Fleet News

Citroen Berlingo Multispace HDi - 4,299 miles



IT has to be said that the Citroen Berlingo Multispace has not exactly been the most popular car on our test fleet since it arrived in February.

The problem is that most of our testers are young, unmarried and upwardly mobile and they do not look kindly on the prospect of driving what is essentially a van in car clothing.

OK, I know that this car won't do much for my street cred but with a baby in the house and a reasonably varied lifestyle, I can't think of a more practical vehicle to drive.

The basic price is £10,750, although our test model is loaded to the gills with extras which bring it up to just over £13,000.

For this price, you get everything but the kitchen sink, including air conditioning, ABS brakes and much more. But everything about this vehicle screams practicality. There are, for instance, lots of handy cubby holes for coffee cups and cola bottles and a detachable pot with a lid can be used as an ashtray and placed in any of the cup holder slots.

There are several 12-volt power outlets, including two in the rear Modutop – handy for powering kids' games or DVD players.

There is a handy fold-out shopping trolley attached to the rear side panel which has a maximum capacity of 18kg. The list goes on and on. But the Berlingo's practicality goes further than this. Fold down the rear seats and you are left with a larger load area than you'll find in the average estate car, thanks to the Berlingo's massive height. This space is big enough to hold bicycles or anything else you might throw at it, but the downside is the huge tailgate which requires a relatively large amount of space behind it to open fully.

Traditional twin doors, as seen on most vans, would be more useful but then again they would emphasise the car's van heritage even more. On the road, the Berlingo is surprisingly agile for a vehicle with obvious commercial roots.

The 2.0-litre common rail diesel powerplant is a lusty performer and apart from a few seconds rattle on start-up in the mornings, you'd hardly know it was a diesel. The Berlingo doesn't exactly look like the ideal vehicle to choose for long journeys but once again it comes up trumps.

A long drive from Northants to a meeting in Hampshire turned out to be a comfortable journey, even taking in the inevitable hold-ups on the M25.

Those front seat armrests are a boon and rear seat passengers will no doubt find the fold-out aircraft style tables useful.

One advantage of driving a commercial vehicle which might not be appreciated by some is the fact that it is likely to be built to a more robust standard than the average car.

Therefore I wouldn't mind betting that in 15 years' time, this vehicle will still be happily tootling around on the roads giving sterling service to whoever might own it.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer): £43 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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