Bargain MPV remains one of the best value ways to transport a growing family and everything that goes with it

The Berlingo keeps all of the things that made the previous model a great MPV – brilliant passenger and boot space, low running costs, great value – and improves on each even further. Crucially, it’s much better to drive than before and while it’s not quite as fun as most rival family cars, it’s refined and reasonably comfortable.

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Citroen Berlingo M Flair BlueHDi 130 manual

Upon release in 1996, the Citroen Berlingo took a different approach to its MPV rivals. While most were developed from the ground up to be cars first and foremost, the Citroen used more humble van underpinnings. Adding windows and seats to a popular commercial vehicle made for a rugged, simple and affordable alternative to the mainstream.

This ‘van with windows’ formula is one that Citroen continues to employ, with rivals like the (closely related) Vauxhall Combo Life and Volkswagen Caddy Life also following a similar recipe. Citroen has sold 3.3 million units in the last two decades and the Berlingo remains Citroen’s second-biggest seller worldwide (behind the C3).

The third generation model is more car-like than ever, though: under the skin it’s a mix of the old Berlingo and PSA’s latest EMP2 platform – underpinnings used by the likes of the Peugeot 3008 and the Citroen C5 Aircross. The result is vastly improved refinement, infotainment and safety tech compared to its predecessor.

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But it’s practicality where the Citroen Berlingo has always shone, and the good news is that it’s now more useful than ever. The boxy exterior shape translates into fantastic passenger and boot space, while deep cubbies, a huge glovebox and a host of other clever storage spaces shows that genuine thought has been invested in the cabin.

Typical family SUVs handle better and offer more refinement, but Berlingo is comfortable and very easy to drive
Frugal engines and low CO2 emissions keep running costs low, but popular crossovers will hold more value
Chunky exterior design matched with hard-wearing interior – though it can’t fully hide its humble commercial origins
There’s not only a vast amount of space, but brilliant design ensures that it’s exploited brilliantly
Plenty of safety kit by van-based standards, but reliability still an unknown

There are two body styles to choose from: the M model is the standard model, while the XL measures 35cm longer – enough space for a third row of seats, taking the total to seven. There are two trim levels to choose from: Feel, and the better-equipped Flair.

The Berlingo competes against the likes of the Fiat Doblo and Volkswagen Caddy Life, but its closest rivals come from within the PSA brand: the Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter and the Vauxhall Combo Life are – minor cosmetic differences aside – close to identical. In other words, choosing between the three should really come down to money: we recommend choosing whichever of the three is offered with the most competitive deal at the time.

Last updated: 
7 Feb, 2019