High payloads and high-tech kit, but cramped behind the wheel
- Competitively priced
- Appealing engines
- Low running costs
- High payload ratings
- Three body lengths
- Dark and cramped cabin
- Offset driving position
- Poor visibility
- Limited in-cab storage
- Style over substance?
This 2021 Citroen Dispatch review covers the third-generation model, launched in 2016. Completely redesigned from the ground up and based on the Efficient Modular Platform 2 (EMP2) that also underpins the latest Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and 2019 Vauxhall Vivaro, this is a modern medium van that's good to drive and has very high payload ratings
It also offers an impressive selection of technology and attractive fuel economy. We voted it runner up in our 2020 and 2021 Parkers Medium Van of the Year Award .
But despite a choice of three body lengths it doesn't have the largest load space, and the cab is outdone by the best rivals.
What's new for the 2021 Citroen Dispatch?
We're not expecting any major changes to the main Dispatch range - although at five years old it may soon be approaching a mid-life refresh this has not yet been confiirmed.
More significant is the intorduction of the Citroen e-Dispatch electric van, which was launched in late 2020. With an impressive driving range and high payload ratings, expect to start seeing these quite regularly in 2021. There's more on this below.
Disappointing cab interior
The Dispatch and its closely related cousins all suffer from a cab that is quite cramped, claustrophobic and lacking in storage space, while the level of fit-and-finish trails behind the VW Transporter and the Ford Transit Custom.
The driving position on right-hand drive models is also noticeably offset, which is a travesty for a modern van.
Citroen Dispatch variants
Unusually, the Citroen Dispatch is available in a choice of three body lengths, including a super-short version. A load-through bulkhead - called Moduwork - and folding passenger seat extends the space available for transporting longer skinny items such as pipes and planks.
In addition to the panel vans, crew van models and a platform cab suitable for conversions are also available.
Unlike the previous model, there is only one roof height. This has been deliberately made low enough to take the stress out of accessing car parks, though obviously restricts the size for stuff you can put inside.
For full details of load area and payload see our dedicated Citroen Dispatch Dimensions page.
Citroen Dispatch trim levels
The Dispatch launched with a choice of three trim levels: X, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus (really just an extension of Enterprise, as this suggests).
From May 2019 production the range expands to also include Worker and Driver variants - see below for details.
Citroen Dispatch engine choice
At launch Citroen offered a choice of five power outputs spread across revised versions of the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre BlueHDI engines fitted in the previous model.
May 2019 production onwards saw the 1.6 replaced by a more modern 1.5-litre unit that meets the latest Euro 6d-Temp (or Euro 6.2) emissions regulations; updated 2.0-litre motors that also comply with these regs were introduced at the same time.
For 2019 Citroen not only modified the engine line-up for the Dispatch and added two new trim levels, it also began fitting an emergency assistant package called the Citroen Connect Box as standard equipment across the whole range.
At the same time, the range-topping 180hp engine ditches its original six-speed automatic gearbox for a new EAT8 eight-speed auto, improving performance and efficiency.
An all-electric version called the e-Dispatch went on sale in late 2020, offering a claimed driving range of over 200 miles.
Together with substantial payload ratings and attractive pricing - thanks in part to the choice of two battery sizes - this and the closely related Peugeot e-Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro-e are set to become gamechangers for the electric van market.
Citroen Dispatch verdict
This is a modern van that's comparatively inexpensive to buy, should prove cheap to run and offers very impressive payload ratings.
Raid the options list, and you can also kit it out with an excellent range of safety equipment and some interesting toys - including powered doors that can be opened by waving your foot under the bumper and a head-up display.
Shame that the cabin isn't more inviting, but if you're looking for a good amount of bang for your buck, the Dispatch is well worth consideration.
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- Comfortable and refined to drive
- Little in the way of unpleasant body roll in the corners
- Engines provide plenty of performance
Citroen has made huge improvements to the Dispatch’s ride and handling compared with the previous version.
The latest model has a very low centre of gravity thanks to the low position of the engine (don't be fooled by the height of the grille!), helping the van to feel planted on the road, and reducing body roll in the bends.
Similarly, the suspension is nicely set up so that it deals well with bumps, and isn't too choppy - even when there's little in the way of load in the back. Many medium vans, including the bestselling Ford Transit Custom, can often feel very bouncy when driven unlaiden.
Citroen Dispatch pre-May 2019 engines
At launch the Dispatch was available with a pleasing wide range of BlueHDi diesel engines and transmissions.
The 1.6-litre engine comes with 95hp and 210Nm in its entry-level guise, combined with either the standard five-speed manual gearbox or optional six-speed automated manual transmission (a sort of clunky automatic); alternatively, the 1.6 is available with 116hp and 300Nm, and a standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox.
The larger 2.0-litre engine is available with 120hp / 340Nm, 150hp / 370Nm - both six-speed manual - or 180hp / 400Nm output that comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic.
Apart from the entry-level 95hp output, which may feel a little anaemic when challenged by heavy loads, all of these engines are sprightly and keen, and generally acceptably refined.
The gearboxes could be better, however - a situation that's not helped by some weirdly square geare knobs. Ergonomic these are not.
Citroen Dispatch post-May 2019 Euro 6D Temp engines
As of May 2019 production, the Dispatch complies with the more stringent Euro 6d-Temp emissions regulations, well ahead of the September 2019 deadline.
This means little change for the 2.0-litre engines for practical purposes; you can still buy 120hp, 150hp and 180hp versions - though the most powerful model has been upgraded to an eight-speed automatic gearbox (EAT8), in place of the previous six-speed unit.
However, the 1.6-litre engines were replaced by a new 1.5-litre motor, offering a single 100hp power output. This new engine has been used in Citroen passenger cars for some time, so shouldn't be cause for any reliability concerns.
At the time of writing in October 2019 we're still waiting to test the new 1.5-litre engines in the Dispatch, but we have already sampled similar engines in the PSA Group's smaller vans, and can confirm they perform well for their size. They're quiet, too.
- Cramped cabin with limited visibility
- Poor driving position
- Rivals offer better in-cab storage
Climbing into the cab, one disadvantage becomes immediately apparent. The low seating position and high dashboard means that visibility has been compromised and the small cab is dark and cramped.
The driving position on right-hand drive models is also noticably offset, meaning that the steering wheel and pedals don't line up, forcing you to sit slightly twisted.
The next problem is finding somewhere to put your stuff. There are a number of small storage compartments, but the only decent-sized space is located underneath the passenger bench.
Many rivals are much more practical in this area.
The quality isn’t quite up to the standard of the competition either; on early test drives we particularly noticed the poor fit of the panel on the bulkhead.
Still, you can get a Moduwork load-through bulkhead, which comes with a twin passenger bench that has a fold-flat outer seat and a middle seat back that folds down to form a desk.
- Well priced, with good mpg - the Dispatch should be cheap to run
- More premium rivals may offer lower monthly finance costs though
- Service intervals, warranty info and trim levels detailed below
With low starting prices, the new Citroen Dispatch looks very affordable compared with most of the competition. A lot of Citroen’s well-respected Business Centre dealerships offer good deals on products, too.
But if you're planning to buy on finance, you may find more desirable rivals have lower monthly costs. So check before you sign on the dotted line...
Citroen Dispatch mpg
The pre-May 2019 engines claim to return between 48.7mpg and what was then a class-leading 55.3mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle.
The updated engines should be more efficient still. However, in September 2019 a new WLTP method of measuring fuel economy was introduced, and this has seen on-paper figures fall to between 35.9mpg and 41.3mpg.
This does not mean these latest models are less economical, rather that the test is now tougher and supposed to better represent real-world driving.
Running costs should continue to be very competitive here.
As with most Euro 6 vans and pickups, the Dispatch uses AdBlue to improve its emissions. This is stored in a 22.4-litre tank, providing a theoretical range of over 9,000 miles between fill ups.
Citroen Dispatch service intervals
Service intervals are set at 25,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first.
Citroen Dispatch warranty
The Dispatch comes with a three-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
The first two years offer unlimited mileage cover.
Citroen Dispatch standard equipment
The Citroen Dispatch came in the following trim levels until May 2019, with the following highlight items of standard equipment.
For details of safety equipment see the Safety and Security section of this review.
Citroen Dispatch X standard equipment highlights:
- Twin sliding side doors
- Full steel bulkhead
- Height-adjustable driver's seat
- Dual passenger bench with storage tray
- Cruise control
- Electric windows
- Full size spare wheel
- DAB radio
- Bluetooth, USB and aux-in connectivity
- 12v socket in load area and cabin
Citroen Dispatch Enterprise standard equipment highlights (in addition to X):
- Rear parking sensors
- Electrically adjustable heated door mirrors
- Moduwork load-through bulkhead and passenger bench
- Automatic lights and wipers
- 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
Citroen Dispatch Enterprise Plus standard equipment highlights (in addition to Enterprise):
- Metallic paint
- Body-coloured bumpers, door handles and side rubbing strips
- Front foglights
- LED daytime running lights
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- 180-degree rear parking camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Electrically folding heated door mirrors
- Connect Nav sat-nav system with emergency call and breakdown assist
New Citroen Dispatch trim levels for 2019
From May 2019, the Dispatch range was expanded with the introduction of Worker and Driver models. Here are the details.
Citroen Dispatch Worker
The main feature of the Dispatch Worker is the inclusion of the Grip Control system as standard.
This is an enhanced traction system for slippery surfaces that includes clever electronics as well as mud and snow tyres. You also get an extra 20mm of ground clearance and a 20mm-thick sump guard.
The idea being that the Worker model is intended for tough site duties.
The Moduwork load-through bulkhead and passenger seat is part of the package, too.
Citroen Dispatch Driver
The Dispatch Driver is intended to make life better for operators who spend a lot of time on the road.
To this end it includes not only most of the features of the Enterprise Plus model, but also improved noise and temperature insulation, in an effort to further increase refinement (the Dispatch is already pretty decent in this area).
On top of this you also get a load of extra safety equipment, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
- Engines should be well proven...
- ...but Dispatch has been subject to a lot of recalls
At launch Citroen was using the same 1.6- and 2.0-litre engines that proved to be fairly reliable with the previous Dispatch generation.
We say 'fairly' with some deliberation. This latest Dispatch has already been subject to a number of safety recalls from Citroen, including issues with the engines - but also the suspension, the steering and the brakes.
So, if you're buying used make sure that all the recall work has been properly carried out. And if you're worried about a particular van, you should be able to check the number plate with Citroen and the government's 'check vehicle recalls' service.
In May 2019 the 2.0-litre engines were mildly upgraded and the 1.6-litre options replaced by a newer 1.5-litre motor. Although new to the van, the 1.5 has been in used in Citroen's passenger cars for some time, so we're not expecting any major issues.
All Citroen vans come with a three-year / 100,000-mile warranty, with the first two years offering unlimited mileage coverage.
- Vast amount of available safety kit
- Shame more of it isn't standard
- All models have deadlocks
A whole host of new safety systems have been introduced with this model.
Citroen Dispatch safety
All of the following items are available on the Citroen Dispatch - though you will have to pay extra (or at least go for a higher trim level) to actually get most of them:
- Electronic stability control (ESC)
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Speed limiter
- Forward distance alert (warns you if you're too close to the vehicle in front)
- Head-up display
- Blind spot monitors
- Traffic sign recognition
- Lane departure warning
- Driver fatigue monitor
It's an impressive array. But we would like to see things like AEB fitted on more models as standard - this can not only prevent or reduce injury but also improve running costs by cutting down on low-speed accidents.
All models do get driver and passenger airbags, however, not to mention a full steel bulkhead.
From May 2019 production all Dispatch vans are fitted with an emergency assist function called Citroen Connect Box that automatically calls the emergency services in the event of an accident.
The system can also be activated manually, giving you a direct line to Citroen's assistance centre.
Euro NCAP Bronze award
As part of the latest Euro NCAP van safety campaign, the Dispatch was awarded a Bronze rating for its available safety kit. This is a bit of a puzzler, as the technically identical Vauxhall Vivaro and Peugeot Expert have both been awarded Silver ratings - though the Toyota Proace was only given Bronze status, too.
Citroen Dispatch security
All versions of the Dispatch come with deadlocks, and a remote locking system that allows you to open the cab separately from the load area.
You'll need an Enterprise model or above to get an alarm as standard, however.
Which Citroën Dispatch is best for me?
Still trying to decide which Dispatch is for you? Maybe we can help.
Best Citroen Dispatch engine
The smaller capacity 1.5 and older 1.6 engines are fine for undemanding driving around town and should prove cheapest of all to insure.
But if you've got lots of long journeys in your schedules, we'd recommend upgrading to a 2.0-litre motor if you can, as these feel decidedly more muscular and better able to cope with the highest payload.
The 120hp version should be suitable for most, but if you are regularly heading out fully loaded the 150hp model will be worth the extra outlay.
The range-topping 180hp is fast, if that's important, but also likely to be harder on tyres, brakes and fuel. The later eight-speed auto is definitely worth having over the original six-speed.
Best Citroen Dispatch trim level
Citroen has cleverly tailored its trim levels to suit different uses. For a basic van, the entry-level X will serve just fine, but to us the additional creature comforts of Enterprise are certainly worth the extra outlay.
The Worker model specifically targets operators who do a lot of construction site work, and should serve well in this environment thanks to its additional traction, ground clearance and body protection.
Those who spend a lot of time on the motorway - or simply want the most car-like drive - certainly should take a closer look at the Driver, which is quieter and more comfortable inside.
Don't forget the family rivals
The Dispatch is essentially identical to the Peugeot Expert, Toyota Proace and Vauxhall Vivaro, so if you're set your heart on the design of this van it's stillworth cross-shopping with these others to see if you can get a better deal.
Vauxhall has a lot of dealers, and the Vivaro has been built in the UK to a high standard right from its launch in 2019 (the Luton factory is now building Dispatch and Expert as well).
The Toyota, meanwhile, comes with a five-year warranty. So if you plan to keep your van for a while, the Proace is definitely worth investigating.