Citroën Berlingo Multispace MPV (2008-2018)
"The Citroen Berlingo Multispace won’t win any design or performance awards, but it’s a hugely practical and very affordable MPV"
- Excellent interior space
- Good value for money
- Huge boot
- Ungainly looks
- Not fun to drive
- Noisy at high speeds
The Citroen Berlingo Multispace makes no bones about the fact that it's based on a van. In fact, though, its unglamorous origins make it all the more suited to a busy, active life. Its cheif rivals are the Fiat Doblo and Peugeot Partner Teepee, both of which also have commercial vehicle origins.
Cars like these represent a real 'back to basics' approach to motoring, which will hit the nail right on the head for many active families. Their boxy shape means loads of space for passengers and their luggage, and they're inevitably affordable to buy, too. Better still, they've been proven by thousands of commercial users, for whom economy and dependability are of paramount importance.
The Berlingo Multispace will seat seven, or carry bulky loads if the third seating row is folded away. The inside environment might not match conventional MPVs like the Citroen C4 Picasso for quality and style, but it's robust and easy to use. And it can't be forgotten that it's priced to compete against far smaller MPVs like the Hyundai ix20 or Kia Venga.
Citroen offers a choice of two petrol engines and a 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel with either 99 or 118bhp in the Berlingo. The first petrol is a somewhat dated 1.6-litre VTi, with 96bhp and fuel economy of just 44mpg. The PureTech 110 with 109bhp is far more advanced and manages 55.4mpg, with CO2 emissions 31g/km lower, at 119g/km.
The entry-level diesel manages 65.7mpg with a manual gearbox, or 67.3mpg if you plump for the automatic, which also adds stop-start technology. Doing so also blunts performance, however, with 0-62mph taking a lethargic 14.3 seconds instead of 12.4. The top BlueHDi 120 still manages 64.2mpg and manages the 0-62mph dash to 11.4 seconds, but a price tag of more than £20,000 with this engine undermines the car’s affordable appeal.
It may depend on what you’re used to driving, but the Berlingo Multispace is likely to surprise many potential buyers with the neat way it handles. Most bumps are soaked up without sending shudders through the cabin and body lean isn’t exaggerated through most corners. It shows its origins most readily on the motorway, where its tall roof, open cabin and minimal sound deadening could require raised voices between passengers.
While the Berlingo’s interior trim might be disappointing, its sliding side doors give fantastic access and legroom and headroom are in a different league to most vehicles. In five-seat guise, the boot is also very large, but it shrinks if the optional third row is fitted. Throughout the cabin, there are places to store things, including airliner-style ceiling storage.
There are just two trim levels; Feel and Flair, and the entry-level Feel gets air-conditioning and a Bluetooth connection. Step up to Flair and it includes the third row of seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, remote central locking, front electric windows, overhead storage, roof bars and a tailgate with an opening rear window to quickly load smaller items.
While many will be able to look past the Citroen’s van-based dashboard, for some a three-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating will be far more off-putting. Not only did the Berlingo Multispace score badly for safety technology (48%), it could only manage 56% for adult occupant protection. Reliability is also underwhelming, with an 87th-place result in that category of our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
It won't dazzle anybody with style and it's far from the most opulent way to carry such a large family, but if you want a car that shrugs off family wear and tear and simply gets the job done, the Berlingo Multispace could be the tool for the task.