The only electric version of the venerable people carrier suddenly becomes available
During our test of the Citroen e-Berlingo, a remarkable thing happened. It became the main model on the third day without warning.
Stellantis released a short statement explaining that the van-based MPVs, including the Berlingo, Opel/ Vauxhall combo and Peugeot Rifter triplets, would no longer be available in petrol or diesel. They will now only be available in electric-only countries like the UK and EU. Combustion would still be used to power commercial models, but family-oriented versions were no longer available. Stellantis issued a terse statement explaining that electric-only in the UK and EU will be offered. Economy mode reduces cabin heat and alleviates guilt.
It was supposed to “ensure the future viability” of these models, which initially seemed contradictory. To get the real story, van-based MPVs weigh more than other vehicles and have a larger frontal area. This makes them more fuel efficient. Car makers are under pressure to reduce emissions. The Berlingo and its ilk were this something.
This does not affect the merits or utility of the eBerlingo MPV.
But what the change means is that the leisure vehicle aspect of the Berlingo-Combo-Rifter range – extensively depicted all these years in the brochures – is gone. This is due to the battery’s poor range. Our test, conducted in freezing conditions, showed that it was significantly shorter than the claimed “up to 182 mile WLTP” of the 50kWh battery.
The range was between 110 and 120 miles. You would not travel that far if there were no reliable chargers at your destination. You don’t want to risk charging at unreliable or overcrowded chargers. It is better to consider 90- to 100-mile hops. This would make it possible to change your driving range from a petrol and diesel car to one that can travel 500 miles. The Berlingo is a city-bound people carrier. That’s it.
This XL model does well in this role with its longer wheelbase. It’s very spacious inside. This seven-seater is one of few that offers both excellent access and ample adult-size space (head, shoulder, knee and knee) for its rearmost seat. You can fold or remove the seats to create a large, high, and symmetrically-shaped luggage area.
The overall length of the car is 4.8m. This is a lot for a supermarket. It also has a wide width of 2.1m with admittedly panoramic side mirrors. The M has a shorter wheelbase, which makes it more practical in the city, unless seven people are required.
Despite its 2.44-tonne weight, the Berlingo is a good EV. The front wheels are powered by a 136bhp motor that delivers a respectable 0-62mph speed of 9.0sec. (Accelerator response can be sharpened or dullened by Economy), but the top speed is only 84mph. You will reduce the range even further if you get too close to it.
The e-Berlingo has a lot of suppleness. This is probably because the chassis folks are happy to allow a relaxed body control in return for quiet bump absorption. You can enjoy a pleasant strolling experience.
Although the XL’s long wheelbase may make it feel bulky, the steering is still as precise, well-weighted and balanced as ever. This MPV is still enjoyable to drive.
It’s a decent vehicle overall, but it has a limited range of useability. Although it is very accommodating, its limited range will prove frustrating for many. The basic Feel version is reasonably priced. It also comes with 16in tyres and steel wheels that are more difficult to kerb than others. It’s very practical, except for one important aspect.