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Citroen Berlingo Electric Test Drive Review

Date: 11 August 2014   |   Author: James Dallas

Citroen marketed its original EV Berlingo van from 1995 to 2005, and says this experience stood it in good stead in developing the new Berlingo Electric, particularly in deciding to sell it with the lithium-ion batteries included, which it believes customers prefer.

Citroen claims the van has a range of 106 miles. Using a domestic socket, it can be charged in eight and a half hours, or to 80% of capacity in 35 minutes in quick-charge mode with a specific 380V three-phase terminal.

The Berlingo Electric offers a payload of 636kg and load volume of 3.3m3, going up to 3.7m3 with the passenger seat folded (load length extends from 1800mm to 3000mm). The load bay is accessed by unglazed twin rear doors and a nearside sliding door (an offside sliding door is an option) and is guarded against minor damage by ply-lining.

The driver, meanwhile, is protected against loose objects entering the cab from the cargo area by a ladder frame bulkhead, but the passengers are afforded no such protection as standard. The electric van also only comes with a driver's airbag as standard, and is available in just mid-spec LX trim, but it does get one or two extras from the Enterprise trim as standard, such as aircon. The cabin's storage space includes a lot of small, curiously shaped cubby holes and an overhead shelf, while folding down the middle passenger seat reveals a rudimentary but useful work surface.

Despite the promised range capacity, the Berlingo Electric we tested displayed an anticipated limit of around 80 miles when charged. However, the regenerative braking was impressively efficient, and after a trip of about 30 miles on a predominantly urban route the reading was still predicting close to 60 miles' worth of charge remaining.

For those not used to driving an EV, the sharp deceleration when the accelerator is released can take some getting used to, but this is not too severe on the Berlingo Electric, and it actually helps city driving by reducing the need to press the footbrake. Without an engine and with a single-speed gearbox, the ride is quiet and smooth, although this can mean that any rattles and clangs from the load box sound amplified. Finally, acceleration is very prompt from a standing start, though that tails off above 40mph.