Citroen Berlingo XTR+
28 June 2006
Category: High-cube Price: £9145-£12,045
Delivery: 2-4 weeks Key rival: Mitsubishi Pinin
Getting stuck is bad for business, downtime costs, but if it's only an infrequent occurrence, it's difficult to justify four-wheel drives.
Any 4x4 whether it car or van, brings compromise. For vans adding heavy all-wheel drive ruins fuel consumption, lowers payload and generally adds to running costs. For most LCV buyers, there's only the choice of 'proper' 4x4 vans and pick-ups - expensive for those in the market for a small delivery van.
Citroen has a novel solution, a mudplugger that won't cost the earth.
Labelled as a 'enhanced traction' van, the humble Berlingo's endowed with a sprinkling of off-road potential, though it's still two-wheel drive. Developed in France for fleets like Alpine police forces, the technology is ideal for coping with muddy and snowy mountainous roads.
Maximising traction, is the addition of a limited slip differential that can transfer up to 75% of torque to the wheel with most grip. For the UK, the Berlingo XTR+ gains a loftier ride height, raised by 40mm. Under the body, metal armour guards against potential rocky hazards, while tougher suspension and larger 15" wheels plus nobbly tyres ensure greater purchase when the going gets sticky.
There will always be limitations to a 2WD high-cube's abilities. It does without a low ratio gearbox meaning first gear is too long for downhill stuff, but it coped well on the off-road course we drove, although adding weight up to the 569kg payload (31kg down over the standard van) could eradicate its traction advantage.
On the road the Berlingo feels little different to the standard model. There's more tyre noise and the ride's stiffer, but the handling is close to the rest of the range.
The XTR+ commands a premium of £1400 over the standard van, getting unstuck has never been so cheap.