Just because it’s a van, it doesn’t have to be noisy, uncomfortable or short on creature comforts.
Just the opposite in fact. Drivers of light commercial vehicles tend to spend much of their working day in their vehicles, which means comfort becomes as important as practicality. That’s where the Citroen Berlingo comes in.
I spent a week in the company of a Berlingo and became quite fond of this car-derived van in brilliant Polar White. While having the booms and rattles that any vehicle with a large load-space will suffer from, it was nonetheless comfortable and pleasing to drive. A fully timber-lined load-space kept the noise under control.
More importantly for the user, you get a huge 3.3 square metres of carrying capacity, or 3.7 square metres with the passenger seat folded. As well as the rear doors there’s a side sliding door for ease of loading, and the load sill is gratifyingly low to save your back muscles. Payload is 653 kilograms.
Despite being a commercial vehicle, this tall, roomy and supremely practical van still looks good. It has a solid look about it, with a purposeful stance on the road.
You get a nice airy cabin with good visibility. Obviously there’s no central rear view mirror, but the large truck-like side mirrors are adequate for rear visibility.
Driving position is good – quite high if you raise the driver’s seat – and instruments are simple and clear.
Despite its height this vehicle still handles well. Cornering is crisp and positive and the ride is soft without being too wallowy.
I drove the diesel Berlingo HDi 120 LX powered by a 1.6 litre engine 120bhp common rail direct injection engine, linked to a pleasant six-speed manual gearbox. It’s not the quietest diesel engine in the world, but neither is it the most sluggish. Inside the vehicle it feels refined, with good flexibility and power whenever you need it. Fuel consumption is good – around 64.2 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.
There’s plenty of cabin storage space in this vehicle. As well as glove-box, dash storage and big door pockets, there is storage space over the windscreen. The load compartment has six lashing eyes, protective panelling and lighting. My test car had the option of a mesh upper bulkhead (£90).
Standard equipment on the vehicle which I tested includes 15 inch steel wheels with a full-size spare, Smartnav touch-screen satellite navigation, touch-screen radio/CD and MP3 player, with steering wheel-mounted controls, electrically adjustable door mirrors, remote central locking, cruise control, remote central locking and electric windows.
The Berlingo gives you a lot of car for your cash – which is just £15,180 plus VAT for this specification. My test car also came with air conditioning (£600), anti-theft alarm (£150) and rear parking sensors (£200).