10 JUNE 2019
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There was a time, ages ago, when car manufacturers literally badged their cars to suit the market, the classic example being the original British Motor Corp (BMC) Mini, with Oxford producing the Morris version and Longbridge an Austin.
It is quite some time ago but only the emblems changed as far as I can recall writes Malcolm Ginsberg, although there were Innocenti (Italian), Riley and Wolseley, Mini Moke and various overseas assembled versions. And of course the Mini Cooper, still very much with us today, a somewhat expanded development. Vauxhalls became Opels and in the 21st century VW Group offers the VW UP, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo all essentially similar. There are many other examples.
Which brings us on to the Citroen Berlingo dating from 1996, and its sister car the Peugeot Rifter, new in 2018, and the subject of a short review last October.
The Berlingo is a special package that will not appeal to all, but certainly will please certain ‘patrons’ who do not want style and are more interested in the practicability of the product. The Berlingo starts at £18,505 list price and Peugeot Rifter £20,245 although the test Berlingo came in at £20,400.
What you get is a 14.5ft-long car with three separately folding rear seats, the ability to fold the front passenger seat forward for improved flexibility, an expansive flat load bay, a sizeable tailgate to protect you from the elements when unloading in wet weather and storage space galore including what is termed a “full width front overhead storage shelf” at the top of the front screen. I would describe it as a secret compartment away from the children. There is an “upper glove compartment” too but would a Berlingo owner wear gloves?
Citroen offer a range of diesel and petrol engines, the test car offering a 1.5ltr common rail injection diesel with a friendly five-speed manual gearbox.
At £275 the Aqua Green paintwork is a certain taste, not mine. Citroen call this model of Berlingo ‘Feel’, which may mean something in French I am not aware of. There is a fine 8” nav screen with Tom Tom, cruise control and a speed limiter, USB socket and a fine six-speaker sound system. The demo car came with the ‘family pack’ which turned out to be the extra internal mirror for checking on the back seat passengers and blinds for the rear side windows. The ‘Feel’ model also includes a glass roof and even more storage space, black roof bars and a smartphone charging point. She came with ‘hill start assist’ which once you have got used to it is really very good.
Would I buy a Berlingo? The answer is no, but if I had a young family and a wife not bothered in keeping up with her fancy SUV mounted contemporaries it is probably perfect. And you don’t have to climb up to get in either!
There is nothing really to compete with it!
Ride and Comfort 7
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