The third-generation Citroen Berlingo (formerly Berlingo Multispace) arrives with a sharper look, two body sizes, a choice of five or seven seats and a modular interior with a slew of space. If you need a versatile car for your active family it is one of the better van-cum-cars on the market.
In the Metal:
Due to the boxy shape of the Citroen Berlingo, the design was never going to be thrilling, but the bold styling of the Berlingo does make it stand out from its rivals, in a good way. The new look uses the same design language that can be seen on the C3, C3 Aircross, C4 Cactus and C4 Grand Picasso, including striking double-decker lights, a black A-pillar and those distinctive 'Airbumps'. There is also a more forward-set windscreen allied to a higher and shorter front end. Buyers can customise the exterior with a variety of paint colours, styling packs, wheel designs and optional extras, such as roof rails.
The large sliding side doors make getting in and out of the vehicle a doddle and are great for tight car parking spaces. Around the back, the rear window opens for handy access to the boot, which again is great in tight spaces, and when you do open the back door fully, there is a wide boot with a low loading lip and buckets of room for all your luggage, shopping, sports equipment and kitchen sinks.
The cabin is filled with luxurious touches and comforts making it feel more like a spacious hatch rather than a van-based car. There is a big, glossy eight-inch touch screen, bright upholstery, touches of leather mixed in with more durable materials and big glass roof panels bathing the cabin in light, lending a lovely warmth to the space. The cabin feels immediately spacious, helped by the 28 different cubbyholes that keep the cabin neat and tidy and provide an additional 186 litres of storage.
Three individual seats in the rear can be removed giving you a perfectly flat floor and loading bed and, combined with the folding front passenger seat, you can load items up to 2.7 metres in length in the M version - or 3.05 metres in the XL model.
Citroen's Berlingo uses the 'EMP2' platform at the front of the vehicle. This is a same platform as found in the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 and the Citroen C4 Cactus. It retains its old 'RG5' platform for the rear, however, which allows for the extra load volume. Out on the road, this translates to improving manoeuvrability; however, this is a van-based car, so it is never going to handle as well as a regular car and in the corners there is some body lean, but not as much as you would expect from a tall vehicle like this. There is a decent amount of grip too, plus the option of Grip Control to cover driving on various surfaces.
The 110hp 1.2-litre petrol unit is a perky, flexible engine and is quiet and smooth. It has a decent bit of mid-range torque too and pulls well from low revs, while the six-speed manual gearbox is well suited to it, although the change can feel a little clunky at times. However, if you are going to be regularly carrying a load of passengers and cargo you may be better opting for the smooth and surprisingly refined 130hp diesel model, which has a bit more grunt. It also comes with the new eight-speed automatic transmission, which is slick, quick and smooth in operation.
Citroen has done a great job in terms of refinement and comfort. The Berlingo is quiet and smooth and copes brilliantly with bumps and rougher road surfaces thanks to a soft suspension setup. Wind, road and engine sounds are kept at bay except for some noise around the large door mirrors at higher speeds. Visibility is great all around, though the A-pillars are a little chunky, but the large side windows make up for any blind spots these may cause. The driving position allows a commanding view of the road and with all the space and seat and steering column adjustment even the shortest and tallest of drivers should be able to find a comfortable and safe driving position.
The steering feels accurate and isn't overly light, yet it is still an easy vehicle to manoeuvre. Reversing is a doddle thanks to those large mirrors, windows and flat rear end. There really is no need for the optional reversing camera, although it is a good parking aid.
Overall, Citroen has gone to great lengths to make the Berlingo feel like a big, spacious and comfortable car and it has worked.
What you get for your Money:
Engine line-up and prices are yet to be confirmed for Ireland, but the new Citroen Berlingo will be offered in both the 'M' smaller sized model and 'XL' lager model and both will be available with five or seven seats.
The PureTech petrol range features the 110hp unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and a 130hp option mated to an eight-speed automatic. The BlueHDi diesel range includes the 75hp unit with a manual gearbox, the 100hp unit also mated to a manual and the 130hp engine mated to a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. A PureTech 130hp with automatic gearbox will be available from the second half of 2019.
Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels and a safety pack with Active Lane Departure Warning, Speed limit recognition and recommendation and Active Safety Brake. The three rear seats all feature ISOFIX fittings and all fold individually. There's also a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manual air conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen with Mirror Screen for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, Bluetooth and DAB Radio, along with USB and 12V sockets.
The new Citroen Berlingo is a multi-faceted vehicle and a smart buy for families with active lifestyles who need space as well as practicality without sacrificing too much style or comfort.