The first generation Citroen Berlingo received a very good response from the market and was sold in good numbers. With this success in mind, Citroen decided to keep the van in its lineup despite the fact that has introduced a completely new generation in 2008.
The first Berlingo however is offered to a very affordable price ($17.000) and makes a lot of sense being a bit different that the new model. The Citroen Berlingo First has a maximum payload of 600 kg and is equipped with a Euro 4 diesel engine which develops 75 hp and 170 Nm.
Despite its old age, Citroen has decided to keep the vehicle’s design unchanged. Though, this isn’t as bad as it sounds, because the Berlingo First’s design has aged pretty nicely.
The vehicle features a pretty clean exterior style with a boxy shape and a long nose. At the front it gets a simple radiator grille traversed by a single thin strip which is fitted with the company logo in its center. The big headlights continue the clear design language found at the rest of the car and cope great with the massive black bumper. Talking about the bumper, it features a rounded shape and it’s fitted with a big central air intake, betraying the utilitarian character of the Citroen Berlingo First.
Moving on to the side view, the Berlingo First received a horizontal crease which starts from the front fenders and runs across the sides offering a touch of dynamism to an otherwise pretty basic design. The utilitarian character of the vehicle is also enhanced by the thick side moldings.
The Berlingo First can carry a full size pallet (1000 x1200mm) or two smaller metric pallets thanks to its load deck which measures 1700mm in length with a 1600mm width. The list of standard load compartment equipment includes load securing eyes, interior load area lighting and a ladder frame bulkhead behind the driver.
Despite its old age the Berlingo First’s interior looks pretty nice. Even if the materials and built quality aren’t as good as the new model, they are still pretty good, given the utilitarian nature of the vehicle.
The overall ergonomy is also surprisingly good and all the controls have an intuitive layout. There’s a digital centre console display keeping you posted on different vehicle stats and there are also plenty of cup holders, cubby holes and different storage places placed around the cabin to make your life on board more pleasant. There is a useful overhead storage shelf above the big windscreen as well and some storage in the dashboard.
The seats are pretty comfortable and they are also offered with plenty adjustments, hence it won’t be hard to find a proper driving position. The steering wheel is also pretty ergonomically designed and can be adjusted for height further enhancing the comfort.
The Citroen Berlingo First’s outward visibility is quite good as well and the A pillars are pretty thin without affecting the visibility.
The Berlingo First is offered with a useful list of features including electric windows, electric passenger door mirror, power steering and radio/CD player as standard, while air conditioning is available as an option.
Although the crash protection isn’t as high tech as other vehicles in its class, the Berlingo First still offers a standard driver airbag and optional passenger airbags being able o score a four star Euro NCAP rating.
Power comes from a 1.6 HDI diesel engine which develops 75 hp @ 4000 rpm, whereas the maximum torque is 170 Nm@ 1755. Rpm. The engine is mated on a five speed manual gearbox which is fairly punch and offers good performances.
The Citroen Berlingo First’s engine needs to deal with a gross vehicle weight of 1740, which is a big number for only 75 ponies so don’t expect to any sporty experiences.
On the other hand it feels comfortable in the city driving and has enough punch to be fairly agile when It needs to. With a 0-100 kmph achieved in 14.1 seconds and a full speed of 150 kmph, at highway speeds it feels bit lazy.
At least the four cylinder unit is pretty smooth and refined and scores an average fuel consumption of only 5.4 liters /100km which is pretty impressive.
Citroen Berlingo First Engine Specifications
|1.6 HDI||75@4000||170@1650||150 kmph|
Ride and handling
The Citroen Berlingo First has a pretty comfortable ride, but it has a pronounced body roll. On the other hand the handling is fairly good and the steering always gives you a proper feedback, being able to be also fairly light without losing its precise feel.
Moreover, the Citroen Berlingo First has also a pretty tight turning circle which permits you to negotiate with tight city streets.
All Citroen Berlingo Firsts come with anti-lock brakes, driver’s airbag, seatbelt pre-tensioners. The stop pedal has a proper bite and inspires enough confidence to keep you satisfied.
Thanks to its good price, the Berlingo First is a bit cheaper than other modern vans, and while it doesn’t offer the same level of sophistication it’s still able to make a compelling case for itself.
It’s true that the payload capacity is limited at 600 kg (including driver), but this doesn’t mean than the Berlingo First isn’t practical. The 1.6HDi engine is pretty refined and leaving apart its lack of sportiness, it offers a good fuel economy and it’s pretty nimble around town as well.
The vehicle could prove to be a wise choice for those seeking a basic van without all the (pricey) bells and whistles of it modern rivals.