First drive: Mercedes-Benz Citan



The engines are basically Renault ones – nothing wrong with that as they are all rock solid performers – but the engineers at Mercedes-Benz have made minor tweaks to make them more responsive and to offer better fuel consumption.

There have also been major changes to the suspension set-up to make the van better in the ride and handling department.

Diesel engines are all 1.5-litre units offering 75bhp, 90bhp and 110bhp, while the petrol engine is a 1.2-litre unit with 114bhp.

The two lower-powered ones only will be available at launch time. The higher-powered diesel unit and petrol engine will be available later in the year.

Mercedes-Benz claims its adjustments to the engine mean class-leading fuel economy figures of up to 65.7mpg on the combined cycle.

The three wheelbase models will offer from 2.4 cubic metres to 3.8 cu m and payloads of 490-810kg. There will also be a five-seat crew-cab version.

The Citan will also have 25,000 mile servicing intervals and a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, once again beating the opposition.

Thanks to the fact that Mercedes-Benz also sells big trucks, Citan buyers will be able to take advantage of 24/7 servicing – something that the others, apart from Iveco, can’t match.

Final spec and prices have yet to be announced but standard specification is expected to be high.

The Citan will come with Electronic Stability Control as standard, along with ABS and air-conditioning.

Behind the wheel

Being an old cynic with many years behind me in the industry, I raised more than one eyebrow when Mercedes-Benz announced that it had got into bed with Renault to produce this new van.

Merc has always prided itself on being a premium manufacturer and – being blunt about it – Renault is not in that league.

However, my doubts were well and truly vanquished at our first test drive in Copenhagen, where a range of different models was on offer to drive.

The Citan is a curious mix of Gallic chic and brutal Teutonic practicality and although the two might not at first appear to sit well together, the whole lot actually looks rather funky.

You certainly won’t mistake the Citan for a Renault with its massive three-pointed star on the front.

At the end of the day Bernd Stegmann is right – most fleet buyers aren’t bothered who originally made their vehicles. What they want is value for money, reliability, low running costs and good residual values.

And there is no reason to suppose that the Citan won’t offer all these things.

Climbing aboard, this van could just as well be a brand new model, with figure hugging and very supportive seats and a massive chunky dash that look as though it came from a 44-tonne Actros.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.