The Citroen Berlingo may be getting a tad long in the tooth, but there is plenty of life in the old stager yet.
The Berlingo, and its twin the Peugeot Partner, holds the distinction of winning the Fleet News light van of the year title for six successive years and was only knocked off its perch last year by the new Ford Transit Connect.
In a bid to protect its market share, Citroen has invigorated the Berlingo by launching an Enterprise model which adds ABS?brakes and a CD player at no extra cost over the £10,195 ex-VAT price of the LX HDi.
And after spending a week with this admirable little performer, I was convinced that the Berlingo is far from finished.
For fleets, the van still has a convincing story to tell.
The Ford Transit Connect starts at £9,780 ex-VAT for the short wheelbase low roof model, but that van does not have a common rail diesel engine like the Berlingo.
The cheapest hi-tech engine variant weighs in at £9,950 – but you have to pay £400 for the safety brakes and £175 for a CD?player.
True, the Transit Connect looks beefier but it actually loses out on cubic capacity to the Berlingo by 0.2 cubic metres, although it beats Berlingo on payload by 25kg.
Outside, the Berlingo has already been treated to a mid-life facelift which gave it a more robust look, with massive plastic bumpers and large rubbing strips at the side for extra protection.
Unlike the new Volkswagen Caddy, sliding side doors come as an option at £235 for one or £400 for the pair. Our test van didn’t have any and to be fair, was none the worse for it.
Entry is by remote central locking, which also comes as standard, and the cab proves a pleasant place in which to spend a working day.
There is plenty of headroom, which gives the van a light, airy feel and seats are large and soft – a little too soft for my liking but others may disagree.
The height-adjustable steering wheel means all sizes of driver should be able to get comfortable – if I can, at 6ft 3in tall, then anyone can.
The electric windows are a welcome addition and while the left-hand side mirror adjusts electrically, the right one near the driver has to be operated manually.
The CD player is of reasonable quality.
An overhead storage shelf is handy for papers and sandwiches and there is an extra 12v power outlet in the centre console in addition to the cigarette lighter.
Another handy addition is the special passenger seat, which folds down to reveal a desk complete with two cup holders.
In the back, entry is by conventional doors but the rear windows do not have a wash/wipe facility, which I found annoying on several occasions during my test week.
Once inside, the floor is of the wipe-clean plastic variety and the six load-lashing eyes are conveniently placed in the walls rather than the floor, meaning loads can be slid in and out without hindrance.
Load volume is three cubic metres and payload is 600kg.
Our test van was powered by Citroen’s admirable 2.0-litre common-rail diesel unit, which offers a lusty 90bhp.
It really is a lively performer on the roads and for fleet purposes may be a little too lively.
The non-turbo 1.9-litre version is slower, cheaper at £9,445 ex-VAT and could be a better bet.
The Berlingo may be a tall vehicle but it seems to enjoy being thrown into corners and those ABS brakes should save a few knocks and bumps along the way.
The Berlingo is a terrific little van, even judged against the new contenders – well worth more than a second look when the time to buy new vehicles arrives.