When Citro?n first launched its Berlingo van in Australia in 1999, the little load lugger was praised for melding car-like comfort and light commercial versatility.
Since hitting our fair shores, the Berlingo has encouraged a raft of imitators. To keep ahead of the pack, Citro?n went back to the drawing board and has now come up with an all-new model.
According to Citro?n, it has listened closely to the needs of its customers to create a new vehicle that offers even greater levels of comfort, versatility and practicality. (Don't rely on that though, until you've read the road test.)
The new Berlingo comes with a choice of 1.6 litre petrol or diesel engines, both putting out 66 kW (88hp).
Based on the larger C4 picasso underpinnings, the Berlingo comes in two wheelbase lengths with increased carrying capacity.
In short wheelbase guise, the Berlingo offers 3.3 cubic metres of cargo space. A fold-flat passenger seat extends this capacity to 3.7 cubic metres.
Long wheelbase versions increase capacity to 4.7 cubic meters with the front seat folded.
Inside the cabin, Citro?n has filled the passenger compartment with useful solutions. A large tray above the occupants, a driver?s side glovebox behind the instrument cluster and a storage box between the front seats take care of oddments storage. Plus, for lunch on the run, a takeaway hook helps keep your lunch where it should be.
In the cargo bay both long and short wheelbase versions can accommodate two ISO pallets. Carry capacity for the short version is up slightly over its predecessor to 850 kg while the long van can carry up to 750 kg.
To aid loading and unloading, the rear of the van features asymmetrically-split twin doors which open through 177 degrees to allow close access or forlift loading.
Inside, the cargo bay is fully lined to waist height to prevent damage, while a ladder frame barrier behind the driver helps prevent intrusion from shifting loads.
On the outside, the clean-sheet design of the Berlingo brings a fresh new look. Because of the unique sheetmetal of the Berlingo, the demands of a commercial vehicle can be met without the compromises of adapting an existing passenger car.
High placement of the front and rear lights keeps them out of harm's way. Chunky, robust bumpers bumpers are also designed to minimise potential damage.
For the comfort of occupants putting in long days behind the wheel, extra attention has also been paid to keeping wind noise to a minimum.
Standard equipment includes a trip computer, air conditioning, remote central locking, power windows and mirrors and an MP3-compatible CD player.
Optional equipment extends to Bluetooth phone connectivity, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers, tyre pressure sensors, ESP stability control, as well as passenger and side airbags to complement the standard drivers side airbag.
To keep operating costs in check, Citro?n has fitted a long-life timing belt to the 1.6 litre HDi diesel engine. Service intervals for the belt are set at 200,000 km or ten years before requiring replacement.
The Berlingo is priced from $22,900 for the short wheelbase 1.6 litre petrol, up to $26,490 for the long wheelbase 1.6 HDi turodiesel.
In addition to the new Berlingo, the original Berlingo van will remain available. Dubbed the Berlingo First, it's priced from just $17,990. We'll be pleased to report once we've driven it.