The Citroën Berlingo well and truly changed the face of small vans when it first appeared in the UK back in 1995.
It was the first small LCV to be built as a van from the nuts and bolts upwards, all the others at that time being van versions of cars such as the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra.
This meant new levels of robustness in the sector – a boast borne out by the fact that we still see thousands of old models on the roads today, bearing many scars of ill usage but still giving faithful service.
Back then, when our sister title Fleet News was still giving van awards and Commercial Fleet magazine had yet to be launched, the Berlingo won the light van of the year title for five years on the trot. Even now, it is Citroën’s best-selling commercial vehicle.
Much has changed between then and now. The Berlingo has been treated to a series of relaunches and other nips and tucks so that in 2015 it still proves a match for rivals such as the Fiat Doblo Cargo and the Ford Transit Connect.
General ride and handling characteristics now would have been undreamed off back in 1995, while there are a host of technological and safety improvements – plus of course that ubiquitous free Teletrac sat-nav and stolen tracking device that comes with just about all Citroën vans nowadays.
And it’s not one of those ‘cheapies’ you can buy at Halfords either. Drivers can even talk direct through the unit to a Teletrac operator in Oxfordshire who will impart all sorts of vital information that vans drivers need – such as the location of the nearest Indian takeaway.
The model on test here is the latest incarnation which went on sale in July and offers a spruced up front end, new levels of cab comfort, a fresh dashboard and an alarm and cruise control as standard.
Priced at a basic £14,395 ex-VAT, our test vehicle also had a ‘Look’ pack at £240, which adds colour-coded bumpers. While it gives the van a smart appearance, it’s unlikely that fleet buyers will go for it, as any knocks will cost more to repair than standard black plastic bumpers.
This Enterprise variant is the biggest selling one in the Berlingo range and while Euro 6 engines are gradually being rolled out prior to the cut-off date of September 2016, our van still had the Euro 5 powerplant offering 75bhp. Its credentials are still worthy, though, with 56mpg on offer on the combined cycle and a CO2 figure of 131g/km.
In the cab the dash now features a central control screen which, depending on the model chosen, will display everything from radio stations to a reversing camera.
Our van had the three-seat option, which provides a ‘dicky’ seat in the middle but sadly there was only a mesh bulkhead for the driver’s seat, leaving the passengers unprotected if any cargo flies forward.
There are certainly no complaints about the Berlingo’s road manners. This van is as smooth and quiet underway as a car, even without the presence of a full bulkhead.