WINNING THE SPACE RACE
Kitchen sink motoring comes easily to us Brits. Most weekends you can see families out and about with their cars, loaded up to the limits with kids and kit. Packed inside there may well be a maelstrom of bikes, dogs, a haul of DIY purchases, half the contents of the local garden centre, lush pickings from a car boot sale, a wardrobe’s worth of clothes for the charity shop or household de-cluttering bound for the tip. The best kind of car to carry it all and survive the scuffs and skirmishes of a family on the move is a kind of automotive tote bag. It needs to be roomy and practical, with an engine tough enough to lug a lot of stuff around.
Well here it is, the van-based, but car-biased Citroën Berlingo Multispace. Anyone put off by its van roots really shouldn’t be. Underneath the workmanlike exterior, it has the same respected platform as the latest C4 Picasso and Peugeot 308. Compared with the previous Berlingo Multispace, this new one has a longer wheelbase, much improved dynamics, bigger rear windows and upgraded internal stowage. It also has a twin sister model in Peugeot’s recently launched Partner Tepee. The diesel engines offered in the new Berlingo Multispace are the excellent PSA 1.6 HDi in a choice of three power outputs: 75bhp, 90bhp or 110bhp. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and there are three trim levels: VT, VTR and XTR. With the XTR you get a pumped-up package with slightly raised suspension, underbody protection and extra styling details. But its beefier looks are deceptive and the XTR is not four-wheel-drive, as some suspect. Like the rest of the range it is frontwheel- drive.
You sit fairly high in the Berlingo Multispace. It is friendly, if not exactly exciting to drive, with good all-round visibility and a competent feel. The 110bhp turbodiesel is definitely the best engine, as the lower-output ones make the car feel a bit underpowered. The five-speed gearbox does the job, but I found myself fishing for a sixth cog if only to quieten down engine noise at cruising speed. The ride is reasonably supple and the cornering quality is good, although if you go quickly into a tight bend you suddenly become aware that this is a relatively tall vehicle.
Now that the new Berlingo Multispace has arrived, the old one has been given a temporary reprieve from extinction and will stay in the Citroën range – for now at least – re-badged as the Berlingo First, with a lower spec and cheaper price than its more sophisticated replacement.
RIVALS: Fiat Dobló, Peuge ot Partner Tepee , Renault Kangoo
- Engine: 1560cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 109bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 177lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,300kg
- Combined Consumption: 50.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 147g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 12.5secs
- Max speed: 105mph
- Insurance Group: 5