I’ve done plenty of long-haul trips like this in ‘normal’ cars. If you’re sat in the back of one of those and taller than six foot, you’ll know how incredibly uncomfortable it can be – your knees end up raised closer to your ears than your feet, so all your weight sits on your pelvis instead of being distributed to your thighs. While you can’t adjust the Berlingo’s rear bench for leg room, there’s no real need to – there’s ample space back there for three sets of adult-sized heads and legs, without any complaining after 500 miles from London to Scotland.
The only issue we encountered was shutting those rear doors once you’re buckled up. While they’re incredibly practical for loading, they are quite hefty, and rather stiff to close while sat inside. It can be a bit of a stretch for smaller arms to reach the handle, too.
The real hero was the Modutop optional overhead storage bin, which is perfect for storing the essentials within easy reach while freeing up space in the cabin. On our long run up north it meant not having to pull over to rescue lunch from the boot, saving precious time when we had a ferry to catch.
Once we’d made it off the mainland, Citroën’s built-in navigation stopped getting around the Hebrides from becoming a chore. It lets you toggle certain points of interest – say camping grounds, tourist attractions, fuel stations and, usefully, ferry terminals. Being able to spot an opportunity to fill up wasn’t to be sniffed at, either, given how few and far between petrol stations were.
The Berlingo isn’t the most serene of motorway cruisers, with an upright front end and huge, van-style mirrors that don’t exactly carve the air smoothly. But while wind noise is unavoidable, it’s not like you have to crank the stereo to drown it out, or raise your voice just to have a conversation. It rides impressively well over bumps and broken Tarmac, too, given its sheer size and weight.
I’d worried an endurance drive like this would put me off long-distance journeys, but it’s done the opposite. Even after more than 1000 miles travelled and showers limited to any waterfalls we could find, everyone felt reasonably fresh by the end of the week.
Believe every TV ad you see and you’d think a 4x4 is the best way to fulfil any kind of outdoor pursuit. For me, the Berlingo feels like a more practical option. I rarely need to drive off road – the car just needs to get you to the National Trust car park and then the adventure starts on foot. Until the weather turns and proves otherwise, I’ll happily take the Citroën’s extra cabin space over an extra diff or higher ground clearance.