When it was launched for the first time, the Citroen Dispatch was hard to be put in an existing van category as it was situated somewhere between the big panel vans and the small ones. However, thanks to its mixed personality, the Dispatch was able to offer a perfect mix between maneuverability and load capacity.
The current model is a huge step forward compared to its predecessor. Yet despite its old age the previous model was a fairly capable vehicle that was able to cope great with the arduous demands of commercial duties.
The original Citroen Dispatch was offered with a choice of two diesel units namely the 1.9 HDi and 2.0 HDi and was sold between 1996 and 2006.
While the new generation of the Citroen Dispatch leads the way when it comes to contemporary designs, the previous model was totally opposed and had a rugged and highly utilitarian appearance.
Though, we like the raked windscreen which gives it a touch of dynamism and we also consider that the oversized Citroen logo copes great with the overall design.
The headlights have a basic rectangular shape, while the bonnet is traversed by two dynamic creases that point toward the radiator grille. Talking about the grille, it features a clean design which looks pretty nice.
The bumper however makes a solid statement about the true purpose of the vehicle and has a robust design without any “kind” lines.
The rugged character of the Dispatch is also revealed by the thick protective mouldings which run across the sides.
Depending on the engines, the Citroen Dispatch can tow either 815 kg or 900 kg. The load area is pretty generous with 2050 mm length, 1410 mm height and 1190 mm width (between wheel arches).
Access to the load area is made fairly easy, by means of a wide opening sliding side doors or the generous rear door that opens to 180 degrees.
On the inside, the previous Citroen Dispatch looks pretty strange with an unconventional dash design. The build quality was far from being as refined as the new model and the plastics were also part of the third class.
The center console popped out from the dash and was fitted with a sea of controls and also a short and ergonomically designed gear knob.
The interior design of the old Citroen Dispatch uses components from the Peugeot 806, Fiat Ulysee and even Citroen Synergie which are mainly passenger cars thus the Dispatch is pretty comfortable.
Up front, the Citroen Dispatch offers space for up to three people, but the middle passenger will suffer from lack of leg room due to the intrusive center console. The other two occupants however are treated with proper leg and head room.
The driver’s seat features a wide range of adjustments which permit you to get cozy behind the steering wheel in no time. To save even more space, the hand brake lever is placed near the door, but this position makes it a bit uncomfortable to use and you’ll need some time to get used to it.
The backrest of the middle passenger seat can be folded down to transform into a useful flat surface with cup holders. There are also other useful storage places found around the cabin which can be used to store different things.
The 1.9D engine develops a maximum output of 71 hp at 4600 rpm with 125 Nm o torque achieved at 2500 rpm. This unit isn’t something to rave about, as it works hard to keep the vehicle nimble, especially when you have some serious load at the back. It’s also unrefined and will start to show its raspy voice every time you push it harder.
The 2.0HDI unit however, is slightly better and comes with 110 hp on tap, while the maximum torque is rated at 250 Nm being achieved at 1750 rpm. Thanks to its generous torque, the engine never feels underpowered and deals effortless with big loads. It’s also more refined than the weaker unit and copes well with both highway and city traffic.
Citroen Dispatch Engine Specifications
| Engine || hp @ rpm || Nm @ rpm |
| 1.9 D || 71 @ 4600 || 125 @ 2500 |
| 2.0 HDi || 110 @ 4000 || 250 @ 1750 |
Ride and handling
The Citroen Dispatch uses McPherson Struts suspensions at the front and independent trailing arms with torsion bars at the rear. Thanks to this configuration the vehicle offers a good balance between carrying abilities and ride quality.
While on road, it feels more like a car and less like a van, thanks to its good balance and the proper handling. There is also a pretty small body roll to consider, but it corners well and there isn’t something to worry about.
The steering is also up the task and even if it can’t be compared with the one from the new model it still offers accurate turns and a decent overall response.
The Dispatch comes with front discs and rear drum brakes which are combined with an optional ABS system. Other safety features include a standard driver’s airbag, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters.
The original Citroen Dispatch was an outsider, but despite its mixed character it proved to be a success. Its versatile nature made it the preferred choice of those looking for a spacious and easy to maneuver LCV, while the diesel engines had plenty of power on tap. The steering and handling were better than expected and the ride quality wasn’t too bad either. The cabin offered a car like atmosphere, but its chunky design won’t win you any beauty awards.