IS it a car? Is it a van? Well, the Citroen Berlingo is that rare beast which ticks both boxes, depending on which version you choose.

For those who need to carry tools and materials, then the van is the obvious choice.

But Citroen recognised that the Berlingo was not only fit for purpose as a workhorse but also could do a job as a people carrier.

So let’s get the obvious out of the way to begin with. The Berlingo is not a great drive, and Citroen would not dream of trying to convince you that it was anything more than an ordinary steer with only a modicum of performance.

What is also obvious is the huge amount of interior and luggage space, its practicality and its relatively cheap price tag. It is also a surprisingly relaxing drive.

Available in two trim levels, Feel and Flair, this third-generation of what is termed a leisure activity vehicle is aimed fairly and squarely at families with active lifestyles.

It has always done a brilliant job as a holdall, but is now offered as something more than that. For instance, there are now up to 19 driver aids and four connectivity technologies.

Then there are the practical touches. Three independent folding rear seats mean that you can not only carry a decent-sized wardrobe with the seats folded down but you can also separate two squabbling offspring at the touch of a button. You can even fold the front passenger seat too if you need ever centimetre of space, creating a load length of 2.70 metres in the five-seat version or 3.05m in the seven-seater.

Available for the first time as a five (M) or seven-seater (XL), the Berlingo has an entry price of £18,850. With a broad choice of engines and – for the first time –Clitroen’s new automatic gearbox, it builds on the success of the previous models by refining the styling and bringing more comfort and practicality.

There’s still a range of diesel engines but the turbocharged 1.2-lire petrol engine is surely the one to go for. You can expect a fuel economy figure of more than 40mpg, and there’s enough power to handle a full load.

I particularly like the Berlingo’s wide-sliding rear sliding doors, which enable young ones to be loaded more safely or conveniently when in difficult situations such as tight parking spots or on a busy road.

But wherever you look there appears to be a great attention to detail.

There are Airbump panels on the lower parts of the doors, attractive wheels and a range of colour combinations which should satisfy all.

Inside, you will find an uncluttered cabin offering two different ambiences and if you opt for the XTR pack on Flair versions – tested here - you will get a specific interior finish.

At the back, those sliding side doors now come with electric windows and the benchmark boot capacity of up to 775-litres for the M version and up to 1,050-litres for the XL. The boot is accessible through the opening rear window in the tailgate and two different height positions for the luggage cover.

There’s lots more clever stuff to admire, such as the inclusion of 28 storage spaces in the cabin, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof with an electric blind.

And then we come to those 19 driver aids, which include a colour head-up display, adaptive cruise control with stop function, electric parking brake, reversing camera, grip control with hill descent assist and trailer stability control.

There’s wireless smartphone charging, 3D connected navigation with voice recognition and an emergency assistance system.

This new Berlingo also benefits from a new platform and Citroën’s advanced comfort programme, making for improved manoeuvrability and a softer ride.

If you are looking for a robust people carrier that’s about as practical as you can get, then look no further than the Berlingo. It’s even a relaxing driving now.

It may in essence be the same car as the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life underneath, but the Berlingo’s pricing and specification make it the winner.


Citroen Berlingo M Flair

Price: from £21,345 (Berlingo range from £18,885)

Engine: Three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol, producing 108bhp

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.5 seconds; top speed 109mph

Economy: 42.4mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ***

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: *****