Citroen Berlingo Multispace 1.6HDi VTR (2008) review

Published: 17 June 2008

Citroen Berlingo Multispace 1.6HDi VTR (2008) review
  • At a glance
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  • 3 out of 5

The old Citroen Berlingo Multispace looked like a van, drove like a van. Was a van. But it defined a whole new segment of functional family carriers. Citroen has sold nearly a million of the boxy little people movers since 1998, and over 50,000 in the UK. Thus the new Citroen Berlingo Multispace has a reputation to uphold. But could also do with despatching a few of the old model’s crudities.

The new Citroen Multispace certainly looks modern. But just as much like a van.

That’s because it still is one. But this time round the Berlingo van the Multispace is based on is a) bigger, and b) shares its platform with the C4 Picasso (rather than using ancient Citroen ZX components). The result is an extra abundance of passenger and luggage room, and a much more comfortable car-like driving experience.

The rear is accessed by twin sliding doors, and although shoulder room in the back is a little tight, the Multispace easily swallows five adults. And, with 675-litres of boot even before you’ve hoiked out the parcel shelf or started investigating the mind-boggling number of cubby holes, you shouldn’t struggle to pack in all their luggage.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Citroen Berlingo Multispace first drive

Mind-boggling, eh? Has it been a long week?

Even as standard the Multispace has a shelf above the windscreen, compartments under the rear footwells and front seats, a large glovebox, dashtop tray and covered storage, doorbins, cupholders, and numerous funny little cutouts and trinket areas – including two circular ones in the dash facia that neatly echo the air vents.

The rear seats are removable, whether you opt for the standard split-fold rear bench or pay extra for three individual chairs. Take them out and you have a completely flat, carpeted floor area, and 3000 litres of space.

Still not satisfied? Hit the options list. As before there is a Modutop interior roof shelf system including glass roof panels. But this now offers even more capacity, an air freshener, and an extra box over the boot space, not to mention external roof bars that can by mounted longitudinally or transversally.

The boot box is big enough to swallow the optional removable centre console should you want to store this out of sight. And if you don’t want quite so much overhead clutter, interior roof bars are available instead. Combine these with the optional opening rear tailgate window and you can carry skis – inside the car.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Citroen Berlingo Multispace first drive

All right so it’s practical. What’s it like to drive?

There are only five speeds (and nothing to stop you selecting reverse in search of an imaginary sixth; fortunately the brain kicked in before I let out the clutch), but the predicted best-selling 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine compensates with a ready 159lb ft of torque. It’s a bit noisy under power, but nowhere near as raucous as the 89bhp 1.6-litre petrol’s top end. There’s a little wind noise round the door tops, and some road noise at speed, but refinement is far from unacceptable. Visibility is also excellent.

The last thing you would have thought a vehicle this tall needed was extra height. But that’s exactly what you get from the range-topping XTR model. Its ‘lifestyle’ pseudo off-road body detailing literally stands above the basic VT and VTR models thanks to a 20mm suspension lift. Funny thing is, the revised spring rates required to cope with this actually improve the Multispace’s handling, checking body roll better and reducing the steering’s pronounced desperation to self-centre.

The XTR is also available with a more powerful 108bhp diesel – louder but faster, and slightly greener. This combination becomes quite good fun on a back road, but the Multispace really majors on comfort. With a supple standard ride (XTR only marginally firmer), you hear bumps more than you feel them.

Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Citroen Berlingo Multispace

Anything that’s awful?

Not as such. Four Euro NCAP stars and just two standard airbags doesn’t impress. The indicators sound like refugees from a games console, and oddly the rev-counter is the same on all versions and doesn’t have any redline markings – must be a cost saving thing. The entry-level petrol VT starts at £10,995, the expected big-selling VTR 89bhp diesel is £12,375, and the more powerful range-topping XTR diesel £14,625, so pricing is competitive. However, Citroen is factoring this as a no-nonsense purchase, and so a lot of kit is relegated to the options list.

Verdict

If you worried about image, the Berlingo Multispace probably isn’t for you. It’s an unassuming, classless kind of car, aimed at people who put practicality and value above other considerations, and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.

Critics will say it’s still just a seated up van. Fans will say it’s a way of life. We say the new Berlingo Multispace is a welcome improvement on an established formula and should continue the concept’s modest success.

And if you’re really on a budget, don’t worry: the original version is soldiering on, rebadged Berlingo First and priced from £8,695.

Specs

Price when new: £12,375
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1560cc 16v turbodiesel, 89bhp @ 4000rpm, 159lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front wheel drive
Performance: 14.3secs 0-62mph, 100mph, 49.6mpg, 150g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1407kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4380/1810/1801

Rivals

Photo Gallery

  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: rear three-quarters pictures
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: modutop, interior roof shelf
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: rear three-quarters picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: side view picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: front three-quarters picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: rear three-quarters pictures
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: modutop, interior roof shelf
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: interior picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: rear three-quarters picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: side view picture
  • Citroen Berlingo CAR review: front three-quarters picture