Engine PureTech 75
The Citroen Berlingo is available with a choice of two engines. The petrol is referred to as PureTech while the diesel is known as BlueHDi. The number that accompanies the engine name refers to the amount of power it produces. The PureTech 75 will have 75 horsepower on offer.
Trim Feel S&S
There are three trim options available with the new Citroen Berlingo. Feel trim is the most basic level, followed by Flair and then finally Flair XTR topping the range. Prices and equipment levels will rise with each jump up the ladder you take. The S&S addition means this particular model features Citroen's stop and start technology.
Gearbox 6-speed manual
You can get the Citroen Berlingo with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes. The 75 and 100hp diesel models come with a 5-speed manual, PureTech 110 and BlueHDi 130 models come with the 6-speed manual, while the PureTech 130 and BlueHDi 130 are also available with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Citroen Berlingo Engines
Petrol: Puretech 110 Diesel: BlueHDi 75, BlueHDi 100, BlueHDi 130
The Berlingo line-up is fairly simple, a single 1.2-litre petrol unit badged Puretech 110 that produces - you guessed it - 110hp, and a single 1.5-litre diesel engine badged BlueHDi available with a choice of three power outputs.
Opting for the BlueHDi 75, which is only available in the most basic Feel models, may seem enticing due to the low purchase price, but with just 75hp on tap, it feels a bit gutless for a vehicle of this size.
Load it up with passengers and kit and it suddenly feels very underpowered, meaning it's a much better idea to test-drive the Blue HDi 100 and BlueHDi 130 versions of the same engine.
Fuel economy remains mightily impressive (65.7mpg, compared to 68.9mpg) and CO2 emissions for the entry-level diesel engine are only marginally reduced, which equates to a cost saving of £20 in the first year of taxing and doesn't seem worth the lack of punch.
It is a similar story for the petrol engine, which is a shame because it is superbly quiet and refined, but just lacks the low down torque for hasty acceleration and swift overtaking.
The gear change is smooth with the six-speed manual 'box, even though the clutch biting point feels particularly high (a common occurrence in Citroens), but the eight-speed automatic box is by far the best choice for those who want an easy, effortless drive.
Citroen never intended the Berlingo to be a performance machine, so 130hp is the maximum output available here, but all of the engines in the range are incredibly smooth and quiet, which is arguably one of the most important factors when considering new family wheels.
Citroen Berlingo Trims
Citroen knows the car-buying experience can be overly complicated for time-strapped families, so it offers just two trim levels that can widely be described as 'basic but well equipped' and 'generously finished with mod cons'.
Feel trim falls into the former camp and features things like pop-out windows in the rear (not great if the kids suffer from car sickness), 16-inch steel wheels and a cloth interior that's functional, if not the prettiest to look at.
But the scrimping on visual niceties means these Feel vehicles come well appointed with safety features, such as Hill start Assist, Cruise Control, Active Lane Keeping Assistance, Speed limit recognition and recommendation and Active Safety Brake, while infotainment is taken care of by an eight-inch touch screen as standard that boasts Bluetooth, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Plus, all of the convenience factors that make the model so appealing (split folding rear seats and interior cubby holes, for example) are standard features across the range, so it's guaranteed you will get a practical set of wheels no matter how much you spend.
Of course, it's highly likely most owners will want to part with a little more and step up to Flair models, which feature alloy wheels, Citroen Connect navigation, an electric parking brake, electric rear windows, LED daytime running lights and voice recognition technology for the infotainment system.
It's also worth looking at the bundled options packs that are available and include some very handy features, such as the additional child rear view mirror and blinds on rear side windows (£300), the aforementioned Modutop Roof (£750), a smartphone wireless charging plate (£100), the numerous parking sensor and camera packs, as well as a number of styling kits that add cool interior fabrics, larger wheels and additional exterior features.
Most of these packs are reasonable ways of bundling some additional niceties, which will not only make life with the car more pleasant, they also ensure the value of the vehicle remains high when it comes time to move it on.