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Citroen Berlingo: ‘An easy manner and can-do spirit’

The Guardian logo The Guardian 17/03/2019 Martin Love
POZNAN, POLAND - APRIL 05:The New Citroen Berlingo is displayed during the Poznan Motor Show at the International Poznan Trades Center in Poznan, Poland on April 05, 2018. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) © 2018 Anadolu Agency POZNAN, POLAND - APRIL 05:The New Citroen Berlingo is displayed during the Poznan Motor Show at the International Poznan Trades Center in Poznan, Poland on April 05, 2018. (Photo by Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Citroen Berlingo

Price: £21,345

Top speed: 109mph

0-62mph: 11.5 seconds

MPG: 42.4

CO2: 119g/km

Citroen CEO Linda Jackson delivers a speech in front of a new Citroen Berlingo model car on March 6, 2018 at the stand of French carmaker during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva.
The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Citroen CEO Linda Jackson delivers a speech in front of a new Citroen Berlingo model car on March 6, 2018 at the stand of French carmaker during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva. The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Driving into the garden centre, I pull up next to a rather unusual car. It’s a hearse. “What are they doing here?” I wonder. “Picking up some last-minute flowers,” guesses my son, “or maybe an extra shovel and some body bags…” As we bask in our hilarity, the owner of the hearse returns. He’s not an undertaker, just a canny bloke who wanted a cheap set of wheels. “It cost me £650 on eBay,” he says, hefting some fence posts into the back and laying them on the plinth where the coffin usually rests. “I bought it because there’s loads of room for my mountain bikes,” he adds. How functional: two seats, the hugest boot, low mileage, and you can park anywhere so long as you wear a black suit and look sombre.

Most of us only ever want to make one journey by hearse. But to benefit from this abundance of practicalities you don’t need to buy a funeral wagon. Instead, you could go for its life-affirming equivalent: a Citroën Berlingo.

Le Citroen Berlingo Concept Mountain Vibe exposée lors du Salon de l'auto de Geneve le 4 mars 2015, Genève, Suisse. (Photo by Lionel FLUSIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) © LEELOU/GAMMA-RAPHO Le Citroen Berlingo Concept Mountain Vibe exposée lors du Salon de l'auto de Geneve le 4 mars 2015, Genève, Suisse. (Photo by Lionel FLUSIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) A little over 20 years – and more than 1.7m vehicles – ago, Citroën created a previously unknown class of vehicle – and called it the Berlingo. It was an affordable, van-based MPV designed to be the ultimate leisure car, offering oodles of usable space, a massive boot and an up-for-any-adventure personality. It was short, wide and tall, which also made it very easy to park. It had hosable rubber mats and no-nonsense, wipe-down plastics. The rear doors were slidable, making access simple. It was the family car that was all about function, and because it worked so well it gained some unexpected kudos. You couldn’t call it stylish and yet it had a style all of its own. It’s been so successful that in 22 years it has only had two make-overs. The Berlingo was proof that if you build something people need, they’ll soon want one – no matter how odd it looked.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 05: Citroen Berlingo is displayed at the press days of 88th Geneva International Motor Show, which will be opened from 8th to 18th March 2018, at Palexpo Exhibition Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on March 05, 2018. (Photo by Fatih Erel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) © 2018 Anadolu Agency GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 05: Citroen Berlingo is displayed at the press days of 88th Geneva International Motor Show, which will be opened from 8th to 18th March 2018, at Palexpo Exhibition Centre in Geneva, Switzerland on March 05, 2018. (Photo by Fatih Erel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) Now, along comes the third-generation Berlingo. It comes in two versions: a standard 4.4m five-seat model and an all-new seven-seat XL version that is 35cm longer. If either of these look familiar to you that’s because it shares much of its underpinnings with Peugeot’s Rifter and Vauxhall’s Combo Life – all three are from the same PSA Group stable. Whether you go for the five- or seven-seater, you’ll find much to like in this reinvigorated car. It looks strong and sensible, but it has a playful twinkle about it.

The new Citroen Berlingo model car is displayed during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6, 2018 in Geneva. 
The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18.  / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) The new Citroen Berlingo model car is displayed during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6, 2018 in Geneva. The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) The grille is higher and shorter than before and is framed by a snazzy pair of two-tier lights. The massive windscreen is set so far forward you can’t reach it from the driver’s seat. This makes the car feel wonderfully spacious and bright – tomatoes in a greenhouse enjoy more shade. It’s also topped off by a pair of sleek roof rails which means if a rack for bikes, boards, skis or box can easily be added. The Berlingo also takes practicality and storage to Marie Kondo levels of tidiness: it has 28 separate compartments, totalling 186 litres of extra storage. Then there’s the boot, which swallows a further 775 litres of load.

The new Citroen Berlingo model car is displayed during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6, 2018 in Geneva. 
The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18.  / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) The new Citroen Berlingo model car is displayed during the first press day of the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6, 2018 in Geneva. The show opens to the public on March 8 and runs through March 18. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) It’s powered by a 109bhp version of the award-winning PureTech 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox. A larger 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel is also available. The petrol unit is smooth and sprightly. It corners with surprisingly little roll given its tall body and soft suspension. With its easy manner and can-do spirit, the Berlingo brims with the possibility of escape from everyday life, whether that’s camping, hiking or biking. It’s definitely one to enjoy before we start pushing up daisies…

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