Citroen's MPV offering is already strong in the two C4 Picasso models, but the Berlingo Multispace is pitched at a totally different customer, one that prioritises function over form.
In the Metal:
When viewed in the context of its true rivals like the Ford Tourneo Courier and Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life, as well as its own cousin, the Peugeot Partner Tepee, the Berlingo Multispace isn't all that offensive to look at. It's never easy to make something that shares much of its DNA with a light commercial vehicle look sexy. That said, the Citroen does have a softer image than the Peugeot. Looks though aren't so important in this segment; it's all about practicality.
In that vein, the Citroen performs very well indeed. The boot space measures in at a generous 675 litres, but can grow up to 3,000 litres when all the rear seats are folded down. In addition to this is an optional 'Modutop', a semi-open storage shelf-cum-bin that can accommodate 170 litres of internal space. The second and third row seats are of a modular design and, depending on specification, can be individually folded or even removed entirely. Doing so is a relatively easy task too, enabling you to change the Berlingo into a van when needed, though you'll still need somewhere to store the seats.
Up front, Citroen has tried to jazz up the cabin with some new fabric choices, while the range-topping model gets a seven-inch colour touchscreen system for the optional satellite navigation and media services. Like the rear, there are plenty of storage solutions in the front, including a deep bin between the seats. The driving position is fairly car-like, although the seats are lacking in lateral support and feel much more like you're sitting on rather than in them.
The Berlingo Multispace borrows its suspension from the C4 Picasso (LINK 4) and so rides the lumps and bumps quite well, though don't expect quite the same degree of refinement. At slower speeds and around town the Citroen gives little cause for complaint; the ride is good and steering is light to the touch, while the engine offers plenty of low-down shove.
Power comes from the PSA-developed Blue HDi 100 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. It produces a modest 98hp, but more usefully develops 254Nm of torque from 1,750rpm so you don't need to rev it too much to get it to perform. As four-cylinder diesel engines go, it isn't the most refined on the market but it goes well and complies with the Euro 6 emissions standards. Thanks in part to stop-start its CO2 output is 109g/km and there's a slightly lower official fuel consumption figure of 4.1 litres/100km.
Along with the image and fit-out of this new Berlingo, Citroen has worked at fine-tuning the on-board acoustics to make it quieter inside. The engine is enclosed in a sound-insulting jacket while more sound absorbent materials in the floor help to block out more road noise.
Citroen has added some new features to the Berlingo such as Active City Brake, which can mitigate the effect of collisions at speeds of up to 30km/h. It does this through short-range radar mounted at the top of the windscreen that detects vehicles or objects directly ahead. Naturally, it can't prevent all collisions but can certainly play a part in significantly reducing damage.
What you get for your Money:
Though Irish pricing and specifications have yet to be confirmed, we do know that many of the practical items come as standard on the Berlingo Multispace such as Hill Assist Start and Isofix points on all passenger seats. Buyers also get cruise control that includes a speed limiter function, which is useful for avoiding any potential speeding fines. The new seven-inch colour touchscreen and Active City Brake are likely to be optional extras on all but the top specification grade.
The styling updates to the Citroen Berlingo Multispace may be subtle but this is a car that is shaped more by functionality than form. As a compact MPV it delivers space and practical features and it's easy to manoeuvre around town while its updated engine and transmission feel up to the job.