Citroën's utilitarian family holdall is likeable and sophisticated, and a very sensible used buy

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SUV owners like you to believe they lead lives filled with adventure, but owners of the Citroën Berlingo Multispace actually do. 

Go to any campsite and you’re likely to see Berlingos at the heart of family escapades, doubling as living areas as well as a means of travel.

The second-generation Multispace covered here was in production from 2008 to 2018. With traditional MPVs such as the Vauxhall Zafira available, the more utilitarian and separate-looking Multispace was always going to appeal to buyers with very specific requirements. It might explain why there aren’t that many on the used car market – unless, of course, it’s because their besotted owners can’t bear to part with them…

The model shared its basic platform architecture and drivetrains with the Citroën C4 and Peugeot 308, lending it a civilised feel and mature driving manners.

That said, the 1.6-litre petrol engines lack puff and sound strained; not so, the punchy and economical 1.2 Puretech with 108bhp that arrived relatively late in 2016.

It’s our pick of the petrols, but it’s the diesels that serve the Berlingo better and which dominate the market. They were all 1.6s throughout the model’s life but with different power outputs and technologies.

The early 74bhp and 89bhp units are gutless but cheap; more expensive but better all round are the later 99bhp and 118bhp Blue HDi diesels, although the latter is extremely rare. Both are Euro 6.

For a while, early 89bhp diesels were available with an EGS6 semi-automatic gearbox. It can be rough and jerky and dents performance. Its successor, the ETG6 that was fitted as an option to 99bhp diesels, is smoother but equally as pace-sapping, although economical. The regular manual gearbox is not great – it has a long throw and dislikes being rushed – but does the job.

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The Multispace’s passenger car connections mean it’s composed over bumps and crests. It’s softly sprung and its tyres have deep sidewalls so it rides comfortably, although it struggles to mask serious surface imperfections and potholes. Despite its soft springs and tall profile, it is quite fun to thread along a twisty road.

The interior has plenty of space for passengers and their luggage. On that point, the boot alone is 675 litres, but remove the rear seats in top-spec versions and there’s a mighty 3000 litres to work with. All versions have underfloor storage. The Berlingo’s fixtures and fittings are tough and the exterior’s alternative looks are carried over to an equally characterful dashboard dominated by a large centre console.

Immediately below it is the gear lever, mounted clear of the floor. Entry-level VT and the later Touch trim versions are basic – the rear seat is just a split/fold affair and they have black bumpers – but they’re mercifully few and far between.

Mid-spec VTR, the mildly off-road-ready XTR, the later mid-spec Feel and high-spec Flair are more plentiful, attractive and useful. All have body-coloured fittings and features including air-con, front electric windows, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a split-opening tailgate.

Higher-spec versions add larger alloy wheels, roof bars and an infotainment system with a 7in screen. They also have a reversing camera, individual and removable seats (they are heavy, though) and seatback tables. One option worth looking out for is the Modutop roof with its 170 litres of storage. Bring on that adventure.


Is the Citroen Berlingo Multispace reliable?

Citroen featured in the most recent WhatCar reliability survey and finished 14th out of 32 car manufacturers, ahead of Fiat and Ford but lower than Honda and Hyundai. An overall reliability rating of 92.3% is strong, however. Based on this, and the fact that even the AA calls it "extremely reliable", mean you should be in good hands if you find one that has been treated well. 

But what about more specific issues? We cover them here:

Engines: All engines thrive on regular oil changes, the early 1.6 HDi in particular. Make sure the correct grade is used: Citroën revised it from around 2010 in an attempt to prevent turbo failures. The later BlueHDi diesels require AdBlue top-ups at the rate of 10 litres per 10,000 miles.

Gearbox: Both EGS6 and ETG6 semi-auto transmissions have a reputation for jerkiness. Reprogramming the gearbox bite point may help, but it’s likely the only long-term cure will be a new clutch. Cost: around £900.

Steering and suspension: Check the tyres for irregular wear or worn shoulders indicating misalignment and that the vehicle is sitting correctly – broken rear springs aren’t uncommon on older Berlingos that have seen hard use.

Tyres, wheels and brakes: Older examples are often run on a shoestring, so check the condition of the brakes and tyres. Past MOT history could make interesting reading, so visit the government’s MOT check website.

Body: Rust is rare, so where it occurs it’s likely to be related to past repairs. Instead, unsightly scuffs and scrapes are common. Make sure the central locking works and that the doors slide easily and close securely. Check the large tailgate for scrapes where it has been opened carelessly and that the struts still support it.

Also worth knowing

Proving the versatility of the Berlingo Multispace is the handful of used examples that have been converted into mini-camper vans. The first we found was a 2016-reg 1.6 Blue HDi 100 with 28,000 miles. It had a ‘large’ drop-down bed, table, gas hob, electric hook-up and window blinds, priced at £10,995. The second was another 2016 example but with 50,000 miles. It had a single bed, cupboard, gas hob, gas heater, battery pack, coolbox/centre armrest and heavily tinted glass for campsite privacy, all for £8450.

If you would prefer to have your used Berlingo converted to your spec, there are plenty of companies happy to oblige. We can’t vouch for the standard of their work, but they include Redcote Leisure, GB Camper Conversions, Fantastic Campervans and Simple Campervans. At berlingoforum.com you can find lots of DIY conversion advice.

An owner's view

Rob Downing: “My 2010-reg Berlingo Multispace has been in the family since new, at various times owned by me, my dad, my uncle and my brother. It’s a 1.6 HDi 90 XTR and has done 81,000 miles. It looks its age but has always been regularly serviced. It’s had a new engine mount (it still vibrates when accelerating, so perhaps one of the other mounts needs changing), but that’s the only major work. It has passed all of its MOTs first time, bar one. It averages 50mpg and costs £190 a year to tax, so it’s not expensive to run. It’s in XTR trim so has raised suspension, underbody protection and the Grip Control traction system. It also has removable seats. We can’t think of a more economical, reliable and versatile car for the money."


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With the original Citroen Berlingo, the engineering philosophy was very much one of turning an existing commercial vehicle into family transport. But since well over 50 percent of the worldwide sales of the original Berlingo were of the MPV version, the design and engineering process was much more even-handed the second time around.

Instead of creating a passenger vehicle from a van, this Berlingo was designed as both a van and MPV from the outset. As a result, there is a general air of sophistication, particularly in terms of refinement and the quality of materials used in the cabin.

When it launched, this car stepped up half a class in size terms, being both longer and wider than it had ever been previously. This was keenly felt in tight car parks and narrow roads; the Berlingo measures just 10mm narrower than a first-generation Peugeot 308.

It still looks very much like a Berlingo, however. There’s a longer, sleeker snout, complete with Citroën’s then new corporate face. There are also pronounced wheel arches which help to disguise the slabby flanks. But the Citroen Berlingo Multispace is still, at its heart, a boxy van with windows and rear seats, just like its sibling, the Peugeot Partner Tepee.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s an honesty and simplicity to the Berlingo; it doesn’t try to hide what it is.


Citroën Berlingo interior

The flexibility and practicality of its interior should be an MPV’s star turn, and the Citroen Berlingo Mutispace – mostly – delivers. The boxy proportions bring plenty of luggage space without compromising room for passengers, while if the car you're looking at has removable seats (an option back in the day) the Berlingo will swallow more or less anything.

The high roofline also means there’s space for all sorts of clever storage solutions. For example, one option available was interior roof bars. Alternatively, the Modutop option brought overhead air vents and shelves, a 50-litre locker hanging above the boot and glass panels that run the length of the roof.

The problem is that although the boxy shape offers plenty of space, the basic Berlingo car offers nothing like the versatility of conventional MPVs. Cars have to have the Modutop system and the removable rear seats to achieve anything like the flexibility of more conventional MPVs. Otherwise it just got a 60/40 split/fold rear bench, although thanks to the high roofline there’s still plenty of space for bulky loads.

But conventional MPVs tend to do most things better. Step up half a class and you’ll find the second-generation Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, whose seats fold flat into the floor. By comparison, the heavy, fiddly rear seats in the Berlingo can be awkward. At least the seats themselves – both front and rear – are well padded and supportive. While Ford and Volkswagen both gave us elongated versions of their commercial-vehicle-cum-MPV in the shape of the Ford Grand Tourneo Connect and Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life, both offer a conventional seven seater set-up and removeable seating.

So the Berlingo is always spacious and comfortable, but to get the best from it you need to be prepared to look at the standard equipment you get with the Berlingo Multispace. The entry-level Feel model got 15in steel wheels, lots of body colour moulded body parts and split tailgate as standard, while inside you got air conditioning, cruise control and Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.

Upgrading to the range-topping Flair trim granted you a few more luxuries, namely, a 7.0in touchscreeen infotainment system with DAB radio, parking sensors, heated and folding wing mirrors, rear picnic tables and 16in alloy wheels.

And although this Berlingo was a big step on from the previous model, interior quality is still some way off the likes of a conventional MPV and its nearest rivals from Ford and Volkswagen; it is clear the car was designed with White Van Man in mind rather than school run mum or dad.


Citroën Berlingo front quarter

For a car that puts out just 99bhp and tips Mira’s scales at 1580kg, the Berlingo Multispace actually acquits itself reasonably well. It hits 60mph from rest in 14.7sec and takes 16.7sec to accelerate from 30 to 70mph through the gears.

That sounds pretty slow, but compare it to a Citroen C4 Picasso with the same 1.6-litre diesel engine, which performs the same tests in 13.4sec and 13.7sec respectively, and it isn’t so bad. It even compares reasonably with superminis of the time; we figured a petrol-powered 1.4-litre Vauxhall Corsa at 12.0sec and 12.2sec over the same increments. So it's not quick, but it will at least keep up with the flow of traffic, and the healthy 159lb ft of torque means it can do so without feeling too strained.

The more powerful 118bhp diesel motor is undoubtedly the better choice of powerplant, however, feeling marginally more relaxed and refined on the road. It actually posts slightly better claimed fuel consumption figures, too. So it’s a shame it’s only available in the top-of-the-range (and expensive) Flair trim level.

Unless you’re really motoring on a strict budget, the entry-level petrol and diesels are best avoided; they feel weak and lack the refinement of the more powerful diesels, reminding you a little too much of the commercial vehicle that lies within.

The gearchange is probably the drivetrain’s weakest link. The action is positive, but the long throw and widely spaced gates mean hurried gearchanges are not a particularly enjoyable experience – although this won’t be a problem for most owners.


Citroën Berlingo cornering

This is where the Berlingo Multispace’s family hatchback roots should really pay off. And in many respects they do. The Berlingo certainly rides with smoothness and maturity down a bumpy road. Long undulations are smothered with controlled damping and there’s very little float or heave over crests and dips.

The ride is pretty quiet too, at least on motorways, where the only notable disturbance comes from the wind noise around the wing mirrors and A-pillars. The Berlingo’s refinement is particularly impressive considering the boxy interior is such a potentially echoing acoustic space.

Where the ride disappoints slightly, however, is over short-frequency ripples and ridges. There’s none of the loping, air-light gait that characterises hydropneumatically sprung Citroën models. Instead, while the ride is generally well controlled, it occasionally thuds and crashes over potholes or motorway expansion joints.

The news is similarly mixed when it comes to the twisty bits. You wouldn’t expect such a tall vehicle with such a utilitarian remit to actively be fun on a winding road, and so it proves. But the Berlingo is more competent here than you’d expect.

Oddly enough, however, the main reason the Berlingo is not a car to enjoy down a country road has nothing to do with the inevitable limitations of its naturally slightly unwieldy shape. Instead, the thing that lets the Berlingo down here is carried over from its hatchback cousins: the steering.

As well as the slightly odd angle at which it sits (which, despite both reach and rake adjustment, is hard to eliminate), the electrically assisted steering is too eager to self-centre, with the result that corners, particularly around town, are taken in a series of chunks rather than in one fluid movement.


Citroën Berlingo


There’s no denying the Berlingo’s low running costs. It’s cheap to insure, fairly easy on tax, and even though we managed only 38.1mpg when we road tested it over the course of our measured run in the 1.6 HDi, that includes all our performance testing. In reality, the Berlingo should deliver 40mpg plus in everyday driving, even if the official claimed figure is 53.3mpg for all three diesel versions. The official average for the petrol is a shade under 40mpg.


3.5 star Citroën Berlingo

Look at the Citroen Berlingo Multispace as a van with windows and rear seats and it will surpass all reasonable expectations; it is refined, economical and decent to drive. Even if you measure it against conventional passenger cars and small MPVs, the Citroen acquits itself well enough, even though ordinary MPVs do still have the edge dynamically.

Those sliding side doors are a boon when loading kids in tight parking spaces, but the huge rear door could catch you out if there’s not much space at the back; it swings out wide and high, and you need a fair bit of height and strength to pull it shut. It may be an attempt to move the Berlingo away from its van roots, but van-like twin boot doors would be far more practical.

The Berlingo’s van roots are a little too obvious inside, too. The cabin is smart and airy, but the quality is more workaday than luxurious (although the wipe-clean approach might appeal to some).

But with the right options the Berlingo remains the good-value holdall it always was, only now with a measure of refinement and quality. The van-cum-MPV has grown up. However, for our money it is less beguiling than the better driving Ford Tourneo Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy Life.

Haymarket Publishing


18 pt
18 pt


Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Citroen Berlingo Multispace 2008-2018 First drives