Mercedes-Benz Citan review

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The second generation version of Mercedes' Citan compact van might just be the image your company needs, thinks Jonathan Crouch

Ten Second Review

The Citan is Mercedes' idea of what a compact van should be. An LCV that in this second generation form is more than just practical and efficient to run but one with a depth of engineering and a sheen of quality that make the right statement about your business. Potentially then, the ideal recipe for a small business with big aspirations.

Background

What might the Mercedes of small vans be like? Well, back in 2012, with the little Citan LCV, we had our answer. Except that it wasn't really a Mercedes but a Renault Kangoo with a fairly extreme makeover. As is this second generation model.

Unlike its rivals though, when Mercedes does badge engineering, the end result is more than just badge-changed. Like its predecessor, this MK2 Citan looks different from its Renault cousin outside, feels different inside and drives differently too, even though all the engines are the same. As before, there's a choice of short or long wheelbase models and a people carrying Tourer variant cells alongside the panel van that's our focus here.

Driving Experience

Initial sales are based around diesel power, plus there's a full-Electric eCitan version for the first time - and not before time, given that the previous model could have offered an EV option but didn't. Most businesses will still want a diesel - in this case a 95hp version of the 1.5-litre Renault diesel familiar from before, badged 110 CDI. This variant takes a lethargic 15.5s to get to 62mph, but 260Nm of torque accessed through a 6-speed gearbox makes it nippy enough for urban use. The standard transmission choice is primarily based around that 6-speed manual gearbox, but Mercedes also offers the option of a 7-speed dual clutch auto. Obviously the full-Electric eCitan variant has to have an auto, which works with a 122hp electric motor and 44kWh battery with a range of 176 miles.

Mercedes says that all versions of this MK2 Citan are significantly quieter than their predecessors, thanks to the addition of extra sound deadening that better insulates the interior from engine and road noise. And this second generation model also gets a decent dose of the camera-driven driving aids and camera safety equipment that its predecessor lacked - features like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring.

Design and Build

Unless someone told you about this Citan's Renault Kangoo ancestry, you wouldn't guess it from a glance at the thing. Instead, if Mercedes was going to make a compact van, this is pretty much how you'd expect it to look, with hints of B-Class and Sprinter and a large grille with the usual big Three Pointed Star in the centre. As you'd expect in this class, there's a choice of short or long wheelbase body styles and a single roof height.

Inside, somewhat predictably, it's all a lot nicer than you might ever expect a van to be. The round air vents from the brand's passenger cars feature, though here they usually have a gloss black finish. And there's a 5.5-inch central MBUX infotainment screen with clear graphics and loads of media connectivity, plus 'Hey Mercedes' voice functionality. Because the display is quite small, the ventilation controls remain separated out beneath it.

Air conditioning, heat-insulated glass, LED interior lighting and and armrest with a stowage compartment come fitted to all models.

Market and Model

Think in terms of an asking price span of around £21,500 to £24,500 (ex VAT) for a diesel Citan and you shouldn't be too far out. Obviously, you'll need to pay a bit more if you want the full-electric eCitan version (think £34,000-£36,000 ex-VAT before you deduct the £2,500 government Plug-in Van Grant). Either way, there are two trim levels, 'Progressive' and 'Premium'.

All Citan cab interiors boast heat-insulating glass all round and multi-function steering wheels that adjust for both rake and height. Exterior design touches include 16-inch wheels (design wheels on the 'Progressive' and alloys on the 'Premium') and heated, electrically adjustable side mirrors. 'Premium'-spec adds a range of cosmetic enhancements including body-coloured bumpers, chrome trim, gloss black dashboard finish, a Dynamic exterior package with metallic paint and unique alloy wheels and a Light package, which comprises LED high-performance headlights with High Beam Assist and front foglamps.

You don't have to pay extra for strong standards of basic safety. There's a robust body structure with energy-absorbing dissipation paths and driving assistance and parking systems that observe the traffic and surroundings and, if necessary, can issue warnings or assist the driver by intervening. As in the new generations of the Mercedes C-Class and-Class, Active Lane Keeping Assist uses steering interventions as opposed to braking. In addition to the legally required ABS and ESP systems, Citan models are also equipped with Hill Start Assist, Crosswind Assist, the fatigue-warning system ATTENTION ASSIST and the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system as standard. Plus there are up to six airbags.

Practicalities and Costs

The Citan combines compact exterior dimensions (L1 model length: 4498mm) with a generous amount of space. Even in that smaller L1 variant (with 2716mm of wheelbase length), the Citan offers much more space compared with the predecessor model. The short wheelbase panel van load compartment length, for example, is a useful 3.05 metres to the flexible partition wall.

As usual in this segment, one sliding door is standard and a second is optional. Each will offer a wide opening measuring 615mm. The height of the load compartment opening is 1059mm. The loading sill of the panel van sits at a height of 59cm. Meanwhile, the two sections of the rear doors can be blocked at an angle of 90 degrees and can even be moved through 180 degrees to the sides of the vehicle. The doors are asymmetrical, whereby the left-hand door is wider and has to be opened first.

As for total capacity, well it isn't quite as straightforward as simply choosing the right body size - select either the 3.3m3 short wheelbase L1 model or the 4.2m3 long wheelbase L2 version. That's because in each case, there's the option to specify a fold-forward front seat that can boost said figures by quite a lot; to 3.9m3 for the shorter version and to as much as 4.9m3 for the lengthier variant. And payload? Well for standard diesel versions of this van, this is limited to 667kgs. All models can squeeze in a standard Euro pallet thanks to the generous 1,248mm width between the wheel arches that all Citans share.

Costs are kept well in check thanks to the proven Renault engineering. Take the class-competitive CO2 reading - 137g/km for the 110 diesel manual and up to 54.3mpg combined. We gave you the 176 mile driving range of the eCitan full-Electric version earlier. At rapid charging stations, the battery is expected to take 35 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 percent. 

Summary

This second generation Citan borrows from what is in our view the most improved compact van on the market - the MK3 Renault Kangoo - and adds a Mercedes sheen to the whole package that will particularly appeal to owner drivers. To create a proposition that will obviously make even more sense if your company fleet already includes larger Mercedes Vito and Sprinter vans and you need some smaller ones for urban deliveries.

Overall, this Citan is good enough - and distinct enough - to credibly wear the Three-Pointed Star and justify its premium as a quality choice in the compact van segment. The way it looks, the way it drives and the way it'll feel to own and use this van are all unique. As will be the impression your business will make in running one. Imagine, say, you're running a gourmet food business or delivering fresh flowers. Like it or not, you're going to create more of an impression of quality arriving in a Mercedes-Benz. Of course, all that would be an irrelevance if the practicalities and economics of this vehicle didn't stack up. Fortunately for the German brand, proven Renault underpinnings and engineware ensure that they do.

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