11:48AM, Friday 04 October 2019
You see big value family packs everywhere in supermarkets, so it’s logical they should also be in car showrooms.
And that’s exactly what happens in the case of the Citroen Berlingo XL, a concept that has been around since the 1998 Multispace and taken to new levels by the latest generation.
With more than 60 per cent of buyers taking advantage of the model’s top options, Citroen has added a UK-only, the Flair XTR, to the line-up to serve as a complete trim level. So it’s a family pack car with knobs on, and what’s not to like about that?
Provided you can get over yourself and deal with driving what’s basically a van with seats in the back then everything’s fine. The van origins show through but not so much that our granddaughters’ childminder found it too difficult to trade in her top trim Ford S-MAX against this capable Citroen, so far without regrets.
In fact our eldest granddaughter was excited to see our Berlingo which exactly matched the one she already knows thanks to the unusual aqua green paint. And it seems that, style conscious though this soon-to-be-10-year-old is, she doesn’t resent travelling in a converted van when she’s picked up from school. In fact the impression is it’s rather cool!
Even the award judges at Auto Express tend to agree, naming the Berlingo XL its MPV of the year. You can see why. It has more volume than our own Ford Galaxy, the favourite of the minicab fleets, yet costs far less when you compare equivalent trim levels. What’s not to like?
Citroen has been busy upgrading its models of late to reflect the tastes of buyers for even better equipment, starting with that that Berlingo XTR. It brings together the options such as the Modutop glazed roof with storage bins and fancy lighting in a floating arch beneath it, an opening rear tailgate window, fold flat rear seats, and the Airbump exterior protection that helps fend off minor knocks.
We slummed it in the more basic Flair XL version but that is perfect for most families. The XL bit denotes the extended length of around 30 centimetres, done properly with stretched wheelbase and additional rear tinwork rather than a bit obviously tacked on the back of a shorter van, as happened with the previous generation. We opted for the eight speed automatic version with the BlueHDi 130 bhp diesel engine which starts at £26,850 on the road. It had a host of options, including that metallic paint, but we would have gone without all of them apart from the dual zone climate control for £250.
It’s a very competent car that most buyers will enjoy, although there’s some detail that’s unnecessary. Perhaps most annoying is the fiddly rotary control for the transmission which, while of decent diameter, is not tall enough for fingers to grip easily when it needs to be moved from Park through its other positions. It has a very small indicator to show the gear it’s in although, to be fair, there is more info, including the ratio engaged, in the instrument binnacle.
The van origins also make the rear view mirror too far away for shorter people to adjust easily but the rest of the controls are fine. Peugeot-Citroen has been using the same speed limiter and cruise control stalk since the days of the original Berlingo and it works really well once you have figured it out.
All the seats are easily accessible and, as our eldest granddaughter showed us, if you are using the ISOFix mountings in the centre row making the seats difficult to fold, the rearmost seats are easily accessible via the tailgate, which also reveals decent stowage space with all seven seats in use. Nothing in the MPV world will beat the 4,000 litres of space with the seats removed and the front passenger seat can also be folded to accommodate long items.
The 130 bhp engine gives the car some mechanical flair while the 49.5 mpg we averaged is fair for the size of van. As family cars go, it’s a real Swiss army knife.
Car: Citroen New Berlingo XL Flair BlueHDi 130 S&S 8-speed auto
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 11.5 secs
Top speed: 114 mph
PS: 130 @ 3,500 rpm
Torque: 300 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: TBC mpg
CO2 emissions: 113 g/km
Best bits: ultimate versatility
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