Citroen has unveiled its third-generation Berlingo van in Europe, transforming its small workhorse from a utilitarian appliance into a style-led lifestyle vehicle packed with colourful and expressive features.
While previous versions of the Berlingo are better known in Australia as stripped-out light-duty delivery vans that compete with vehicles like the Volkswagen Caddy and Renault Kangoo, Citroen’s initial preview of the new model focuses on the family friendly people mover variant.
With the French firm having discontinued small MPVs like the C3 Picasso in favour of SUVs such as the C3 Aircross, the Berlingo now serves a more significant role in serving Europe’s still significant (though shrinking) compact people mover market.
The new-generation Berlino moves to Citroen's parent company, Group PSA’s EMP2 chassis, which already underpins models like the Peugeot 308 hatch and 3008 SUV, Citroen C5 Aircross SUV, and Opel Grandland X SUV.
From the outside the 2018 Citroen Berlingo is immediately identifiable thanks to a bold new front end that follows the styling direction set by cars like the C1 and C3 light hatches, blacked-out A-Pillar, and the use of Citroen’s AirBump body protection on the front bumper and body sides.
Carry over styling themes from the outgoing model include a tapered B-pillar with a prominent wide base and an irregular heptagonal side window profile with a leading-lower and trailing-upper edge chamfer.
European customers will have a choice of five engine outputs including two 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol units rated at 80kW and 95kW and three 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesels with 55kW, 74kW or 95kW mated to either a five- or six-speed manual or a new eight-speed automatic transmission depending on the variant.
Two body lengths will be available with either a 4.4 metre long M size or 4.75 metre long XL version.
Interior tech steps up for the segment with the availability of wireless smartphone charging, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit incorporating 3D navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, an electric park brake, and a compact gear-selector dial.
On the safety and convenience front the Berlingo adds available grip-control all-road traction control, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, active lane departure warning, colour head-up display, driver fatigue monitoring, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beam, and semi-autonomous self-parking.
In keeping with the Citroen Advanced Comfort ethos that’s set to spread across the brand’s future model the new Berlingo features “optimal ride comfort” via specifically-tuned suspension setting, acoustic isolation for a quieter cabin, and wider seats.
To give the new Berlingo a surprisingly premium edge the new version can also be optioned with a Modutop multifunction panoramic glass roof which also adds a 92 litre roof-mounted storage console, opening tailgate window and an unusual 60-litre translucent arch that runs the length of the cabin and can carry up to 10kg,
Following the lead set by the C4 Cactus the Berlingo also features an upper and lower glovebox pair ahead of the front passenger, with the airbag moved to the roof.
Passenger versions feature three individual rear seats that can be folded flat in the second row with additional sliding functionality in XL versions. The third row features two removable seats, and the front passenger seat is also available with fold-flat functionality.
Citroen has yet to detail its commercial versions of the new Berlingo though it’s expected that a more basic features list and less of the passenger model’s contrasting colour highlights will be made available for workhorse versions. The new Berlingo will also provide the basis for a new version of the Peugeot Partner and Opel Combo vans
Citroen Australia's national PR manager told TMR that "no commercial version has been announced" yet, meaning launch timing for the work van variants could still be some way off. As with the current generation though, Citroen was not considering adding the passenger model locally.
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