Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Petrol and diesels to begin with
  • Electrification set to follow by 2020
  • Adequate, relaxed pace on offer

Nothing about the way the Citroen Berlingo looks screams performance, and sensibly the French marque has pegged power outputs to be sufficient rather than speedy.

Petrol- and diesel-engined Berlingos could be ordered from summer 2018, with deliveries beginning in the autumn for many, although some certain engine/gearbox combinations were quietly discontinued in 2019.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) Berlingos are expected, but are unlikely before 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Petrol-powered choice

Two versions of the excellent three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbocharged PureTech were announched back in 2018, but ultimately only one ended up reaching the UK.

Beige 2018 Citroen Berlingo MPV side elevation driving

That version, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, is the PureTech 110 enabling the Berlingo to easily keep up with traffic on motorways and accelerating away with sufficient briskness away standing starts at junctions. Top speed is 109mph, although a 0-62mph acceleration time is yet to be announced.

It both sounds and feels refined, pulling strongly providing you’re in the right gear – flooring the throttle from low revs in sixth gear will see you gain momentum at a leisurely rate. The transmission itself is has a smooth shift action, albeit with a somewhat rubbery feel – it doesn’t feel as slick as you’d experience in a Ford and VW alternative.

Topping the petrol offerings was set to be the PureTech 130 with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although deliveries were penciled-in for mid-2019, they never began.

Popular diesels

Originally there were four engine-transmission combinations if you want a diesel Berlingo, all of which are based around the four-cylinder 1.5-litre BlueHDi motor.

Entry-point to the range was the BlueHDi 75, fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox, but this unpopular option was discontinued during 2019. Its modest output of 75hp reaches its peak at 3,500rpm resulting in a top speed of 95mph, while maximum torque of 230Nm is available at 1,750rpm.

Making a better fist of things is the BlueHDi 100, thanks to being that bit more powerful with only a negligible fall in overall efficiency. Peak power of 101hp is again developed at 3,500rpm resulting in a 109mph top speed, while maximum torque of 254Nm is sent to the front wheels at 1,750rpm. In Berlingo M guise its 0-62mph time is 12.3 seconds, 12.9 if you go for the XL.

2018 Citroen Berlingo MPV standard dashboard

However, we’d recommend spending a little extra for the BlueHDi 130 versions, with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a refined, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic, with a rotary selector rather than a conventional lever.

The manual has a 116mph top speed courtesy of its 129hp output at 3,750rpm, with the auto slightly lower at 114mph. Peak torque of 300Nm at 1,750rpm ensures acceleration isn’t tardy; the manual posts figures of 10.3 (M) and 10.7 (XL) seconds for the 0-62mph time, the automatic 11.0 and 11.5 seconds, respectively.

In both urban and motorway conditions, the diesel engine sounds refined, with surprisingly little audible clatter from the cabin, and a linear rate of acceleration when fitted with the eight-speed automatic. It’s an appealing combination, but its price is on the high side.

Not only does it feel relaxed, the transmission quickly selects the most appropriate ratio with barely any discernable hesitation, making it especially smooth at speed. It's more laboured at urban speeds, occasionally feeling jerky when the stop-start system kicks-in. You can select the ratios manually using the artificial-feeling steering wheel-mounted paddles, but overall it’s best left to its own devices.

Advanced Grip Control

We've yet to drive a Berlingo with Advanced Grip Control, but the system has proved effective on other PSA cars fitted with the system.

Essentially it’s a sophisticated traction control system that meters power and torque to the front wheels in specific ways to maximise traction on surfaces such as ice, mud and sand.

Largely, you’ll keep it in the default mode for highway driving.

Unexciting handling is fine by us

  • Fine levels of traction, little bodyroll
  • Steering on the light side
  • Won’t sate enthusiastic drivers

Citroen hasn’t lost sight of the fact that the primary function for the Berlingo is to ferry passengers and their clutter around comfortably, which is why you’re unlikely to find an orderly queue of driving enthusiasts desperate to have a go in one.

That’s not to say that the Berlingo handles badly – far from it. In fact, for a high-sided, van-based car, it’s neat and tidy around corners, with pleasingly little bodyroll.

Beige 2018 Citroen Berlingo MPV rear three-quarter driving

Press on through bends and you’ll eventually hear the tyres beginning to work a little harder for adhesion, but there are no dramas and in the main it will maintain a line around curves exactly as you’d intended. You’d need to be driving it highly inappropriately to make it push too wide in corners.

There’s not a huge amount of feel through the steering communicating what’s going on with the front wheels, bit it weights up sufficiently at speed. Other controls, such as the manual gearlever and pedals, feel light for a car of this size, but it makes it all the easier to use.

Overall, the Berlingo’s set up to encourage you to drive it in a relaxed, progressive manner – which is perfectly appropriate for a car of this type.