Why we ran it: To see if the funky van-based MPV can recapture the simplicity, practicality and flexibility of the original
Life with a Citroen Berlingo: Month 6
Was this MPV as easy to live with as its ability to rack up miles would suggest? - 26 February 2020
There was never going to be a good time to hand back the keys to our Berlingo, was there? This humble MPV or, as Citroën likes to call it, leisure activity vehicle has slotted into my life more smoothly than any other long-term test car I can remember. And not just because of how easily it swallows the numerous flight cases and camera bags that I need to lug up and down the country for my job.
Over the course of almost 18,000 miles, it has shattered my preconceptions of van-based people carriers and proved just how car-like the driving experience can be when you aren’t making use of its cavernous rear stowage. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that it shares a platform with the Vauxhall Grandland X, Peugeot 5008 and DS 7 Crossback, but take one look at those boxy dimensions and it’s all too easy to jump to conclusions.
That’s certainly what my friends did when I bundled them into the back for a camping trip to Scotland. Claims it was nothing more than “a van with windows” that had “a whiff of Motability about it” were quickly silenced once it became clear that no-one was going to have to last 500 miles with a rucksack on his or her lap. The Modutop roof-mounted internal stowage isn’t perfect, with its translucent plastic looking a bit messy once you’ve loaded it with various bits and bobs, but it’s a genuinely clever storage option that puts most of your kit within quick reach. Plus, it creates an aircraft cabin vibe, which I really like. With the economical 1.5-litre diesel engine nudging 50mpg on a cruise, the trip was fairly light on my wallet as well.
From that point, it was regularly called into action for weekends away doing the kinds of ‘lifestyle activity’ that you see in all the brochures. The splashes of orange trim added by the XTR customisation pack certainly helped what could otherwise be considered a fairly innocuous car to stand out. Less picturesque were the trips that ended up as washouts, but I did at least discover that the tailgate doubles as a very effective umbrella.