A little over two decades and 1.7 million vehicles ago, Citroën invented a brand new class of affordable van-based MPV called Berlingo.
It was compact, simple and flexible, designed to utilise plentiful small hatch components to control cost and complexity while having so much cabin space that it outshone all other forms of family car.
Pretty soon everyone had something like it, with two sliding rear doors, five spacious seats and a huge rectangular prism of carrying space in the rear capable of swallowing a mighty stash of family luggage and a kitchen sink as well. It became so successful that there have only been two iterations in 22 years.
Now, the third-generation Berlingo is upon us in two versions: a familiarly sized 4.4-metre, five-seat model and a new seven-seat version that's 35cm longer. It shares a platform with two other PSA Group siblings, the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life.
Best news for Berlingo lovers is that, with this thoroughly modern product, Citroën has deliberately moved to recapture the look and spirit of the admired original, admitting in private that the second-gen car, while successful, wasn’t its best design work.
What Berlingo models are heading to the UK?
Production of the new model is already in full swing in Spain and Portugal for first deliveries in August or September. Hacks were allowed a first drive in the car predicted to be the UK’s best seller: the five-seater Berlingo Flair, powered by a 109bhp version of PSA Group’s already-ubiquitous Puretech 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Also offered in the UK will be several versions of PSA’s new and efficient 1.5-litre four-pot diesel, the most enticing of which, the 128bhp option, we were also allowed briefly to drive, equipped with an eight-speed Aisin automatic 'box.
Equipment is impressively dense in any new UK Berlingo — even the Feel model that opens the UK range, starting at around £19,000 for the lowest-spec 75bhp diesel and reaching £25,000 for the best-equipped diesel auto. (The French, who buy poverty models more readily than we do, can get a stripped-out entry-level model called Touch).
The top-end Flair we drove — with options — had equipment almost worthy of a luxury saloon; an 8.0in central screen, dual-zone climate control, a head-up instrument display, a 360deg manoeuvring camera, top-spec interactive navigation, sophisticated connectivity on four different levels, complete with wireless smartphone charging, and a so-called Modutop system consisting of panoramic glass roof panels - plus all manner of shelves, gadget compartments and a kind of light show above occupants’ heads.