Of course, the Berlingo is manufactured in a cost-optimized manner. You can see it in many details. The paint is thin. Even thinner than the Saab 9-5 NG, which you might think impossible. The materials in the interior correspond in detail to the van segment, they are simple but robust. The dashboard is overloaded with display details that are far too small to be able to decipher them without a doubt.
The display for multimedia and navigation, which comes from the corporate shelf, does not deliver the brilliant display of some competitors, which also applies to the reversing camera. This is not bad, does not bring any real disadvantage and is effectively only cosmetic in nature. On the other hand, it is intuitive to use, reacts quickly, connecting the mobile phone is easy, and the TomTom navigation is up to date.
Well, that's French!
All of this doesn't bother me at all. And because of French, the Berlingo has qualities that one likes to impute to German cars. The basic operation is self-explanatory, comfortable, the Berlingo doesn't rattle a bit over the next 50.000 kilometers, and the case feels tight and valuable. And yes, the little Gallic all-rounder drives and drives. You forgive him the smaller weaknesses in detail, the sympathies predominate and you check them off as French charm.
In addition, there are countless clever details. The thousand storage options from the floor to the roof. The unbelievable variability that can be created in just a few simple steps. Or the practical sliding doors and the fact that this car seems to be able to do everything. It is a comfortable bus for 5 people and a large capacity transporter for a lot of cargo in one.
This festival is supplemented by electronic helpers. On board are the coffee break alarm, the attention assistant, as well as the assistants for blind spots, traffic signs, lane keeping, collision warning, emergency braking, distance control and grip control as well as high beam. It is noteworthy that all of them work reliably.
What's more, the Citroën is not demanding at all.
He gets the prescribed service, nothing more, and otherwise remains inconspicuous. While at the same time my premium German make, with far less electronics on board, seems to be rolling from drama to drama, the cheap Citroën just works. It stays that way for the entire distance. The mandatory service in New Isenburg and at Brass in Aschaffenburg there are no complaints, and the after-sales service at the branch is also excellent.
In the first winter, other rims and all-weather tires are put on the van, the original rims with few kilometers remain in storage until the end of the lease. An important detail that will cause frustration later.
There are no defective, unscheduled workshop visits. Two H7 bulbs have to be replaced in 3 years, and 10.000 liters of AdBlue are refilled every 10 kilometers. Citroën, the reliable, good and cheap? Definitely yes!
Does the Citroën age? He does not do it. In the end, after 3 years and 50.000 kilometers, it is almost like new. The interior is almost without signs of wear, the paint not so much. But the conditioner for the end of the lease is happy with the van. He doesn't see any problems with the return, and we've also ordered a new car in the meantime. He should be wrong.
Small Citroën (almost) drama at the end
In fact, we deliver the Berlingo in Neu Isenburg, with a few problems. He has 5.000 kilometers more on the odometer than stipulated in the contract. The last inspection that is now due would have to be done. And then there are the 17″ rims, which were sent to early retirement after just a few months and are now back on the car. Two of them have curb quirks, but all have significant clear coat delamination in the middle of the rims.
A circumstance that can only be caused by a material defect, because the rims have not experienced winter and have therefore not seen road salt. But that's just my opinion.
The independent appraiser for PSA Leasingbank sees things completely differently. 4 new rims at the list price should be paid, plus the additional kilometers and the inspection. The branch promises a concession with the inspection, but withdraws the concession with regret after 2 days.
A game of incompetence is brewing between the customer, the bank and the Stellantis branch. A second report follows with the same result.
Is the Berlingo holiday feeling clouded by a return skirmish at the very end?
You can tell good companies by how they treat their customers. How customer-friendly is the Stellantis Group? A mail to the PSA Bank, two friendly phone calls later, a solution was found for both sides. I reject a third report, which the bank offers free of charge. I want a clarification, an accommodation, and I'm getting it. After internal consultation, a solution is proposed in favor of the customer.
The lessor waives part of his claim, reduces the price for the rims and even makes concessions where he does not have to.
Yes, you can recommend the Berlingo
The summary after 50.000 kilometers? The Berlingo is a car for the heart and mind. Wonderfully practical, but so different from other small vans. With much more fine charm than one would currently give Citroën credit for. We would even have bought the Berlingo Diesel again. If we still had the automotive life of 2018 and if our driving profiles had not changed.
But unfortunately we would not get any more. The Berlingo is still available for commercial use MPV and with 6 gears. The gorgeous 8-speed automatic has been sacrificed to reduce CO2 emissions, and families should now please drive purely electrically. Says Citroën, and seriously offers the alternative ë-Berlingo with a range of just over 270 kilometers according to WLTP. With this constellation, I don't even want to think about a holiday trip with my family on board. Citroën sacrifices one of its best market segments for the CO2 balance.
Sometimes they are incomprehensible, the Gauls.
If you are looking for automotive relaxation with a high utility value and want to move while floating, you probably have to look around on the used car market now. Which is a recommendation because the Berlingo is really good. Or just look at Volkswagen, where there are still new Caddy with TSI and TDI. But before that, enjoy a Gitanes and a country wine and ask yourself if you really want to do that.
How does our Citroën story continue? We have now ordered. Blind and without a test drive. As relaxed as 2018? To be continued.