50.000 kilometers with the Citroën Berlingo - like vacation in France? (1)

There are these cars that should exist on the basis of medical prescriptions or on the recommendation of homeopaths. The Citroën Berlingo is one of them because it is so totally relaxing and decelerating. A car built for connoisseurs and cool calculators. Far from any vanity, but with a high utility value. My personal liaison with the French brand started long before Saab. With an early childhood imprint in the floating saloon of a Citroën DS. That remains and you will never get rid of it.

Citroën Berlingo
Citroën Berlingo

To float or not to float - that is the question

When a vehicle with high utility value is required in the family, we see two options. A VW Caddy or a Citroën Berlingo. For reasons of sympathy alone, the Volkswagen is only the candidate to be counted, it has no real chance from the start. The Berlingo, which will be launched in 2018, interests us immediately.

Unfortunately, the traditional Citroën family business we trust no longer exists, it closed its doors a few years ago. Even an authorized dealer nearby, visited for the premiere of the Berlingo, is more of a deterrent than convincing. Finally we book in October 2018 with the PSA branch in New Isenburg a test drive that takes place after a short waiting period.

Citroën Berlingo Blue HDI 130 short wheelbase
Citroën Berlingo Blue HDI 130 short wheelbase

The first meters in the new Berlingo are exciting. Citroën promises, unusual for small vans, a comfort suspension that would like to continue the tradition of the unfortunately defunct hydropneumatics. Would like, mind you. In fact, no current solution from the brand can hold a candle to the double angle of the earlier suspension, that much must be clear.

What is on offer is interesting nonetheless.

The first meters or kilometers you notice a swaying transporter. The switch from the tightly sprung Saab Aero to the Berlingo, these are differences like between Stockholm and Paris. With a worried sideways glance, I try to catch any reactions from my wife. Does the renewal of the French liaison fail at the first few meters?

Nothing like that happens. With every kilometer we find the hinted floating better and even extremely comfortable for a van. The Berlingo pleases immediately, the 130 hp diesel is cultivated and quiet, the 8-speed automatic shifts pleasantly. Although the engine is always present acoustically, it is never perceived as annoying or loud.

After the test drive it is clear that we will order a Berlingo.

Berlingo, equipment level "Feel" with many extras
Berlingo, equipment level "Feel" with many extras

Order a new car – relaxed French

Our salesman is a Citroën veteran who is experienced and uncomplicated. Unfortunately, he is about to retire and he almost managed to pack a DS 7 with him. But only almost, the DS, whatever, didn't convince 100% in the end, but only 90%.

The order is placed in a friendly atmosphere, refined with a fresh coffee. The options list for the Berlingo is getting longer and longer, and in the end our dream Citroën looks like this:

It will be a Berlingo with the equipment level "Feel" and the short wheelbase. A Blue HDI diesel with 130 hp plus 8-speed automatic transmission in black, enriched with the cool multi-function roof, HUD, navigation and DAB+, heated seats, comfort package and much more.

In the end, the list price is well over €30.000, with a commercial customer discount it drops below this mark, and at the very end there is a full service leasing offer that you simply cannot refuse.

The agreed delivery date is January or February 2019, and we actually don't get the Berlingo until March. It will be produced on January 31.01.2019st, 6, then it will be distributed via the PSA distribution network, which requires a waiting time of almost XNUMX weeks. The branch will keep in touch during the waiting period, and we'll be there in near real time as our Berlingo moves closer to Neu Isenburg from week to week.

That's good, it speaks for a high level of customer orientation compared to a normal consumer. Because from the blog, the subject of Saab, Citroën has no idea. Which makes the matter particularly authentic.

The Berlingo was often a guest in Frankfurt's Klassikstadt
The Berlingo was often a guest in Frankfurt's Klassikstadt

The delivery – not quite so perfect

In mid-March it will be time. The Berlingo is ready for delivery, we took care of the registration ourselves due to the physical distance to Neu Isenburg. And as mentioned, nobody at PSA has any idea that this very Berlingo would be the subject of a media report in a few years.

Otherwise the following would not have happened.

The optionally ordered center console has a deep scratch. In Neu Isenburg they try to polish it out at the last second, which doesn't seem credible. The scratch is simply too deep for that, and the futility of every effort can be seen at first glance. Following is the suggestion to leave the scratch as it is. Fix it in the leasing contract and drive the car like this for 3 years.

The suggestion appears to be taken in all seriousness, but we reject it. A new center console is ordered, it is on site a few days later and is quickly installed.

The classic city always offered a good setting for meeting Citroën treasures
The classic city always offered a good setting for meeting Citroën treasures

The delivery itself is routine, in the literal sense. Our original seller is no longer on site, a successor has taken over. The interest in the customer is not overwhelming, but acceptable.

Riding the Berlingo is like vacationing in France

What follows is 3 years and 50.000 kilometers of relaxed driving. The Berlingo confidently rocks us to the Baltic Sea, transporting people, dogs, luggage and large equipment. The hold swallows everything we give it. Nothing is too bulky and you can tell the high level of expertise that went into the construction. Not for nothing is the Citroën a size in this market segment.

What's more, the panel van is very easy to maneuver and survey, and the friendly electronic helpers on board make life easier.

Citroën history - behind glass
Citroën history - behind glass

The relatively delicate seats are comfortable, you can relax like on a sofa and get out completely relaxed even after a few hours of driving. The Berlingo is just as happy on long journeys as it is in city traffic, consumption levels out at between 6 and 7 liters of diesel.

Riding the Berlingo is like vacationing in France, all year round, with low blood pressure and a resting heart rate. Which is due to the absence of any sporting ambition and the comfort suspension, which even turns horrible, worn-out German roads into excellent asphalt tracks.

The HUD is one of the recommended extras
The HUD is one of the recommended extras

The Citroën is a mix of Gitanes and country wine, to be enjoyed in the market place as the sun slowly disappears over the Maritime Alps. Simply French, in line with the tradition of the brand and its uncomplicated vehicles. We like the Berlingo, take it to our hearts. But that shouldn't stop us from telling a few facts about the car in the second part.

sequel follows

14 thoughts on "50.000 kilometers with the Citroën Berlingo - like vacation in France? (1)"

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    6-7 liters of diesel for a new/modern car are clearly too much consumption for me.
    But the story is well known:
    SAAB was/is more stingy with the juice. My TTiD (built in 2008) never (!) used more than 6 liters! 5,3-5,5 liters was "standard".
    But the focus when buying is individual ;-).

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      Yes and no. The Berlingo is a transporter with the CW value of a wall unit, you shouldn't lose sight of that. Compared to my German premium make, which didn't come close to the WLTP value with the most sensitive driving style, the Berlingo is (was) on the road acceptable.

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      Measured in terms of cross-section and wind resistance, the 9-3 and Berlingo don't consume anything either. You have to be fair...

      That's physics. Very simple and incorruptible. A space miracle with a large backpack will always need a little more fuel than a haute couture.

      The point is, neither your 9-3 nor the Berlingo (or any other combustion engine) has ever fully exploited the advances in engines. Even 7 years ago you could move a Volvo Duett with 60 liters outside of town - with petrol, with a lower calorific value and less CO2 than 6 to 7 liters of burned diesel emit ....

      With modern engines, a Volvo PV 445 (Duett) would be a 3 liter car today and would have the same utility as a Berlingo. Industry and legislation have chosen a different path. A car that roughly corresponds to a Duett in terms of utility value weighs 50 to 75% more as a combustion engine today and still has less payload. As an EV, cars with comparable cargo space easily weigh twice as much as a Duett - correspondingly require twice the energy and resources in production and also in operation for their acceleration. It's pure madness...

      If we had continued to build light cars but with optimized engines over the past 50 years, we would have a completely different discussion today ...

      Nobody would even begin to think of the crude idea that a 2,7 tonne EV with a payload of only 400 kg could travel 0,9 to 600 km with a 2 tonne light combustion engine that could carry up to 30 kg CO50-neutrally with just one liter of vegetable oil drives, could be ecologically superior. But that is exactly the point at which we are or could be …

      Personally, I'd rather drive a Duett with a modern engine and 2-3 liters of biofuel than any other shit. Unfortunately, there are no such cars that would be ecologically mercilessly superior to any EV. Get in, drive and save, arrive and get off. This is the need of the hour. But nobody is interested anymore...

      Ironically, it has long been the greatest self-declared motorists who are bringing us closer to the autonomous automobile and ultimately to saying goodbye to private transport in 7-mile boots.
      They are enthusiastic about every superfluous gimmick, assistance or comfort feature, like to buy the entire equipment list of possible extras up and down, thereby setting new standards, making cars ever heavier, more expensive and preventing savings in production and savings in fuel ....

      The industry promises us that it can deliver all of this and be compatible with the environment. If not in the form of a combustion engine, then with pleasure electric. Logically, of course they would rather sell a car of 2,7 than just 0,9 tons with an appropriate pricing policy. Those who notoriously want more also pay more. I have certain doubts as to whether this is the right way to protect the climate. And I have my doubts as to whether, in the end, it will not have been the automobile enthusiasts of all people who ultimately hastened to bury them. Sometimes less is more...

      Less weight, less assistance, less comfort, fewer extras, fewer resources, less consumption. As I said, we could have a completely different discussion today ….

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      When it comes to consumption, we all bear a certain share of the blame. Tom's Berlingo probably runs on 17″ rims, I think 16″ would work too. Would bring half a liter per 100 kilometers reduced consumption. But you don't do it for optical reasons.

      Just a reminder: the good old 9000 and I think the 900 too were available with a maximum of 16″ rims as special equipment. That was already the optical hammer back then, today it has to be 22 or 23″.

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        Correct, the Berlingo had 17″ tires.

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        Good point. But hardly anyone is aware of it and if it is, then mostly it doesn't matter.

        In fact, larger rims with the same wheel circumference cost energy, because the masses and thus their inertia are shifted outwards in the wheel, the levers at the pivot point become larger...

        With larger wheels overall, the entire vehicle mass and its inertia also have greater leverage on the axis of rotation. Even if the weight of the larger wheels and the overall weight of the vehicle were kept at the same level as earlier vehicles through complex and costly lightweight construction, a stronger and therefore heavier brake system with larger discs would still have to be installed to achieve the same braking effect. This is definitely not the way to save energy and resources.

        Incidentally, in (racing) cycling, people are well aware of the inertia of rotating masses. When it comes to wheel sets, every gram is fought for because it saves the riders energy and enables sprinters and mountain riders to start faster and score points. The UCI prescribes a minimum weight for racing bikes, which has been undercut in terms of design for decades. The only thing that matters is where the weight is and how it physically affects the athlete's energy consumption and performance. A wheel set that saves 100 g of rotating mass can cost twice as much and one that saves the next 100 g can cost four times as much...

        In cycling, you can't simply swap out the engine, tank or battery capacity, and you can't scale torque, performance and energy storage at will. Here the human is the only resource when it comes to propulsion. Apart from doping, this resource is used with some degree of awareness – at least the designers and technicians are aware that they are dealing with a finite resource from which they have to get the maximum out of it. If you could say the same thing about automotive engineering, if the industry and politics assumed finite resources, our cars would look completely different today...

        However, the (erroneous) belief in unlimited growth still applies - and it also manifests itself in our 23″ rims. You recognized that well. Thank you for this thought-provoking comment.

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    Yes, a nice report and a likeable brand. Citroen is somehow different and had great cars like the C5, C6, XM CX and BX. However, what about safety at Citroen and how reliable is a Citroen aged 12 and over? Spare parts supply shouldn't be that good either?!
    Many years ago I worked for Citroen Deutschland AG in Cologne for a few weeks. The work pressure was very high for the French at the time.

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      I'll put it this way: I'd rather be in an old Saab than in a Citroen if there was an accident. Such a DS or CX is a work of art on wheels, but it is not safe. But nice for that!

      The supply of spare parts is not good by Saab standards. Everything depends on dealers and mechanics who have specialized in it. Nothing comes from Citroen itself. But it seems to work quite satisfactorily, there are a lot of Citroen classics on the road.

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      My brother has been driving a Berlingo or the Peugeot Partner counterpart since 2005. Free workshop, he never got stuck. With age, typical wearing parts come into play. Otherwise the vehicles were unremarkable. With the first Berlingo back then, however, he had to install half a roll of kitchen towels in the dashboard and paneling to stop the jerking and rattling.

      With my first C5 (Bj 2011) I only had something once, an injector had said goodbye while driving. At nine o'clock in the evening of course. On three cylinders I towed myself to the nearest Citroën workshop, towed the car and threw the key in the mailbox with a short description of the fault. The workshop had already taken care of everything the next morning and also submitted a goodwill request; which was granted, a batch of faulty injectors had been installed. Citroën's customer service was accommodating.

      My second C5 (2016 model, Euro 6 diesel with AdBlue) was largely inconspicuous, but you could tell that the workmanship wasn't quite as good. What was more serious in the end was that the AdBlue had frozen at -15 degrees after a few days in the courtyard parking lot, but the pump still tried to pump and thus destroyed itself. The pump and control unit are installed in the tank in the spare wheel well and had to be completely replaced for 1.200 euros. The Citroën customer service in Cologne was not able to tell me whether something had been improved in the tank with regard to this problem; they wouldn't know. Even the workshop nearby couldn't figure it out. The French Citroën customer service referred to its German counterpart. After all, after several correspondence and phone calls, I was able to negotiate a 25% goodwill gesture from Citroën. Surprisingly, 75% was granted there, but a few weeks later my workshop asked for 50% back; which she then demanded back from me. Citroën was obviously wrong.

      That shook my confidence a lot. I still like the C5. One solution would have been to buy an older example with Euro 5 without AdBlue. With the possible consequences in some cities. I gave it up. But later my fingers got itchy again when I saw a beautiful blue C5 Tourer from 2012 with low kilometers and sand-colored full leather interior…..

      The supply of spare parts for the newer Citroën is good, but it is already getting thin for older copies. A few years ago, France considered re-producing older parts that were in high demand. To the best of my knowledge, that didn't happen. Especially with the XM, that would be an issue with the spring struts and the dome bearing. And: you need a good workshop that knows its stuff and doesn't necessarily work à la français. I can warmly recommend Citroën Bleker in Ahaus.

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    Citroen suits Tom, I couldn't have imagined a Vau Weh Caddy. Does not fit Saab. I look forward to the sequel!

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      I see it the same way. I would not have read a “Vau Woe” story with so much fun.

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    Quote: “Because Citroën has no idea about the blog, the topic of Saab. Which makes the matter particularly authentic.” This means that the 50.000 km test is worth more than any car newspaper!

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    Great report! Citroën seems to have saved something from the old days into the present. I find it generally exciting to discover a new car story here. Even if it's not a SAAB, but that's how the scrap sheet reporting loosens up happily!

    Keep it up 😉

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