Citroen e-Berlingo review
The Citroen e-Berlingo is a spacious, practical electric family car, but doesn’t do much to distinguish its cabin from the van it’s based on
- Very practical
- Great to drive in town
- Interior quality
- Enormous tailgate
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||174 miles||7hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||30mins (0-80%, 100kW)|
While the majority of electric family cars are either hatchbacks and SUVs, zero-emissions MPVs like the Citroen e-Berlingo are ideal for those looking for something sensible, relatively affordable and with more practicality to offer than you know what to do with. Not to mention, the van-derived e-Berlingo is one of a handful of seven-seat electric cars available today.
The e-Berlingo is the French brand’s sister model to the Peugeot e-Rifter and Vauxhall Combo-e Life. All three use the same 134bhp electric motor and 50kWh battery you’ll find in the Citroen e-C4 family car and nine-seat Citroen e-SpaceTourer minibus, among many other EVs in the Stellantis group.
In this instance, the combination is enough to cover just over 170 miles on a charge, whether you go for the five or seven-seat model, while 0-62mph time takes close to 12 seconds. There’s 100kW rapid-charging, too, so a 0-80% top-up takes 30 minutes from an appropriately fast charging point.
If you want to fully replenish the battery from a standard 7.4kW home wallbox charger, it’ll take seven-and-a-half hours. But, If your property has three-phase power and a compatible wallbox, you can upgrade to an 11kW on-board charger, cutting that time down to under five hours.
There are two body lengths to choose from: the 4.4-metre-long 'M' with five seats and the seven-seater, 4.75-metre-long 'XL'. Both are under 1.9 metres tall, ensuring access to regular multi-storey car parks and garages. All versions get large sliding doors on both sides, along with a large tailgate and an opening rear window.
For what is essentially a van with windows, the e-Berlingo is quite handsome, in that functional, practical kind of way – though of course its looks don’t hold a candle to those of extremely funky, retro-inspired VW ID. Buzz. We liked the orange details on our top-spec test car, which were a particularly nice touch and help the MPV stand out a little more.
There are a lot of hard plastics around the cabin, but that makes it feel like the e-Berlingo can stand up to most things family car life would throw at it. Entry-level models have a conventional set of dials, while pricier versions feature the same 10-inch digital driver’s display as the Peugeot e-Rifter – but it comes as standard on the Peugeot. We also noticed that some of the trim feels a bit flimsy, and while living with the e-Berlingo we actually had to reattach a few parts that dropped off.
The amount of cabin space on offer is fantastic, and the sliding rear doors make it easy to load up the back seats, and would be great for those who need to put in a child seat. However, the enormous tailgate is something you have to consider when parking as you may struggle to find somewhere to open it fully. Even if you leave room for the separately opening rear glass, because of how high up it is, trying to load heavier items though into the boot may be difficult for some.
Both body lengths are available in Feel and XTR trim. Entry-level models get 16-inch steel wheels with covers, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, powered door mirrors, rear parking sensors and automatic wipers. Inside there's cloth upholstery, a folding front passenger seat, a 60:30 folding second-row bench and tray tables on the back of the front seats. On the technology front there's an eight-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Upgrading to XTR costs nearly £2,000 and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, black roof bars and door mirrors, orange fog light surrounds and orange flourishes elsewhere. Inside, it has a 10-inch fully digital driver's display and navigation with real-time traffic updates and connected services, along with a head-up display and a 180-degree colour reversing camera.
Driver-assistance and active safety features available include keyless entry and start, a colour head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and front, side and rear parking sensors. Grip and hill-descent assistance, traffic-sign recognition and blind-spot monitoring round off the options list.
As of September 2022, prices start from just under £31,500, which is the same as the Peugeot e-Rifter. However, the Citroen lacks some of Peugeot’s flourishes like the bronze interior trim and i-Cockpit digital driver’s display, which help distinguish it from the van it’s based on. Just something to be aware of if you’re deciding between the two.
With the rear seats in place, M length e-Berlingo models have 775 litres of boot space, which you can expand up to 3,000 litres with them folded down. XL models meanwhile have a mammoth luggage capacity of 3,500 litres with both rows of seats folded, 1,050 litres with five seats in place or 209 litres if you leave all seven seats up.
There might not be a ‘frunk’ like you get in some of today’s EVs, but Citroen says there are 26 separate cabbies dotted around the cabin for an extra 167 litres of storage space. The optional 'Modutop' roof is just one of them; it incorporates a 92-litre overhead bin with a 10kg weight limit, plus a panoramic sunroof making the cabin feel more bright and airy for occupants.
The e-Berlingo is great around town and is ideal for daily family duty. Pottering around it also uses very little charge, especially in Brake mode which increases the regenerative braking and sends more power back to the battery when you slow down. You get a choice of three driving modes as well: Eco, Normal and Power. We used Normal for the majority of our time with the Citroen, as it allowed the more-than-two-tonne MPV to feel responsive, albeit not fast. Plus, it allows the air-con to work.
Switching to Eco mode increases the indicated range at the cost of acceleration and cabin temperature control, because the car restricts both. Power, on the other hand, gives you the full 134bhp from the electric motor, which is best reserved for when you load up the car with people or stuff.
Overall, there’s really not much the Citroen e-Berlingo can’t handle. It might not be the most exciting EV on the market, but it's extremely practical and spacious, with the sliding doors and seats that fold almost completely flat making it easy to load up. The electric MPV’s solid range and efficiency are bonuses.