The Citroën Berlingo was launched back in 1995 and voted Fleet News small van of the year for five years in succession.
There’s hardly a street in the UK that doesn’t contain at least one Berlingo, such has been its popularity over the past 21 years, and many of these are pretty old models – which says a lot about the van’s build quality.
There have been myriad facelifts and relaunches since then. But along the way, Citroën has stuck to its basic promises: good solid engineering, a reasonable level of standard spec and low running costs.
The Euro 6-compliant van on test here is basically the same as the old Euro 5 model apart from the fact that it is more fuel efficient, has lower CO2 emissions and now comes with an AdBlue tank that will have to be filled every so often. And of course all this comes at a price – this van is £585 more than the Euro 5 version. However, it has to be borne in mind that the extra front-end cost can be offset by the better fuel economy.
Over a 100,000-mile fleet life, the Euro 6 version will save £810 in fuel over the Euro 5, which adequately covers the initial extra cost. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions drop from 133g/km in the Euro 5 to just 111g/km.
It’s easy to see why the Berlingo has been such a success for Citroën over the years. The van is a classy looker and has a lot to recommend itself for business users, both in the front and rear. Priced at £14,730, excluding VAT, this LX variant sports a 1.6-litre 100hp diesel powerplant – plenty for business purposes – and a 625kg payload. Our van really looked the business, partly due to its £320 metallic paint job, which means that most fleets won’t order one like it. Also on the options list was air-conditioning at £600, a touchscreen audio pack at £400 and rear parking sensors at £200. These sensors are a necessity, and shouldn’t be an option.
This is one of the few vans in the sector to offer three seats and, although the middle one isn’t very big, it’s a useful addition for emergencies. The other two seats are big and comfortable and, despite the mesh bulkhead, there’s still plenty of legroom. Other little goodies include Citroën’s Teletrac sat-nav and stolen vehicle tracking system.
In the rear, there’s a useful 3.3 cubic metres of space, accessed via two rear barn doors or a standard side sliding door, and half-height panels come as standard to protect the van from those dreaded dings. There are also six load-lashing eyes to keep things in place.
On the road, the Berlingo is as impressive as ever, with super-slick gearchanges and nice taut handling.
The Euro 6 engines have certainly pushed the envelope as far as fuel economy and emissions are concerned. The extra cost of the van is worth paying to get such benefits.