Citroen Berlingo review
The Berlingo keeps all of the things that made the previous model a great MPV – brilliant passenger and boot space, low running costs, great value – and improves on each even further. Crucially, it’s much better to drive than before and while it’s not quite as fun as most rival family cars, it’s refined and reasonably comfortable.
7 Feb, 2019
Keeping true to the Citroen brand, the Berlingo takes a slightly quirky approach to its styling. The external ‘airbump’ panels not only break up the vast metal panels along the side, but bring the added bonus of protecting the paintwork from car park dings. Feel models are equipped with wheel trims, while the Flair adds 16-inch alloy wheels, with 17-inch items optional. The double-decker headlights keep faithful to the current Citroen family look and colourful highlights add character to the boxy body that the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life arguably lack.
Like the outside, much of the trio’s cabins are shared with one another. That means there’s a large, raised dashboard which houses the gear lever (or rotary selector in automatic models), and a simple layout which prioritises ergonomics and storage space over style. The Berlingo gets traditional dials, unlike the Rifter, which places its dials above a small-diameter steering wheel.
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Design and build quality has taken a significant leap forward over the previous-generation Berlingo, though those used to the squidgy plastics and damped switches of more conventional cars might still find it a little agricultural. However, while the plastics are hard, they do feel sturdy.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Both Feel and Flair trims are equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The system itself looks smart enough, but some on-screen buttons are quite small and fiddly. Built-in navigation is only available with Flair, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard throughout the range. Smartphone functionality is improved further with an optional wireless charging plate. Sound quality from the six-speaker hi-fi is reasonable, but music-mad MPV/SUV buyers would be better served by the likes of the optional Canton system available in the Skoda Karoq.
Many other Citroen models integrate heating and climate controls into a touchscreen, but the Berlingo keeps physical buttons and switches which, in our opinion, are much easier and less distracting to use on the move.
The Berlingo’s platform is a mish-mash of PSA tech. The rear half is largely unchanged from the old model, allowing for a similarly huge load area, while the front is based on the Peugeot/Citroen EMP2 platform. This section has allowed Citroen to install the latest suite of safety tech and chassis refinements.
The result is that, for the most part, the Berlingo drives more like a car than a van. The steering is light, the turning circle is tight and, while the high centre of gravity makes itself felt during hard cornering, body roll is controlled well enough. There's decent grip and the brakes feel strong and reassuring.
The ride is smooth enough, though the harshest bumps vibrate around the cabin. There’s quite a lot of wind noise at motorway speeds – particularly around the bulky door mirrors.
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Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of a 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.5 diesel in one of three power outputs: 74bhp, 99bhp and 128bhp. The most powerful diesel offers up a useful 300nm of torque – handy when carrying a full complement of passengers and their luggage. The top-end diesel accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 115mph. The entry-level diesel will struggle under the same circumstances; this is reflected in its leisurely 16.5-second 0-62mph sprint.
Whichever fuel you go for, the Berlingo remains fairly smooth and refined; the petrol model is ideal for those who cover shorter distances, while the diesel is great for regular longer trips or towing duties. The petrol model’s 11.5-second 0-62mph time translates into decent real world performance, while the linear power delivery makes the Berlingo easy to control at low speeds.
Those looking for an automatic will have to go for the most powerful diesel; the gearbox is an eight-speed auto that’s a good match for the Berlingo’s relaxed nature. Elsewhere, the Berlingo is manual only, with either five or six speeds depending on model.
One of the main benefits of the Berlingo using the Citroen EMP2 platform up front is that it allows it to benefit from all of the PSA group’s latest safety tech. All Berlingos feature lane keep assistance, speed limit recognition and active emergency braking as standard, while the Flair is available with optional extras like driver attention monitoring, active cruise control, traffic sign recognition and a head-up display
The Berlingo scored four stars out of five when safety tested by Euro NCAP. Adult and Child occupant scores of 91 and 81 percent are both very impressive, but a star was lost due to a less favourable 58% score in the ‘vulnerable road users’ category. This was caused by solid areas around the base of the windscreen pillars, which could cause injury to pedestrians or cyclists in the event of a collision. NCAP found the emergency braking system to be less effective at higher speeds, but considered the lane keeping system – which can actively steer the car back on course if it drifts out of lane – to be very useful.
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There’s not too much to go buy in terms of reliability data so far, but past results haven’t shown Citroen in a particularly favourable light. In our 2018 Driver Power satisfaction survey, Citroen finished second from bottom – 25th out of 26. However, PSA cars based upon the EMP2 platform have fared brilliantly – the Peugeot 3008 SUV was ranked the best car of any to own in the last survey – so there’s a possibility that the Berlingo might be significantly easier to life with than its predecessor.
All new Citroen vehicles come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty. Also included is a 12 year anti-perforation warranty and three years’ cover for paint.
Equipped with Citroen’s more modest petrol and diesel engines, servicing costs for the Berlingo should be affordable. A servicing package allows buyers to pay in advance for three years/35,000 miles-worth of work.
Most MPVs are designed with practicality at the forefront, but few others (Rifter and Combo Life relatives aside) execute this thinking as well as the Berlingo. In every interior dimension, the Berlingo is huge: head, leg and shoulder room are vast, and there’s enough width to the second row that three child seats can be fitted across its width. The large sliding rear doors make it easy to get in, too.
Then there’s the storage space. A total of 28 cubbies offer up a whopping 186 litres of volume – similar to the entire boot of some city cars - and they’re topped off (literally) by a clever roof storage system. Citroen calls it Modutop, and it’s got an airline-style locker at the back, with a long, translucent shelf running ahead of it through the centre of the cabin. Paired with an panoramic glass roof, It’s available on the high end models.
The front overhang and bumper are shorter than on the old Berlingo, which improves forward visibility. Combined with the high driving position it means that drivers get a great view of the road ahead. Kids will enjoy the back seats, too; the huge areas of glass mean that it’s easy to see out.
The Berlingo M measures 4,403mm long, which makes it slightly shorter than a C4 SpaceTourer. The XL is 350mm longer, or roughly the same length as a compact executive saloon like an Audi A4.
Width and height are unchanged from the old Berlingo, and 2,107mm (including door mirrors) and 1,849mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
It doesn’t matter which of the five seats you find yourself in, there will be little to complain about when it comes to space. The high roofline makes headroom acceptable for the tallest top-hat fanciers, and legroom is just as generous.
Young families will like the fact that each second row seat gets ISOFIX mounting points – hidden behind zipped covers – as standard. The cabin is wide enough to accomodate three child seats together, too. Access is easy, thanks to huge sliding doors and a flat interior floor.
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XL models add a third row of seats. These aren’t quite as spacious, but passengers of average height or below will be happy enough. Access is possible from the second row, which can slide and fold forwards.
That impressive cabin space is backed up by a vast load area. The M model’s 775-litre boot equates to 100 litres more than the old Berlingo Multispace in standard guise, and the XL gets a faintly ridiculous 1,050 litres. Folding the seats takes a simple flick of levers in the boot or on the seats themselves, and all three individual chairs drop into the floor for a near-level load area, via levers in the boot if necessary. If fitted, the sixth and seventh seats are removable altogether.
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The front passenger seat folds flat and almost completely level with those behind which, according to Citroen, means the Berlingo M can take objects up to 2.7 metres long, and the XL 3.05-metres – enough for a whitewater kayak. The boot door is huge, which is great for loading but a pain in tight spaces, where the glass hatch that can open separately comes into its own. It’s an optional extra on Flair models.
Whether you pick a petrol or a diesel, the small PSA group engines tend to sip fuel at a lower rate than the majority of rivals. The pick of the range is the top-spec BlueHDi diesel with 128bhp; this returns 45.2mpg to 50.1mpg when equipped with a manual gearbox, or 45.1mpg to 50.3mpg with an automatic – both measured under the latest WLTP test. By extension, the different variants of the same 1.5-litre unit all achieve similar numbers.
The petrol models are less frugal, with the 1.2-litre turbocharged offerings returning 37mpg to 43mpg, which should enable a real-world range of up to 500 miles from its 61-litre fuel tank. Both petrol and diesel variants benefit from stop/start technology as standard, which helps to save fuel in heavy traffic.
CO2 figures (measured using WLTP regulations) range from 108g/km in the lowest-powered diesel model with a five-speed gearbox, rising to 131g/km in the highest-powered petrol model; these figures do not change if you opt for the long-wheelbase versions.
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VED rates are largely similar throughout the range, with every model bringing a first year charge of either £165 or £205. For company car users, the Benefit In Kind rates sit from 26 to 28.
As the Berlingo offers little in the way of sporty intent, insurance costs should prove to be modest throughout the line-up. Group ratings start from 8 in the most basic 74bhp diesel, and climb to 14 for the most powerful BlueHDi model. This is on par with other van-based rivals, and much lower than Citroen’s more traditional MPV offering, the C4 SpaceTourer, which starts from group 18.
Low showroom prices mean that the Berlingo makes plenty of sense to family buyers on a budget. The mix of low costs and high appeal should translate into fairly competitive used values, too. Rival offerings like the Volkswagen Caddy Life are likely to hold onto more value – and conventional family crossovers and SUVs more still – but depreciation shouldn’t be disastrous. Expect your Berlingo to have lost around 30-38% of its value after three years and 36,000 miles come trade-in time.