Black on black
Sold in some markets around the world as the Peugeot Partner, the Citroen Berlingo version available in Australia is a solid-feeling compact delivery van.
The original Citroen Berlingo was one of the first in the wave of compact delivery vans that came out of Europe in the mid-‘90s. Several major upgrades later the current Berlingo continues the evolution of vehicles that have the load carrying attributes of a van melded with the driving characteristics of a compact sedan.
The ‘long’ body version in this test has more floor space than most of the dual cab utes on the market with the added advantages of better security and weather protection and is capable of accommodating a standard dimension Australian pallet between the rear wheel arches. Payload weight is 750kgs and the 3.7 cubic metre cargo capacity on this long body can be increased to 4.1 cubic metres by folding the passenger seat.
This also takes the maximum length of cargo items from 2,050mm to 3,250mm. Access at the rear is via a set of 60/40 barn doors that can be folded out to 180 degrees by pushing the bright yellow release levers. Sliding doors on both sides of the cargo area are standard equipment and provide easy access to items close to the front of the cargo space. Single touch control switches for the front door windows are located in the centre of the dash along with separate buttons for the main and cargo doors which complement the security of having similar separate buttons on the remote key fob unit.
The 1.6 litre turbo diesel in this test model produces 66kW of power and a very handy maximum torque of 215 Nm from as low as 1,500 rpm. The Berlingo’s service interval is a very economical 20,000 kilometres or every 12 months if that sort of travel isn’t being covered.
The five speed manual transmission is easy to operate with a very light and progressive feel on the clutch pedal. The dash mounted shifter travels a bit more than expected but is positive in its use. The gearbox’s ratios are such that around town a lot of time is spent in third gear rather than fourth. On the freeway the Berlingo really stretches its legs and takes advantage of the torquey engine. There is an optional six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission available.
It’s a challenge to recall the last time we drove any vehicle in which the horn was the only control located on the steering wheel. The Berlingo has the majority of its controls situated within fingers’ reach on the four stalks mounted on the steering column. The thick spokes of the steering wheel hide the majority of the identifying symbols on the stalks but their operation is quite intuitive and it doesn’t take much time to become familiar enough to avoid hitting the cruise control when you really wanted to change radio stations.
The radio unit has a seven-inch screen and it also displays the live image from the reversing camera, which is supplemented by audible reversing sensors and guidelines on the screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with the media unit and the easy Bluetooth connection permits screen mirroring from a smartphone’s navigation app. There’s a USB socket and a 12-volt power outlet on the dash as well as another ‘lighter’ style socket located at the rear of the cargo bay.
The cabin floor is protected by a heavy moulded rubber mat that also serves as heat and sound insulation; and the cargo area has a high impact plastic floor covering that will assist in protecting the floor as well as the cargo. Six fold-away anchor points are available for load restraint connections.
There is no bulkhead behind the seats. Instead a roll down vinyl curtain is used to separate people from cargo. The driver’s seat has a rudimentary steel tube protector to minimise injury from unrestrained packing flying forward in any instance of heavy braking.
The curtain also improves the efficiency of the air conditioner/heater unit by containing the conditioned air within the driver and passenger space. There’s a hidden storage drawer under the driver’s seat, a thin storage shelf above the windscreen, ideal for paperwork and a covered storage bin on top of the dash in front of the driver. There’s also a removable bin between the seats.
This test model is the Berlingo in its basic form with one airbag for the driver. Passenger and curtain airbags are components of the extra cost ‘look pack’ available for the long body vehicles which includes LED daytime-running lamps, fog lamps with cornering function, colour coded bumpers, mirrors, door handles and side protectors along with Airflow wheel covers. Being black, our test unit is homogenously colour coded without the additional cost.
This current model was launched in 2008 and the next generation range was introduced in Europe earlier in 2018 and can be expected here before the end of this year.