A recent holiday to the north Norfolk coast for three adults and the dog Jim entailed much transporting of gear and English weather being what it is, we could not leave behind the waterproof coats, warm jumpers and wellingtons. All this gear, plus the caged Jack Russell, packed neatly into the Berlingo's voluminous rear.
On this trip, I discovered the most useful storage space of all – in the roof. Rather than carrying around jackets and rucksacks, or leaving them on display (which is never a good idea), they all stashed away in this incredibly useful space. The Berlingo also has other brilliant storage areas. We kept a bottle full of water over the passenger screen visor and maps in the roof space between the front seats.
Some of the previous testers have criticised this car for being underpowered but I found the 2.0-litre common rail diesel unit fine for pottering around the Norfolk lanes. And through the whole two weeks, the car used only one tank of fuel. Very economical.
Nor did I find body roll affecting it quite so much on country roads. Perhaps it was weighed down with enough kit to minimise the effect.
However, I did get a couple of negative comments from rear seat passenger. These are not seats to stretch out and have a snooze in. They are more of the 'sit up and beg' variety and the doors are a bit awkward and need a hefty slam to close.
And I'm afraid to report a constant irritant – the oddly shaped fuel cap which is the devil itself to open and close. How embarrassing to have a queue of cars behind you at the pump while you are fighting to wiggle the cap to exactly the right angle to enable locking. It's extremely frustrating.
Our test vehicle represents excellent value for money at £13,260. It's well worth spending the extra to get the extras. With all the windows and skylights, of which there are three – air conditioning really is essential.
And the Berlingo Multispace range has now been expanded further. If we were selecting our car now, there would be no change to the on-the-road price. However, a new Desire model has been introduced with the comfort pack, Modutop roof storage and CD player as standard.
Add all the options to our test car now and the price would be reduced to £13,150.
Although people driven by style and image might not give the Berlingo Multispace a second glance, it will always appeal to more practical types. Jane Ward
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer): £43 per month