Citroen e-Berlingo Review: Delivered with Style

David Foo
4 May 2022
 

Citroen e-Berlingo Review: Delivered with Style

Combine all these factors, and what you get is a very compelling and well rounded delivery vehicle that offers the added benefit of driver and passenger comfort -  an area that is often overlooked.

When it comes to small commercial vehicles, Citroen and the PSA group have usually been at the forefront of it, with the Berlingo and Dispatch serving numerous small businesses all around the world. It comes as no surprise then, that with the influx of electrically powered commercial vehicles, Citroen once again has an offering to match the best in the industry - in the form of the Citroen e-Berlingo, a fully electric version of their already popular Citroen Berlingo. 

On the surface of things, it seems difficult, and almost pointless to discuss the benefits of one commercial vehicle over another. After all, these vehicles can be rather homogenous in the sense that they all carry up to 3 passengers in an air conditioned front cabin, with a cargo area at the back - they even sort of look the same. However, if you look a little closer, you start to realise that not all commercial vehicles are built equal, and there are some key features that help the Citroen e-Berlingo stand out as a frontrunner in its segment.

Driving & Comfort

Commercial vehicles are typically built for utilitarian purposes and to provide cargo hauling capabilities to their users. This meant that they were often extremely uncomfortable, with rough engines, and manual transmissions. What many will not realise is that the e-Berlingo is actually built on a Citroen’s passenger car platform, which provides a much higher level of comfort than the next commercial vehicle. While it doesn’t exactly drive like a passenger vehicle, it does offer a driving experience that resembles is quite close to a passenger MPV -  a compliment considering the context, and certainly makes the e-Berlingo best in class in this regard.

As the e-Berlingo is a fully electric commercial vehicle, users will also be exempted from the loud and rough diesel engines found in the commercial vehicles of old. Better yet, users also do not have to deal with the lurching and jerkiness of the manual transmission normally experienced in commercial vehicles. While the benefits of an electric drivetrain are consistent across all fully electric commercial vehicles in the market, the e-Berlingo is one of the few that is built on a passenger car platform, making it one of the most pleasant commercial vehicles to drive.

Around town, the e-Berlingo is virtually noiseless under acceleration, and glides off the line with a good and accessible amount of power. Cutting across junctions and slotting into traffic with the e-Berlingo is also a breeze, as the electric motor provides instant torque - which means that unlike a regular diesel delivery van with a manual transmission, you do not need to worry about being in the right gear or about half-clutching properly when moving off. In fact, the 50 kWh electric motor on the e-Berlingo will produce 134 bhp with 260 Nm of torque, and will do 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds, which is better than some passenger vehicles out there. If you need a little bit of extra juice from the vehicle, the e-Berlingo actually comes with a power mode, which provides more immediate power response and throttle sensitivity - but I think it probably makes most sense to stick to the regular driving mode.

Cabin & Interior

The interior of the e-Berlingo is utilitarian as expected, but it is a well-built cabin that is better than some entry level passenger vehicles in terms of material use. Even the plastic components in the vehicle feel a little thicker than usual and nothing in the vehicle ever feels flimsy - important if you’re putting it through heavy duty usage. For driver’s, while there isn’t a huge amount of adjustment available, the e-Berlingo does allow for minor seat and steering wheel adjustments, which means that most driver’s should be able to find a comfortable position in this vehicle. For me, I found an excellent position where I would prop my left leg up onto the plastic cladding running over the middle seat footwell - providing me with the most “towkay” driving position I have ever employed. 

The cabin of the e-Berlingo, besides being well built, also comes equipped with quite a few useful features, the most beneficial of all, is a digital rear view mirror that projects a clear and accurate image of traffic behind you, and even displays the date and time. Another simple but useful feature is a powerful air conditioning unit that is controlled by reliable and sturdy physical switchgear under the infotainment unit. And yes - you heard that right. The e-Berlingo comes with a digital infotainment unit that supports wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto connections.

Storage spaces are also abundant in the e-Berlingo, with good sized door bins, a massive storage “shelf” above your forehead, an additional flip-up storage space in the passenger side dashboard that is super nifty, and more storage hidden under the middle seat. Oddly though, I couldn’t find a properly sized cup holder - something I thought would be quite useful for on-the-go kopi consumption. That said, the huge door bins should be able to comfortably accommodate a regular sized tumbler. 

Practicality & Convenience

While not best in class in terms of outright carrying capacity, the e-Berlingo’s 3,800 litre carrying capacity is competitive, and the entire vehicle is nicely packaged into the e-Berlingo’s 1.88m height - which means that the e-Berlingo will easily fit into most multi-storey parking facilities. There are commercial vehicles that would haul more cargo, but would likely come with the compromise of not being as height compliant as the e-Berlingo. 

To access the cargo area, the e-Berlingo employs the use of sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle, as well as outward swinging rear doors. This configuration ensures that you can access almost all areas of the vehicle to retrieve packages easily without having to sift through your packages via one access point. The doors and sliding panels on the e-Berlingo feel tough and robust, and seem well-equipped to handle the unrelenting demands of delivery work in Singapore. The bulkhead on the e-Berlingo is also a solid bulkhead, unlike some vehicles that come with a semi solid half height bulkhead with a mesh upper half. This means that your cabin is fully insulated from the cargo area and you will not have to contend with any potential nasty smells from the cargo area. 

For a fully electric vehicle, charging downtime will be a concern, as these vehicles generally pack only about 250-300 km in range, and will likely need to be recharged on a daily basis. It is reassuring then, that the e-Berlingo boasts one of the fastest charging rates in any commercial vehicle at the moment, with the battery allowing a 100 kW DC fast charge rate which will take approximately 30-40 minutes to attain a full charge. As the charging port is situated on the left side panel of the vehicle, Citroen has included a safety catch that prevents the left sliding door from opening whenever the charging flap is in an open position. This is of course to prevent any mishaps where your sliding doors take out your charging flap in what would be a pretty epic incident. While thoughtful, I can’t help but wonder if the charging port would have been better placed on the front quarter panels of the vehicle, or perhaps on the face of the vehicle. That way, you can always open your cargo doors regardless of its charging situation. 

Our Thoughts

The e-Berlingo probably has one of the best electric drivetrains among commercial vehicles at the moment, featuring proper amounts of power and torque, along with a competitive range. It also features one of the most comfortable rides in the commercial sphere, thanks to the e-Berlingo being built on a passenger car platform. Combine all these factors, and what you get is a very compelling and well rounded delivery vehicle that offers the added benefit of driver and passenger comfort -  an area that is often overlooked. After all, if your drivers feel less drained from driving, they are then less susceptible to road incidents, which can affect your business as well. In a time where some electric commercial vehicle formats are still taking shape, and feel like compromised and retrofitted versions of what is still to come, the e-Berlingo already feels like a complete and well thought out product for the future.

 

In Summary

We Like

One of the most comfortable commercial vehicles to drive. Well equipped cabin. Fast DC charge rates that minimise downtime. Digital rear view mirrors.

We Don't

Carrying capacity is competitive, but not best in class.á

Verdict

Great option for small business owners due to the comfort of the vehicle - especially if the vehicle also doubles up as the business owner's personal mode of transportation outside of work. Feels like one of the most complete electric commercial vehicles at the moment, considering size, cabin features, ride comfort, and electric drivetrain.á

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