Some vans that look stylish in short wheelbase format suddenly take on hideous proportions when turned into long wheelbase high roof versions.
But if anything, the chic Citroën Dispatch actually looks even more graceful when blown up to its full size, as can be seen with the van on test here.
When the new Disptach was launched last year, it offered the extra space for the first time (the old model was only available in SWB format) and this variant plugs the gap that used to exist between it and the larger Relay.
Load volume, for example, is a handy 7.0 cubic metres, which is only a tad under that offered by the smallest Relay, and load length extends to 2,584mm, which is close on nine feet in ‘old money’.
Gross vehicle weight is 2,963kg, or almost three tonnes, while payload is 1,188kg – all dimensions that the old Dispatch couldn’t hope to offer.
Things have changed under the bonnet too, so that 90bhp, 120bhp or 136bhp are on offer, the lowest power with a 1.6HDi engine while the higher two have the 2.0HDi powerplant.
The top two offerings are mated to a six-speed gearbox while the smallest engine has five cogs.
The Dispatch is basically the same vehicle as the Peugeot Expert, but Citroën offers as standard a Smartnav sat-nav unit which links up to the Trafficmaster system and also doubles up as a stolen vehicle tracking device.
The price of the model on test is £16,420 ex-VAT.
Behind the wheel
Since launch last year, the new Dispatch, which is a quantum leap ahead of the old one, has been making quite a name for itself.
It was, for example, voted International Van of the Year 2008 and has been gaining various other plaudits in the UK.
As stated earlier, I just love the looks of this van, despite the fact that it’s swathed in plastic at the bottom to avoid annoying knocks and scrapes.
It’s not a big climb up into the cab, a fact Citroën points out is a plus point if your drivers are making hundreds of drops each day.
And once inside, there are plenty of natty little ideas to keep the busy driver happy, including a fold-down desk, coffee cup holders in all the right places and overhead lockers on each side.
On the downside, however, the cab in general isn’t as big as some of the rivals, so things can get a bit cramped for the middle passenger.
The rear end features twin sliding doors which can prove quite handy at loading time, and there is even a reasonable sized light in the load bay, unlike in some vans we’ve tested recently.
Under way, the 120bhp on offer is plenty for fleet purposes, so operators need not even consider the higher-powered 136bhp variant.
I’ve never been a fan of six-speed boxes, though, and I found myself making block changes on most occasions, which rather makes the extra cog redundant.
ABS brakes come as standard but it’s a shame Citroën didn’t make traction control standard too, as is offered on the rival Mercedes-Benz Vito and Volkswagen Transporter.
I didn’t carry any heavy loads on my test week but the predicted fuel economy figure of 39.2mpg proved just about bang on.
Good looks, comfortable seats, plenty of power and not too expensive.
This Dispatch seems to tick all the right fleet boxes.