Citroen Berlingo Multispace

 

By Tim Saunders

When I was young I lusted after the Matra Rancho (1977 to 1984), probably the first leisure activity vehicle, inspired by Range Rover – Kim Basinger came later for me.

 

Driving the Citroen Berlingo Multispace has reignited those memories as it looks similar, if taller than the Rancho. At first glance the Pope-mobile styled design is not my typical choice of transport. However, it is a family-friendly people mover and a true multi-purpose vehicle - the perfect option for taking my wife, her parents and our baby daughter on a family trip to London. The sliding rear doors are particularly easy to operate and are great for car parks where there’s never enough room to open a normal car door properly without bashing the vehicle next to you. For this reason strapping Harriett (our daughter) into her baby seat in the Berlingo is so much easier than usual.

The Citroen’s boot makes light work of our luggage consisting of numerous bags and a pushchair. It’s a marvellous family vehicle with plenty of cubby holes throughout as well as helpful overhead storage above the boot as you can see from the video at testdrives.biz. And there’s a high driving position, too. While at first the seats seem pretty comfortable, over a long journey they could be more supportive.

During our motorway jaunt Caroline’s mum wants to get something from the boot and I am fully expecting to have to stop but she discovers that the boot cover can be lifted from inside. The designers have really thought about the design of this vehicle.

Inside, occupants are treated to a spacious and snazzy interior with a dash of blue on the fabrics, complimenting the door trims and giving a bright and bubbly feel, which is so often lacking in the clinical interiors of today. The dashboard is both user-friendly and funky. Copious amounts of glass ensure that it’s light and airy inside.

The handbrake is right next to the driver’s seat, a bit too close for comfort but you get used to it after a while. Its gutsy 1.6-litre, 90bhp diesel can cover over 600 miles with its 60 litre tank. While the five-speed box is perfectly adequate I do wonder whether a sixth gear might further improve economy.

Rear passengers get their own roof mounted air vents and fan control. During a balmy summer’s day the air conditioning makes for a much more pleasant environment.

From the outside the Berlingo Multispace is surprisingly compact when you consider the vast expanse of room inside. The mammoth tailgate makes a great shelter from the rain – in fact it is easy to imagine sitting on the edge of the boot and having a civilised picnic, with table, all under cover. The downside is that the driver has to remember to leave space behind them in order to access the boot, making roadside parking an issue.

When driving, it does feel a little remote and cumbersome, particularly on manoeuvring to overtake. When the driver looks over their right shoulder, to check all is clear, their vision is impeded by the centre pillar, so extra care is required. There’s no cruise control for motorway travelling either. And if fifth gear is engaged at 30mph the vehicle shudders, resulting in a rattle from the dash.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “Spacious, practical and brimming with family-friendly features, the Berlingo Multispace is a five-seat people carrier for buyers on a budget. It sits between the cheaper Xsara Picasso and stylish C4 Picasso in the Citroen range but, unlike its predecessor, is no longer based on a van. Instead it uses car underpinnings, is comfortable and surprisingly good to drive as a result.”

Similar to variants from both Fiat and Peugeot, which are also unconventionally styled, these vehicles are popular with families but the Citroen is particularly so because of its incredibly well-designed interior, keen price and strong economy.

Citroen Berlingo Multispace VTR HDi 90

 

New price range: £12,795 - £16,795

 

Top speed: 102mph

 

Power: 90bhp

0-60mph: 14.3secs

Road tax: £120 a year

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