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Practicality on a budget has always been the key USP of Citroen’s passenger version of its Berlingo, but has it added greater appeal with the new model?

Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Image 10

On the road

On the road

Practical rather than premium, the Citroen Berlingo and its van-derived contemporaries definitely have an important role to play in offering cost-efficient no-frills sensible motoring, with space and usefulness as their biggest strengths.

This is the third-generation Berlingo, and it comes as part of a trio of passenger people-carriers that have van siblings, alongside the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life passenger cars, and the Partner and Combo van models that will follow with the Berlingo light van around the end of 2018. And most of what we say about the Berlingo, certainly in terms of engines, driving experience and practicality is also applicable to its sibling passenger models.

For the first time the Berlingo is available in two body lengths. The regular five-seat model is called M, then there’s the seven-seat XL, which offers an extra 350mm of length as well as two more seats, which are removable. The XL, which joins the range before the end of the year, also raises luggage space from an already-huge 775 litres to 1050.

Initially, Citroen is offering three diesel engines, and one petrol, although a 130hp petrol with an eight-speed auto gearbox will be added to the range in 2019. But for now, it’s just the 110hp petrol 1.2, and 1.5-litre diesels of 75, 100 and 130hp, the latter coming with either manual or automatic transmissions. The entry diesel is available in only the lower of the two trim levels.

Those trim levels are Feel and Flair, and are separated by £2250. As such, there’s a big spec difference between them, with one feeling very much like the budget alternative, and the other well-loaded with goodies for those wanting to spend the extra.

However, that’s not to say Feel is a complete bargain-basement spec, with Citroen impressively fitting its Active Safety Brake system as standard, along with lane-keep assist and speed-limit recognition. The base model also gets an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic headlights, air conditioning and a DAB radio.

Flair adds 16-inch alloy wheels rather than the steels of the entry car, as well as satnav, gloss black roof bars, LED daytime running lights, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors, electric parking brake and three independent fold-flat rear seats rather than a 60:40 split affair. That’s a decent haul for the £2250 increase, and makes a noticeable difference inside and out. It can also be enhanced by the £590 XTR pack on the Flair trim, which adds 17-inch alloys, gloss black mirrors, front and rear scuff plates and coloured upgrades inside and out.

Other options are well priced, with the likes of adaptive cruise control (£200), keyless entry (£250), auto high beam (£150) and front parking sensors (£200) all examples of accessible options available on the Flair trim.

The Berlingo, as is the case with its van variant, has been endowed with the latest Citroen design cues, which means slender headlights and two-tier light signature, while Citroen has also added its airbump side padding, first seen on the C4 Cactus model, with coloured surrounds to the first bump and foglight surrounds.

However, as much as the looks matter, this car is always going to be bought for head reasons rather than heart, and practicality is a real strength. Citroen claims a maximum of 28 separate interior storage spots totalling 186 litres of stowage, including what it calls the Modutop roof system – a £750 option that adds panoramic roof with floating translucent roof arch and storage areas above the passengers’ heads. That’s not cheap, but it’s a unique solution and adds practicality.

Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Image 10
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This is the third generation of Berlingo van and passenger car pairing, vehicles that are the same in all but badge as the Peugeot Partner van and Tepee passenger version, the latter having been renamed Rifter this time around.

This car also has a new sibling, making it triplets, with Vauxhall’s Combo Life completing the trio of almost identical models following the acquisition of Vauxhall and Opel by Citroen and Peugeot parent firm, Groupe PSA.

Citroen says its new model is a “smart buy for families with active lifestyles who are looking for space, practicality and simplicity of use”.

The French brand claims the Berlingo passenger car’s influence in being the benchmark car in the Leisure  Activity Vehicle segment, or LAV for short, is such that these van-derived cars are known as the “Berlingo segment” in some countries.

Between the car and light commercial vehicle versions of the Berlingo, the model is Citroen’s second-biggest seller behind the C3 supermini and had a record year in 2016 despite it nearing replacement by that point.

There have been two prior generations of Berlingo, with the first running from 1996-2008 (pictured) and the second from 2008-2018.

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - In context - First Generation Citroen Berlingo 1996 - 2008

What they said

What They Said

"With new low-emission petrol and diesel engines coupled to both M and XL five- and seven-seat variants, the new Berlingo offers vastly improved flexibility and visual appeal. It will satisfy a broader range of fleet customers’ needs."

"New technologies will help fleets to meet duty of care requirements. Items such as Lane-Departure Warning, Active Safety Brake and Driver Attention Alert are now available with new Berlingo, while a choice of trim and equipment and Citroen’s Advanced Comfort features help long-distance drivers stay fresh and focused."

Martin Gurney, director of fleet and used vehicles, Groupe PSA

Martin Gurney, fleet and used vehicle director, PSA Group

Comparatively speaking

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Comparatively Speaking Chart

Need to know

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Need to Know Chart


Three things we like...

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Three Things We Like - The speckled plastic trim takes away some of the cabin’s cheaper feeling

The front-end styling is more characterful than before

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Three Things We Like - Sliding rear doors are a massive boon in tighter spaces

Sliding rear doors are a massive boon in tighter spaces

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - Three Things We Like - The speckled plastic trim takes away some of the cabin’s cheaper feeling

The speckled plastic trim takes away some of the cabin’s cheaper feeling

...And one we don't

The Big Test - Citroen Berlingo - 2018 - And One We Don't - Phone cable hangs down from the USB socket and impedes the gear lever horribly

Phone cable hangs down from the USB socket and impedes the gear lever horribly



Drive  7/10

Undramatic but competent, the driving experience sums up the ethos of the Berlingo. The 100hp diesel does need a little workout to make progress though.

Efficiency  8/10

Decent fuel efficiency, given that it is a post-WLTP changes figure of 112g/km and 65.7mpg.

Practicality  10/10

Everything about this car smacks of practicality, from the opening tailgate window and adjustable parcel shelf to the sliding rear doors and cabin stowage space.

Equipment  8/10

Pricing is higher as a result, but the Berlingo’s Flair spec comes with kit other van-derived MPVs don’t offer. Options are well priced too. 

Looks  7/10

The nose is very distinctive and a big difference, but otherwise it’s hard to hide the light van roots.

Comfort and refinement 7/10

It’s not the quietest experience – you can hear both engine and road noise, but it’s nothing dramatic. Ride comfort is good.

Cabin  7/10

The plastics are all generally quite hard, but it all looks pleasant enough. Shame the raised storage area between the front seats is a £250 option; more central storage around the driver would be handy. 

Infotainment  8/10

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard - some premium brands could learn from that.

Whole life costs  7/10

Higher price and middling RVs mean the Berlingo isn’t quite the budget practical option it once was.

CCT opinion  8/10

The Berlingo is a very practical machine that maintains sector  vacated by the car-like mini-MPVs that buyers have moved away from.


It does what you’d expect, and well. Sensible family choices don’t come in a more sensible package, including space, kit and efficiency. But not much raw excitement.