Variant tested: XTR 1.6-litre HDi 115hp 5-speed manual
By Wayne Gorrett
✔ Highly practical, spacious cabin, comfortable, user-friendly seating, strong turbo-diesel.
✖ Ageing with little grace in most areas.
☀ ☀ ☀
Okay, let’s put all the van talk into a sealed box right here at the top of the show. Like its Peugeot cousin – the Partner Tepee – they both share C4 and previous 308 underpinnings – the Berlingo Multispace may well look like a two-box van with windows (so do the Land Rover Discovery and the Range Rover, incidentally), but both were designed from the outset as load-lugging, multi-passenger cars.
Introduced to the UK market as long ago as 2008, the Berlingo Multispace is as spacious and practical as medium-sized cars go and a viable alternative family mover. It’s also surprisingly fun to drive, has good grip, decent handling, the diesel engines are reasonably refined and it feels solidly built. However, on the entry-level versions you’ll have to spend a bit extra on desirable comfort and safety kit.
It doesn’t deal too well with ‘Pothole UK plc’ and most of the cabin plastics are a tad harsh. But then, you don’t go all touchy-feely in your car every day and those you do come into contact with are just fine. Buyers of this car don’t buy it for what they want – they buy it for what they need. The power-steering is quite light and while handy for parking manoeuvres, it’s a little too responsive at A-road or motorway speeds.
To state the obvious, this is not a car for the Plato’s, Sheddon’s or Hamilton’s. It’s an every-day car for those who need to get from A to B and back to A, safely and assuredly. The ‘B’ will most likely include the local skip, the school run, shuttling the bridge club around or just a summer’s day at the beach with the family.
The mid-power 1.6-litre 115bhp diesel engine is a little chatty but is adequately punchy and you won’t have to work it hard to keep pace with most traffic. It’s nice and torquey with good low-rev pull and more than adequate for everyday use.
Behind the wheel, the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach. It’s easy to get comfortable and the large windows mean excellent visibility. The controls, while utilitarian, are simple and easy to use, although you wouldn’t use the word ‘stylish’ too frequently. Noise levels are reasonably well-suppressed for what is a cavernous car.
Giving the game away in the name, space is where the Citroen Berlingo Multispace excels and is its primary raison d’etre. There’s plenty of room for five, with very generous headroom and sliding rear doors make it easy to get in and out in tight spaces. The huge boot will swallow everyone’s luggage and the low sill makes for easy loading. Three independent folding/removable/adjusting rear seats are optional on most of the range, but standard on the XTR as tested.
When it comes to moving quickly through air, a boxy shape is not remotely conducive to efficiency. Yet buyers of the Berlingo Multispace will benefit from a cavernous interior and stowage, plus great accessibility and versatility. Sliding doors are a boon in tight supermarket car parks. Roof rails are standard fit across the range, so carrying additional items on top of the car makes sense, too.
The XTR trim level as tested was generously equipped and included rear parking sensors, air conditioning, electric front windows, row two side window blinds, remote central locking, a multitude of overhead storage bins, height-adjustable driver’s seat, electrically adjustable and folding door mirrors, automatic hazards lights under heavy braking, front seat armrests, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted controls, fog lamps, 16in alloy wheels and rear privacy glass.
Driving fun is not likely to be a priority for Citroen Berlingo Multispace buyers but it handles with surprising agility. It shares many underpinnings with the previous Peugeot 308 and corners more like a car than a van. It is lower and wider than the old Berlingo it replaced and body roll is only apparent on tight twisty bits thanks to its better poise. The power-steering is very light – useful for parking manoeuvres but a little too responsive at higher speeds.
While the original design left the drawing board more than ten years ago, Citroen’s Berlingo Multispace continues to offer capacious accommodations, multi-purpose use and very reasonable investment and running costs for a family on a budget. It offers pretty much everything you’ll ever need. It’s very easy to drive, live with and is flexible to all lifestyles.
It is unlikely to tug at too many heart strings in the looks department and its class rivals have moved on to better offerings some time ago. For that reason, I suggest you investigate buying it online to obtain a significant discount. The list price for the XTR 1.6 HDi 115bhp variant as tested is £17,785. The best on-line price I could find was £13,834 which scrubs off a whopping £4,071. Hopefully that gets your attention!
Fast facts: Citroen Berlingo Multispace XTR
Model base price: £17,785 (£20,785 as driven) * Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder diesel * Power: 115bhp * Torque: 240Nm @ 1,500 rpm * 0-62mph in 12.1 secs * Top speed: 107mph * Economy: 55.4 mpg claimed combined * Fuel tank capacity: 60 litres (est. range 700+ miles) * CO2: 134g/km * Gearbox: 5-Speed manual * Servicing: Every 16,000 miles * BIK (Benefit in Kind): 22% * Warranty: 3 years / 60,000 miles.