Citroen Berlingo Mk3 (2018-2021) Expert Review
Citroen Berlingo Mk3 (2018-present) Expert Review
Looking for hardy, versatile transport but not looking to break the bank? What you need is a Citroen Berlingo. Sure, it basically a van with windows but its flexible seating, enormous boot, sliding side doors, and alley-oop-tailgate will give you more options than a dodgy city trader. Throw in punchy engines and affordable running costs and you’ll struggle to find a more adept surfs-up adventurer, car boot transporter, or best-in-class Crufts carrier.
- MPV (People carrier)
2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
- Peugeot Rifter
- Skoda Karoq
- Vauxhall Combo Life
What is the Citroen Berlingo Mk3?
The Citroen Berlingo Mk3 is one of the most practical passenger cars you can buy. Although it can’t entirely disguise its commercial routes, Citroen has done a decent job of differentiating the Berlingo from the courier spec van it is based on by referencing the quirky styling cues of its C3 and C5 Aircross SUV line-ups.
The huge windows, lashings of lower-body cladding, punctuated by vibrantly coloured Dali-esk detailing are complemented by matt-black A-pillars and roof rails and a funky double-decker frontal lighting scheme.
How Practical is it?
Regardless of the styling, the biggest quandary the Berlingo poses is how much space and versatility do you really need?
It is available as a five-seater or as an XL seven-seater, so whether you play the part-family, part-delivery van card or simply go down the full-on party bus route, the Berlingo has got you covered.
While the sliding rear door will help you save face when you’ve proudly squeezed into that tightest of parking spots only to remember you still need to get the kids out of the back, the awning sized up-and-over tailgate will play a blinder when it comes to keeping the rain off your barnet when tasked with loading up the weekly ‘how much?’ big shop.
The middle row of three seats will collapse almost completely flat into the floor to free up masses of boot space and the extra rear seats in the seven-seat XL version can be whipped out without too much cursing. Consequently, that old sofa bed which has been eating up space in the spare room for donkey’s years can be whisked off to the recycling centre quicker than you can throw the cushions out of the upstairs window.
The Berlingo also comes with more storage solutions than a Big Yellow Box warehouse. With so many cubby holes, bins, lockers, cup holders, shelves, pockets and glovebox, you’ll need a spreadsheet to keep track of where you stashed all those bells and whistles confiscated from the kids.
The rear parcel shelf is also stiffer than a scaffolder’s plank, so it will double neatly as a nappy changing mat and allow you to wave goodbye to those questionable public changing rooms once and for all.
What’s it Like to Drive?
Given its frontal bluffness, big windscreen and those turbulence-inducing roof rails, there is surprisingly little in the way of wind noise when you’re bowling along in the Berlingo and for such an echoingly dimensioned cabin, road noise is pretty well suppressed, too.
On top of this, the soft-softly suspension soaks up most lumps and bumps pretty effectively, but you will need to employ a ‘steady as she goes’ strategy, as the merest hint of a bend will induce plenty of roly-poly body lean.
The Berlingo is available with a couple of petrol engines but if you’re hauling the family and half a ton of associated bikes, bags and bric-a-brac, you’ll probably want the extra pulling power of a diesel.
Few manufactures make better diesel engines than Citroen, and the Berlingo’s 1.5-litre units with either 98 or 128bhp are no exception. Both are smooth, quiet, and deliver punchy performance, as well as returning excellent fuel consumption.
Technology and Equipment
What else might you find in the Narnia-like interior? There’s a roof light that doubles up as a stowage area – the Modutop – and runs the length of the cabin (handy hint: it is turned off by accessing the settings in the infotainment system, and not by the interior light switches in the roof), plus there are overhead lockers above the boot and pockets for maps, gloves, glasses, face masks and all the clobber found in a family car, above both front seats.
If you opt for the top XTR trim level, most of the Berlingo’s features are controlled through a prominent, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay integration. The mid-range Flair gets a navigation system, while the entry-level Feel has neither.
And finally, the Berlingo scored a four-star safety rating in EuroNCAP crash testing. There are no less than 19 driving assistance systems offered. These range from lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking to a colour head-up display and adaptive cruise control. Check which active driver aids come with the trim level you’re considering, and look out for the optional Drive Assist Pack (a £200 option) which includes traffic sign recognition, a driver attention monitoring system, adaptive headlight beams and an adaptive cruise control system that can bring the Berlingo to a complete stop.
Three Things To Know
- There are two body styles. One, known as M, is 4.4 metres long and offers seating for five. The other, called XL, is 4.75 metres long and comes with an extra pair of seats so there are seven seats in all, which fold into the floor when not needed. With all back seats folded down, the XL version can carry loads that are just over three metres long, so adult-sized bikes would fit without a problem. However, it commands a £2000 premium over an equivalent M.
- For £350, Citroen will add the option of Advanced Grip Control. This is an electronic system that helps the front wheels maintain traction on slippery surfaces, and has been programmed to cope with several different surfaces. You can choose between normal driving conditions, snow and ice, an off-road environment, or the beach.
- For parents, a worthwhile option could be the Family Pack. This is a £100 option on the Berlingo, and provides an extra, wide-angle rear view mirror so you can keep an eye on the children. It also includes blinds on the back windows, and underfloor storage beneath the feet of passengers in the back seats.
Which One to Buy
- If you’re buying on a budget: If you have family responsibilities or if you have a passion for loading up your mountain bikes and heading off for a dirty weekend then you probably want a BlueHdi diesel engine. As well as developing more low and mid-range poke, they will also be a fair bit better on juice than the petrol cars. Given the only things of note missing from Feel trim is electric rear windows and sat nav- does anyone still use built-in sat-nav, especially when there are so many superior phone apps?- you won’t be missing much by sticking with the cheaper basic trim.
- If you intend to restrict your Berlingo to lighter activities: If you are an empty nester or haven’t the remotest intention of climbing every mountain and fording every stream then a 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine will be just the job. Do bear in mind that Berlingo’s petrol engines are 1.2 three-cylinder units, so although they are smooth and quiet at lower revs, they do get quite buzzy and vocal when you work them. They come with either 98 or 128bhp outputs and the higher-powered version is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic, something you may want to consider if you’re a confirmed city dweller.
- If you need all the space you can muster: The seven-seat XL version of the Berlingo is a whopping 35cm longer than the standard car, so if space is a priority then the XL is the one. Once the daily school run is done you can drop off the rearmost seats at the lock-up, before folding the middle row and front passenger seat flat to free up enough space to load a couple of extension ladders and all your associated work gear.
The Citroen Berlingo is built on the same platform as the Vauxhall Combo Life and the Peugeot Rifter and given these manufactures usually sit cheek by jowl on the same trading estates, it is easy to play one off against the other to get the best deal.
That said, because of its versatility and dual-purpose nature, the Berlingo is a sought-after used buy, so don’t go wandering into a dealership expecting a salesperson to beg you to take one of their hands.
Up until very recently, diesel Berlingo’s outsold petrol versions by about 6 to 1, consequently, there are far more used examples to choose from but now that petrol is more in vogue these models command an extra premium.
If you’re not too fussy about colour or spec then you will be able to pick up a very smart five-seat diesel Berlingo with well under 20K on the clock for around £14K. Generally speaking, 7-seat versions command the thick-end of £1k more than their five-seat siblings.
According to the latest WLTP testing figures, petrol versions of the Berlingo are pretty economical with a combined fuel economy figures of 45.8 mpg for the 108bhp unit and 43.7 mpg for the punchier 128bhp version. Obviously, achieving these figures will depend on how much weight you haul around but and how much force you lever into the accelerator pedal. The fuel consumption figures of three-cylinder petrol engines are known to be significantly affected by high throttle demands, so a considered driving style is required to get the best fuel returns out of them.
The basic versions of the 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel engines are claimed to achieve fuel returns in the fifties and with a 50-litre tank on board, once settle into a motorway cruise, they are capable of significant mileages between fill-ups.
The Berlingo is the absolute antithesis of a 'lad’s' motor, so it’s no surprise that insurance costs reflect this. Group ratings start from as low as 10 for the least powerful petrol version in entry-level Flair trim, topping out at 14 for the most powerful BlueHDi models.
Given it is based on a commercial van and given those types of vehicles need to be super sturdy and super-efficient all bodes well for the Berlingo.
In terms of warranty, you get the usual three-year/60,000-mile arrangement from when the vehicle is new, which, with one or two notable exceptions is the same as most manufacturers.
Service intervals are every 12,000 or every 12 months and because the Berlingo is a pretty basic machine this shouldn’t cost you a fortune. You can also take the sting out of paying in one hit by signing up to a staggered payment plan, which should cost you in the region of £16 per month. This will cover the usual health checks as well as fluid and filter changes but not consumables such as tyres and brake pads.
The Berlingo has undergone a couple of relatively minor recalls and these only affect a small number of vehicles. One such recall concerned a handbrake component that could fail and another which was for diesel-engined models regarding potential damage to the particulate filter in the exhaust system.
The Berlingo hasn’t appeared in any customer satisfaction surveys, but Citroen does and it’s not particularly great news. In the 2019 Driver Power survey, the company finished 24th out of 30 brands, although in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, Citroen did do better finish16th out of 31 manufacturers surveyed.
The CarGurus Verdict
The Berlingo does a very impressive job of disguising its boxy, humble roots, both in the way it looks and in the way it drives.
As well as being comfortable and surprisingly quiet, its muscular engines are able to pull some pretty substantial loads with very little drama and when driven solo things pop along at a very smiley rate.
Above all, the Berlingo offers endless practicality and myriad clever storage solutions, which will prove especially useful for anyone trying to juggle family needs and self-employed work requirements.
Citroen is always happy to talk discounts and if you factor this into your buying equation you can have a Berlingo standing on your drive for about the same sort of money as a Ford Fiesta. If you think about it, that is an astounding amount of metal for your money.