Citroen Dispatch Combi MPV (2007 – ) expert review

By Jack Carfrae, 6th October 2009

The verdict

Height-adjustable suspension and the ability to seat nine make the Citroen Dispatch Combi a practical and comfortable workhorse.

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Expert rating:

3.4

Pros

  • Comfort thanks to adjustable suspension
  • Ability to seat nine
  • Practical sliding doors on both sides

Cons

  • A bit cumbersome
  • Wind noise is quite intrusive
  • Removing rear seats is a strenuous job

Full Review

1. Exterior

Take one look at the Citroen Dispatch Combi and you’re left in no doubt that it’s simply a van with lots of seats instead of a load bay. It’s very large indeed. The steeply raked windscreen and big, overhanging front bumper hint at Citroen’s links with Fiat and Peugeot. With that in mind, the Combi is a lot more distinctive-looking than something like a Ford Transit. It won’t turn heads but if viewed it for what it is – a van with seats – then there’s nothing wrong with it.

Our rating: 3

2. Interior

It’s the same deal inside. Because the big Citroen is really a van, it’s unfair to expect it to be as driver-orientated as most cars are. Everything is quite functional inside and where more car-like rivals benefit from soft-touch plastics and luxuries, the Combi should be tough thanks to durable materials. It isn’t going to win any design awards, but if you need to transport a lot of people with space to spare then the Citroen will certainly do the trick.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

This is the Citroen’s trump card. With seating for nine, it can accommodate more passengers than any rival MPV on the market. Sliding doors on both sides make access to the rear of the car extremely easy, even in tight parking spaces. The adjustable suspension system allows the van to be lowered and raised when necessary, so it’s very handy for getting wheelchairs in and out and transporting heavy loads of large proportions. The individual seats in the back can be folded or removed completely depending on how much space is needed.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

One of the French company’s trademarks is its pneumatic suspension system. It makes the ride incredibly comfortable and soaks up bumps really rather well. As for the handling, the Combi is obviously at a disadvantage because it is quite far removed from a car, so it’s never going to be as good to drive as, say, a Ford S-Max. However, it isn’t bad to drive as vans go and the steering is reasonably accurate, while there’s less body roll than you’d expect from a vehicle of its size.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

The Combi with the 136 HDi diesel engine is certainly the best of the bunch. It has 134bhp, which gives it the edge over the other models in the Dispatch Combi range with 118bhp. Admittedly it’s not exactly quick, but it certainly has more punch than the other engine options. The 136 HDi engine also has more mid-range pulling power than the other 2.0-litre HDi engines, which makes it more adept at carrying lots of passengers.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

The Citroen’s extra bulk means that fuel economy isn’t too good, so it’s never really going to stack up against established rivals like the Ford Galaxy in this area. It could be worse though, as the Combi with the 136 HDi engine returns 38.7mpg on average, which is respectable for such a large vehicle. Emissions of 194g/km put it in a high tax band and, if you’re feeling green, the Combi can also run on 30 percent bio-diesel fuel.

Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

Citroen’s reputation for reliability is hit and miss – sometimes its cars fare well and sometimes they don’t. The Combi didn’t appear in the 2010 JD Power Satisfaction Survey, but Citroen as a whole finished in 18th place, which is close to   the industry average. The clever suspension system can prove expensive to fix if it goes wrong, but other than that the Combi shouldn’t be too problematic, as it’s built for regularly carrying big loads and standing up to tough treatment.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

The Combi is bigger and bulkier than most other cars – and vans – on the road, which gives it an instant feeling of safety. It also has a full complement of safety systems including anti-lock brakes and stability control. Driver and passenger airbags are standard, while all the rear seats are protected by curtain airbags, which are integrated into the roof.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

The Citroen’s appeal lies in its practicality and its ability to seat nine people. Due to its functional nature, it isn’t brimming with equipment. However, it is built with passengers in mind, so there is an additional temperature control system in the rear, so passengers don’t have to wait for the hot or cold air to make its way to the rear of the vehicle. Colour-coded panels and more attractive trim are available on the more generous Leisure and Premium models.

Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

Anyone who doesn’t need the space or the seating capacity will struggle to find a case for the Combi. However, those with practicality at the very top of their list of priorities and anyone who needs to seat more than seven people will struggle to find better. Reasonable economy, a good ride and the clever suspension system all work in the Citroen’s favour. It’s certainly one of the most practical vehicles on sale.

Our rating: 3

Expert review 3.4stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance3
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability3
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Dispatch Combi Comfort 120 SX

The entry-level version with less power

Best-seller:

Dispatch Combi Leisure 136 SX

Mid-spec with the more capable 136 HDi engine

Blow the budget:

Dispatch Combi Premium 136 SX

More power than the 120 with better kit

Very handy for getting wheelchairs in and out and transporting heavy loads of large proportions