The Citroen Berlingo's practical capabilities, quirky looks, reliability and low running costs have combined to make a winning formula for almost a quarter of a century. The UK's ninth bestselling van last year, and eighth so far this year, it's packed with technology and safety equipment – and full of personality.
More than 1.5 million first and second-generation Berlingos were built between 1996 and 2018, when it entered its third generation along with its identical triplets, the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo. The trio subsequently shared both this year's International Van of the Year award and What Van?’s light commercial vehicle of the year award; Jarlath Sweeney, chairman of the International Van of the Year panel, described them as “the most significant small panel van development in years”. The Berlingo also won best small trades van in Business Vans' 2019 Business Van Awards. while the electric version was named best green van.
Let's take a look at five reasons why the Berlingo has won so many accolades.
The Berlingo is large for a compact panel van, and available in two lengths, with a flexible cargo area that can carry a payload of up to 3.8 cubic metres or 1,009kg. The load bay in the larger version is 2.2m long and 1.6m wide, while even the smaller van can carry two euro pallets. The Berlingo can also tow up to 1,200kg.
Both front doors open wide, and the back doors open to 180 degrees for easy loading and unloading. Standard-length versions come with a sliding passenger-side door; long versions have one on the driver's side too. There are six tie-down points and a full bulkhead to keep cargo secure, and all versions bar the entry-level X trim come with a protective load cover.
The Berlingo is also available as a five-seater crew van, a platform cab and the seven-seater Berlingo Multispace MPV. The second row of seats in the crew van can be folded down and, along with the front passenger seat and the mesh bulkhead (which locks in place), moved if you want more load space.
The cabin is spacious, with good visibility and a plethora of storage, including an overhead shelf and door pockets large enough to hold 1.5-litre bottles of water. The steering column is height and reach-adjustable on all models, and the driver's seat is height, lumbar, rake and reach-adjustable on all but the base model, so you should have no trouble finding a comfortable driving position.
The base model comes with a single passenger seat, but all other versions have a double passenger bench seat which can fold down and be used as a desk. With this setup, you also get a load-through hatch in the bulkhead, allowing you to carry items up to 3.4m long in the larger vans, and storage under both the central passenger and driver's seats. It also gives you an extra 0.6 cubic metres of load space.
A DAB radio with Bluetooth, USB and aux connectivity is standard; Enterprise trim adds steering wheel-mounted controls, so you can operate the system without taking your hands off the wheel, and an eight-inch touchscreen offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
The Berlingo is enjoyable to drive – quiet, smooth and as manageable as a car thanks to its small size. Acceleration is swift, the power steering is accurate and quick, making manoeuvring easy, and the brakes are effective. Even long journeys are comfortable thanks to supportive seats and an absorbent suspension which smooths out rough roads.
There are two engine options: a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol and a 1.5-litre four-cylinder Euro 6 turbodiesel; the latter delivers up to 129bhp, 221lb ft of torque and a 0-62mph time of as little as 10 seconds.
Fuel economy gets up to 52.3mpg under new WLTP figures, and some engines have start-stop technology to increase efficiency.Carbon dioxide pollution across the range is between 112g/km and 117g/km, and the diesel engines use AdBlue to convert nitrogen oxide into harmless water and nitrogen. There's also the electric option, which has a range of up to 106 miles and can carry a payload of up to 636kg.
The Berlingo is available in four trims: X, Enterprise, Worker and Driver. X trim comes with electric front windows, a 12-volt socket in the cabin, electric mirrors and automatic headlights; Enterprise adds air conditioning, rear parking sensors and front cornering fog lights, while Driver gets a more comfortable driver's seat, automatic wipers and passenger-side and rear parking cameras.
Worker trim, which is designed for use on building sites, is 3cm higher off the ground and comes with underbody protection, Michelin mud and snow tyres, four extra load-securing rings and a 220-volt socket.
The Berlingo achieved a four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested last year, and standard features across the range include electronic stability control, hill start assist, ABS and a driver's airbag. Worker versions get an overload indicator, which tells you if you're trying to carry too much cargo, hill descent control and an advanced traction control system with sand, mud and snow modes.
If you'd like to test drive one of the used Citroen vans for sale at Vanwise Group, just give us a call – at our Essex dealership on 01279 216163, or our Kent dealership on 01622 233151. As well as the Berlingo, you might want to try out the versatile, spacious used Citroen Dispatchor the huge, popular used Citroen Relay. Ask about our vans on financeand van contract hire deals too.