First impressions were that it was obviously for those who valued function rather than style. While the recent changes have done much to make the Berlingo more car than van – in reshaping the front end in particular – the overpowering impression is one of a box.
But like I've said, this is about what it can do for you rather than what it will say about you. It is inside that the car shows its true colours. It is chock-full of storage compartments of all sizes, particularly in the back where as a passenger the most fun can be had. I even knelt on one of the seats to get a look at the storage space in the roof.
The driving position is good, providing comfort – boosted by driver and passenger armrests – and excellent all-round visibility, particularly to the rear with the large side mirrors.
Unfortunately, first impressions have not proved lasting. I became aware of a couple of niggles in my fortnight of driving the Berlingo that culminated in a dangerous fault that left the car with the Peterborough Citroen dealership, Borocars.
First there was the buzzing that could be heard when the stereo was on. I wasn't able to track down the source, but believe it could have come from the left-hand dash-mounted speaker.
The second, while not a fault, proved a little annoying – the clank of the automatic doorlock mechanism, which activates when you set off, will frighten the life out of you the first time you hear it and have you running round the car to see which part just fell off. And it doesn't get more soothing after the fifteenth time either.
What left the Berlingo beleaguered is a problem with the left-hand indicator stalk, a fault that has seen a number of alarming consequences. Indicating right would see the main beam come on or the lights switch on or off. Putting on the sidelights saw the right-hand indicator go on.
And then, finally, what had me booking the car into Borocars as soon as I could, was that the indicators would not go off unless I kept my finger pushed against the stalk slightly forward.
This all adds up to a headache probably beyond the seriousness of the fault. I take heart, however, from the speed with which Citroen reacted to the problem. I left the Berlingo at the dealership on Saturday. On Tuesday the car was ready to take away, even though the service department was not open at the weekend. 'A part had come loose,' I was told by Citroen UK. 'A common problem,' said a staff member at the dealership. 'Oh dear,' I said.
We hope that will be the end of the niggles and look forward to a trouble-free remaining run at Fleet Towers.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer): £43 per month