Citroën ë-Berlingo: No frills electric MPV
Ever since Citroën created the ‘Leisure Activity Vehicle’ in 1996, its Berlingo has been renowned for its remarkable spaciousness and versatility… And now the third generation is entirely electric!
Discover EV expert verdict...
- Value for money
- Based on a van
- Lacking in tech and luxury
- 174 mile range
If you want a Berlingo (or SpaceTourer) you can now only buy it with an electric powertrain , so you get all of the benefits of Citroën’s affordable and multi-award winning van-based MPV – space, adaptability and versatility, but with lower running costs and environmental impact. The only compromise it seems is the amount of times you’ll need to stop on a long run – with a claimed range of 176 meaning it won’t go as far as its combustion engined counterparts in one go. It’s a brave move from a brand that pioneered this class of budget people movers, but a sign of 'its commitment to accelerate its energy transition strategy and the future of mobility'. Available in two lengths, we test the seven seater version.
Citroën say every journey in the ë-Berlingo Electric becomes a relaxing experience – well, that’s true in the sense it isn’t going to be a white knuckle ride with a maximum of 136bhp and 192lb-ft in a vehicle that weighs almost 2.5 tonnes. Zero to 62mph takes a leisurely 11.5 seconds, and it’s not as car-like to drive at the Ford S-Max – feeling more like a re-purposed van but it is composed, quiet and, as your mum might say, gets you from a to b. Despite its tall roof and high seating position, it doesn’t lean too much round the corners and the suspension is fairly supple soaking up the ruts and bumps nicely, thanks to the fact Citroën has concentrated on making the Berlingo ride smoothly.
The brakes are good – having made a few emergency stops down a country lane, it certainly proved adept at hauling in its weight. There is a choice of three driving modes – Power (with the aforementioned outputs), Normal (limited to 107bhp/155lb-ft) and Eco (80bhp/132lb-ft), which also reduces heating and air-conditioning, and to help further optimise range, you can activate B mode which enables one pedal driving. Thanks to a specially adapted power steering system, it has an agile turning circle of just 10.8m (it’s also very light), which is pretty good for a vehicle of this size and handy for manoeuvring in tight spaces.
Range and running costs
The 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack in the ë-Berlingo offers range of up to 174 miles, which is a slight improvement over the ë -SpaceTourer which offers up to 143, but realistically this still isn’t very practical if it is your main car. It is at least fairly economical – if driven sensibly – so in Eco and B mode we were getting up to 3.9 miles per kWh and on average our test model’s indicated range display was between 160 and 170 over our week with it. Driving with reduced power when you don’t have loads to play with in the first place and a restricted climate system isn’t ideal though.
The ë-Berlingo supports up to 100kW rapid charging, with an 80 per cent re-charge taking 30 minutes, while a full charge from a 7.4kW wallbox takes 7.5 hours or as an option, an 11kW three-phase charger is available, meaning it’ll take just 4 hours 45 minutes for those who can support this faster home-charging solution. Owners juicing at home can also take advantage of overnight cheaper tariffs, thanks to the deferred charging functionality. It also has thermal pre-conditioning, enabling you to set the cabin temperature when the vehicle is plugged in to reduce battery consumption in the first few miles of your journey. These features can be accessed via the vehicle touchscreen (on selected versions) and the MyCitroën app, where you can also obtain access to vehicle data such as state of charge, range, parking location, mileage and next service.
In line with Citroën UK’s principal of ‘Fair Pricing’ it is very reasonably priced – starting at just under £31k – although that is reflected in terms of cabin quality, drive and performance, but if you’re carting round a bunch of kids it’s probably not your top list of priorities. Service intervals are every 12,500 miles or one year much as they would be for combustion models, but with fewer moving parts there should be less to replace. With zero emissions, the ë-Berlingo also keeps running costs low for fleet operators and drivers, with a Benefit-in-Kind rate of just 2% until 2025, and exemption from London congestion and ultra-low emissions charges.
The ë-Berlingo Electric is available in two body lengths – M and XL, with five and seven seats respectively, and two trim levels, Feel and Flair XTR. We had the XL Feel version measuring 1849mm high and 4753mm long, lengthening the model by 35cm to allow for the third row of seats – making this ideal family transport. The XL can also be also specified with a five-seat configuration if you need a huge boot for any reason! It features two sliding side doors, 16 inch steel wheels, LED daytime running lights and side Airbumps – first seen on the C4 Cactus in 2014 to prevent against damage from inconsiderate drivers opening their car doors onto yours. To help others know you’ve gone electric, they have touches of 'Anodised Blue' trim, together with the bumpers, and a subtle ë monogram on the front grille and tailgate. It’s certainly not the sexiest of EVs but it’s better looking than the Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life that it shares most of its hidden parts with.
Inside, the only clues to its powertrain is the ë-Toggle switch, which gives access to the Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Regenerative Brake functions, together with the three aforementioned driving modes, and just like it’s petrol or diesel powered counterparts, it retains the same generous passenger space because the battery pack is mounted beneath the floor. There’s a lot of durable, hard-wearing plastics and mica cloth, and it comes with a basic but intuitive 8 inch touchscreen (which includes an Energy section in the menu, providing access to energy flow information, consumption statistics and the activation of deferred charging or pre-set cabin temperature), featuring Bluetooth, DAB radio, plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The third row of seats is quick and easy to put up. It is bright and airy with segment-leading roominess and functionality – just don’t expect much tech or luxury!
Comfort and practicality
If you want an electric large and versatile MPV, the Citroën ë-Berlingo is a good option – allowing up to nine people to travel in comfort – meeting the needs of both big families and businesses. Unfortunately because this is essentially an adapted ICE vehicle, there’s a load of wasted space under the bonnet where the electric motor now resides, they could have also fitted a centre console rather than just a tray on the floor of the car, and there’s no bottle holders in the doors, but there is between 1050 and 4000 litres of available boot space with all passengers seats folded forward (or between 775 and 3500 litres in the M version). The two rear seats in the seven-seater don’t fold completely flat although can be removed.
There are a myriad of interior storage options – 26 in fact – adding up to 167 litres. The ingeniously designed, optional, Modutop offers 92 litres of practical storage space on its own. There’s also a refrigerated 11.8 litre topbox. While it does feel van like, it is practical with some neat touches that the children will love such as tray tables on the rear of the front seats, pop out windows for passengers in the back (remember those?) and full width front overhead storage shelf. The tailgate is huge and heavy, so it’s a shame the opening rear window – handy for accessing the boot in tight spots is only available on the Flair XTR version.
The ë-Berlingo has up to 18 driver assistance technologies, depending on the version. The entry-level Feel model comes with rear parking sensors, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Safety Brake, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter, Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation, and Driver Attention Alert. Flair XTR adds a 180° colour reversing camera and 10 inch fully digital driver’s instrument cluster, which can be configured to highlight the navigation system, energy-flow information or the driver-assistance systems (both £150 optional extras fitted to our test car), head-up display and Citroën Connect Nav with real time traffic updates and connected services (£450 option), dual zone climate control and 17 inch alloy wheels.
If you want spaciousness, modularity, comfort and an easy drive experience, the Citroën ë-Berlingo is perfect. Great for parents with young children, dog owners, couples who love outdoor hobbies and people who need a car which can double as a work van – it’s an affordable, zero-emissions solution. But, and it is a big but, while it’s better than the ëSpaceTourer, the modest range limits its effectiveness as practical family transport. It’s fine as a second car, but where the combustion-engined Berlingo was popular for long family holidays and road trips, this electric version doesn’t cut it with the infrastructure as it stands. Hopefully with improvements to the UK charging network this will lessen the need for planning, otherwise, there isn’t much option out there for an electric seven-seaters unless you had over £100k to part with for a Tesla Model X, or £78,850 for a Mercedes-Benz EQV. Come on Stellantis offer us some practical family transport with decent range please!
2022 Citroën ë-Berlingo Feel XL 50kWh
Price (RRP OTR): From £31,995, £33,370 (model as tested)
Top speed: 84mph
0-62mph: 11.5 seconds
Driving range: Up to 176 miles
Charging time: 7hrs 30m (7.4kW, 0-100%), 5hrs (22kW, 0-100%), 30 min (100kW, 0-80%)
Insurance group: TBC
Vehicle warranty: 3 years
Battery warranty: 8 years / 100,000 miles (for 70% of battery capacity)