Citroen's much improved third generation Berlingo remains one of the market's best selling compact vans, offering a usefully large payload capacity and a maximum load volume of up to 4.4m3. It's now smarter looking than before and gets some extra hi-tech, plus there's a fresh range of clean and frugal Euro6 BlueHDi diesel engines. The idea is to rejuvenate this model's buying proposition and on paper at least, the prospects are promising.
This time round, the Berlingo van sits on the PSA Group's more sophisticated, lighter 'EMP2' platform and uses an efficient set of diesel engines. There's the familiar 1.6-litre BlueHDi unit as before, offered in 75 or 100hp guises. More modern though, is the 1.5-litre BlueHDi powerplant, which comes if you're able to stretch up to a 130hp output. The top 130hp engine is offered with the option of EAT8 auto transmission.
Citroen reckons that this is the most comfort-orientated compact van you can buy, thanks to its 'Advanced Comfort programme' development. This is based around special cushioned seats, top-level acoustic treatment and special suspension settings designed to filter out bumps you'd really feel on rival models. Another clever touch is the 'Magic Wash' function that maintains visibility during window washing and halves the amount of liquid required. As before, a Grip Control option is available on some models to increase traction, incorporating hill-start assist. We like the new 'Flankguard' feature which informs the driver of the proximity of objects to the side of the manoeuvring vehicle by memorising the data recorded by sensors located in the front and rear bumpers, combined with the vehicle trajectory.
The design of the Berlingo has changed substantially since this model was first introduced in 1996 and changes again with this third generation model which gets a more expressive and distinctively Citroen front end with a short and high bonnet that borrows from the look we first saw used by the current larger Citroen Dispatch model. As before, there are two Berlingo body styles to consider and both are on the large side of what we expect from a compact van. The M version measures 4.40m long with a 2.78m wheelbase, while the longer XL version measures 4.75m long with a 2.97m wheelbase.
Inside, the cabin has been completely redesigned, with a more modern and less cluttered dashboard, a multi-function steering wheel and the option of a colour Head-up Display. Smarter materials are used across the fascia, the central console, the doors and the seats and the cabin features a hardwearing TPO floor covering that can be cleaned quickly and easily. As before, Citroen is offering its so-called 'Extenso Cab', which gives you a three-person front layout, with the central seat able to transform into a mobile office with a pivoting writing table. The set-up features a folding side passenger seat providing optimal load length and increasing load volume from 3.3m3 to 3.8m3 in size M, and 3.9m3 to 4.4m3 in size XL. As you'd expect in this class, a Crew van' body style is also available with a fold-out second row bench.
Van designs have long shelf lives but are intensively developed prior to their original launch, a process perfectly showcased by this much improved third generation Berlingo. It's a product usefully refreshed in almost every major area. The looks and the cabin are much more modern, as is the infotainment and safety provision. Plus, as before, you get very class-competitive payload and carriage capacity figures, plus there's the flexibility of the Extenso modular seating system and an unbeaten set of running costs if you opt for a BlueHDi engine. Add in a very comfortable ride and one of the widest choices of factory-built models in the class and you've a strong business proposition.
Strong enough to rejuvenate this Berlingo's buying proposition in this closely-fought market segment? Very possibly, providing Citroen can properly communicate everything this van has to offer to business buyers. Quite simply, it delivers more of what really matters.Click here to find out more about our Citroen Berlingo van range