"Our Berlingo has been well and truly put through the mill over the course of this business test"
Vans are all about business and no matter how hard the humble road-tester tries to put him or her self into the mindset of the people who drive these vehicles for a living, they're always likely to come up that bit short. It's tricky to think like a parcel courier with a delivery schedule like Michael Palin's holiday itinerary or a window fitter the day after the country was deluged with hailstones the size of tennis balls but these are the people who need their vans to help them get difficult jobs done. There's nowhere for a van to hide its foibles durring such intensive use and we were confident that our Citroen Berlingo's strengths and weeknesses would be laid bare durring a few weeks with local video production company Vivid Broadcast, based near Horsham in Sussex. The Berlingo's cabin is the place where drivers working with the vehicle day-in day-out will spend the majority of their time. Not just driving but taking phone calls (hands free, of course), completing paperwork and even eating lunch. Citroen's design team were obviously only too aware of this and they've taken a series of measures to make the space user-friendly. Has it worked? Our budding Stephen Spielbergs had a lot of time for the robust construction in the front of the Berlingo. By that, we think they mean that they didn't break anything. There were complaints about the all-important cup holders though. The ones on the floor are tricky to access (especially when driving) and the ones in the Berlingo's doors won't take anything bigger than a Coke can. There were also problems with the glovebox which is divided into a number of small sections, preventing it from accomidating larger items like CDs easily. Overall, the team were impressed with the cabin environment with the only major complaint relating to the Berlingo's third central seat in which the leg room is serioiusly restricted by the gear lever.
There's a lot of carrying capacity in the rear of the Berlingo and it's been put to good use. Crammed with bulky camera and sound equipment, the Berlingo seemed relatively unphased and loading proved refreshingly easy. It's tough to fault the design of the load bay which suffers from minimal wheelarch intrusion and has a very low loading lip which is perfect when hoisting bulky items inside. Payloads range from 625kg on the model we've been testing to a significant 850kg that could make some operators question the need for a full-size panel van. On the downside, the sliding side door is very narrow and while useful for accessing items when the rear doors are blocked off, it dosen't alow large boxes to be loaded through it. There's also nothing to prevent damage to the rear doors if you accidently close them in the wrong order. Our Berlingo is powered by a 1.6-litre 90bhp HDi diesel engine. There's a useful 215Nm of torque on tap, so as long as you're swift enough with the gearbox, you shouldn't be left floundering with a big load on board when a steep incline presents itself. The video crew were broadly impressed by the performance on offer and found the Berlingo fun to drive , especially when the back was empty. The cruise control and speed limiting function came in for particular praise, as did the engine's fuel economy. The team noted a major difference in the fuel economy that could be obtained by dropping from 70mph to 60mph on the motorway. Less positive aspects of the Berlingo's performance when on the move were the road and tyre noise transmitted into the cabin and the slightly sticky feel of the foot brake, which was a particular fault developed on our model. The team pointed out that the noise levels would be greatly reduced by the specification of a bulkhead, which our Belingo lacks. The satallite navigation system fitted to our Berlingo proved to be worth its weight in gold when the team were on route to film locations. It worked extremely effectively and proved surprisingly easy to asign different destinations. The powerful windscreen washers received a big thumbs up, but they did need to be topped up fairly regularly, while the headlights that stay on for a few seconds after you've locked the car proved very handy when working late. Our Berlingo has been well and truly put through the mill over the course of this business test. There have been hiccups along the way but by and large, it's emerged with flying colours. That's a sterling performance from the little van and a good indication of its considerable abilities in real world business use.
Facts at a Glance
Facts At A Glance MANUFACTURER: Citroen MODEL: Berlingo BHP: 75bhp - 90bhp PAYLOAD CAPACITY: 625kg - 850kg LOAD VOLUME: 3.3m3 - 3.7m3 GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT: 1,960kg - 2,185kg LENGTH: 4,380mm - 4,628mm WIDTH: 1,810mm HEIGHT: 1,812mm-1,840mm