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Citroen Berlingo Multispace MPV (2008 – ) expert review

By Ian Robertson, 20th November 2010

The verdict

The van-based Citroen Berlingo Multispace offers enormous carrying capacity, a functional cabin, with a well-mannered drive and frugal engines.

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Expert rating:

3.3

Pros

  • Economical engines
  • Sliding side doors
  • Lots of luggage space

Cons

  • Looks like a van with windows
  • Equipment on entry models poor
  • Air-con costs more on most models

Full Review

1. Exterior

Considering its van-based roots, the Citroen Berlingo Multispace isn’t an ugly car and shares underpinnings with the C4 Picasso. A sister car, to the Peugeot Partner, the Berlingo has a bold front end, with large headlights and a chic Citroen double chevrons badge. Mid-range VTR models looks classy, and body-cladding fitted to the XTR gives a muscular off-road look, despite being front-wheel drive only. Compared to the gawky Fiat Doblo, the Berlingo looks quite smart.

Our rating: 3

2. Interior

The cabin is durable and solid, with lots of cubby holes, cup holders and places to store things. All the controls are logically-placed and feel sturdy, while the dashboard looks functional rather than stylish. The radio is located high up in the dash, along with the ventilation controls, which means less time with eyes off the road when driving. The seats are comfortable, but lack lateral support. Unusually, the gear lever is mounted on the centre console, which actually feels quite naturally placed once you get used to it.

Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Space inside is one of the Berlingo’s ace cards with up to 3,000 litres of luggage room with the seats folded. Even with all the seats in place, 675 litres is available. This is a little less than the Fiat Doblo, but considerably more than most other MPVs. The rear seats split and fold, and can also be removed to free up even more space. There’s even the option of seven seats. The upright driving position won’t suit everyone, but is helped by a multi-adjustable steering wheel. Visibility all around is excellent thanks to large windows, and parking sensors can be specified as an optional extra. For caravan fans, the Berlingo can tow up to 1,300kg.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

Thanks to a chassis that is based on the C4 Picasso, it handles neatly and safely with a supple, comfortable ride. It’s not a car that you necessarily enjoy driving, but feels civilised and well-composed. Steering feel and weighting is pretty average, though the Berlingo can suffer from body lean when cornering due to the slab-sided, tall design. Refinement is good, with low levels of road and wind noise, and comfort levels for both driver and passengers are generally quite high.

Our rating: 3

5. Performance

There’s a choice of three 1.6-litre HDi diesel engines and a single petrol 1.6-litre engine – all mated to a smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox – and each one providing performance that is best described as leisurely. The best selling 1.6-litre HDi engine in 91bhp guise, for instance, has a top speed of 100mph and a 0-62mph acceleration figure of 14.3 seconds. The sole petrol engine develops 97bhp, accelerates to 62mph in 13.8 seconds and has a maximum speed of 103mph. Top speed is largely irrelevant here, because of the type of car it is, though acceleration, especially with all five seats occupied could be better.

Our rating: 2

6. Running costs

The Berlingo produces class competitive CO2 emissions and fuel economy and does so without any of the trickery employed by some of its rivals. It does without expensive stop and start technology, yet still achieves CO2 emission of 139g/km on diesel models, and 164g/km for the petrol engine. This translates into an average 53.3mpg and 39.8mpg respectively. Insurance is lower than any of its rivals, and forecasted values for a three-year old car are better than the Fiat Doblo and its sister car, the Peugeot Partner.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Thanks to its van roots, the Berlingo has been built to last, using solid, dependable and durable materials. Since the launch of the first generation model, the van version has built up a solid reputation for reliability in the business world, and the second generation passenger version is expected to be no different. Its HDi diesel engines in particular are proven and highly respected, and used in a variety of different car and commercial vehicle applications.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The Berlingo achieved a solid four-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, which beats the Fiat Doblo, and matches the rating of the Renault Kangoo. This result could potentially have been better had Citroen chosen to fit more than two airbags as standard – only flagship XTR models gain six airbags. It’s disappointing that side and head airbags are resigned to the optional extras list for mid-range VTR trim buyers. In contrast Fiat fits six airbags to all its Doblo models. All models feature anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, with electronic stability programme and traction control optional at extra cost.

Our rating: 3

9. Equipment

Standard equipment is best described as basic on VT models, but gets better on VTR and flagship XTR models. All models come with two airbags, remote central locking, electric front windows and a CD player. Mid-range VTR models add front fog lights, colour coding to the exterior, electric and heated mirrors, while top-spec XTR trim includes individual rear seats, six airbags, raised suspension and chunky body styling, 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con, and airline-style tables for the rear seats. Key optional extras include sat-nav, parking sensors, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and cargo carrying equipment.

Our rating: 2

10. Why buy?

The Berlingo is exceptionally well priced, costing considerably less than the Fiat Doblo. It is spacious inside and is available with all kinds of clever kit, including an internal roof rack system. And with the seats folded down, it can carry a gargantuan 3,000 litres of luggage – much more than even larger MPVs can cope with. And once you factor in low running costs and good fuel economy, the Berlingo makes a compelling case for itself.

Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.3stars

  • Exterior3
  • Interior3
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance2
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety3
  • Equipment2
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Berlingo Multispace VTR 1.6HDi 90

Competitive CO2 emissions and lots of kit make it stand out.

Best seller:

Berlingo Multispace VTR 1.6HDi 90

Good spec and frugal engine makes it the buyers’ choice.

Blow the budget:

Berlingo Multispace XTR 1.6HDi 90

Pumped-up styling and good engine for this ultimate buy.

Space inside is one of the Berlingo’s ace cards.