The start point for the best source of fleet information
Citroen is offering an electric MPV in the form of a converted Berlingo van. But is it really family car material?
Carmakers have been domesticating vans for ages - but the latest craze has been to electrify said vans, whack a few seats in the back and pitch them as family MPVs. That's right, MPVs, remember those things?
Following on from its Peugeot and Vauxhall cousins, with the likes of the e-Rifter and Combo-e respectively, Citroen is the latest Stellantis group brand to serve up an electrified, urban-orientated van in the form of the aptly-named ë-Berlingo. And with up to seven seats, a plusher interior and of course, all-electric power, the ë-Berlingo casts a fairly wide net, likely appealing to families, small businesses and cab drivers.
Before we get into its practicality, let's talk about its electric powertrain. The ë-Berlingo utilises a 50kW battery, which powers a front-mounted 134hp electric motor. On paper, the ë-Berlingo claims a WLTP range of 182 miles, which isn't huge by any means. When fully-charged, we found the miles on the clock to read 164 miles, which is likely closer to what you can expect in real world driving - depending on what kind of driving you are doing, of course.
With that kind of low (ish) range, carefully planning your charging stop-offs on longer trips is going to be crucial. Thankfully, the ë-Berlingo is compatible with 100kWh fast chargers, which can replenish up to 80% battery capacity in just 30 minutes. If you are charging from a 7kWh wallbox charger however, you can expect charge times of around seven hours.
The ë-Berlingo still feels beefy on the road due to its sheer size, but the instant torque and quiet operation of its electric powertrain certainly helps mask its van DNA - and overall, it is quite lovely to drive. The steering is light and easy to manoeuvre, and while the ride can be a bit bouncy over bigger bumps - with a few passengers in the back, it soon settles down.
The ë-Berlingo comes in two flavours and two wheelbases, feel and flair XTR, and M and XL - with XL models offering seven seats. The basic feel equipment grade understandably feels a little more van-like than the flair XTR, missing out on the likes of alloy wheels, sat-nav and a reversing camera.
Flair XTR has the aforementioned omissions, as well as traffic sign recognition, lane-keep assist, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, an 8in touchscreen, DAB radio and a digital instrument cluster. The digital instrument cluster is the best techy feature of the cabin, delivering crisp, configurable graphics that help eliminate any whiff of van vibes. But the cabin overall certainly does not feel van-like, with a neat layout and design that's akin to a fairly rudimentary hatchback or SUV - albeit from five to ten years ago. One element of the cabin that is reminiscent of a van however is its storage options, which is certainly a good thing.
You get dashboard-mounted cup holders, a storage bin behind and below the 8-inch touchscreen, two glove box-like storage compartments on the passenger side and - best of all - an overhead storage shelf that spans the full width of the cabin.
At the rear you get sliding doors, which make climbing in and out, and mounting kids seats, a breeze. Leg room is on par with that of a spacious SUV, and head room is expansive. You also get a flat floor in the rear, so moving about is easy to do. Although there are tray tables and door bins in the rear, neither of these are particularly useful. Citroen does offer a compromise however in the form of its Modutop Roof - which is similar to the overhead storage in the front - running along the middle of the roof and offering rear passengers convenient storage options. The Modutop Roof also comes with two glove box storage compartments that sit above the rear headrests, and these can also be accessed from the boot.
The three seats in the rear can be folded individually for added flexibility and also feature a mechanism that allows them to fold in on themselves and lie almost completely flat, resulting in a flat loading surface through to the boot. The boot itself offers up to 775 litres with all the seats in place, and a boxy, no-nonsense shape that makes loading easy. You also get an adjustable height parcel shelf and the ability to fold down the front passenger seat so you can load long objects like ladders.