Citroën Berlingo (1996): from pioneer to youngtimer

25 years ago, Citroën launched the first generation of the high-roof station wagon with the Berlingo. At first he was missing something.

No sliding door. Not left, not right. No conventional door either: when it made its debut in 1996, the Citroën Berlingo only had two doors. Only after four years did the practical box get two sliding doors on the side. His competitor Renault Kangoo, which was launched almost at the same time, had a sliding door on its right side right from the start and a design that was immediately likeable on the one hand and on the other hand reminded a little of the R4.

Berlingo in the test

In comparison, the Berlingo came across as more objective and at the same time less practical. But inside it was closer to a car than the simply furnished Kangoo. The claim was in the name: Berline, French for limousine. In the comparison test against the Renault Kangoo, the Berlingo won the driving comfort chapter because the seats were better padded and the wind noise was lower. Apart from brake fading, the handling was unproblematic. The payload of 610 kilograms allowed the almost 1.2 ton light family transporter to be burdened with quite a bit: the loading compartment offered 664 to 2,800 liters of trunk volume.

A lot of space for experiences. Which could be expanded from 2000 with two standard sliding doors and an optional folding roof. Inside, the Multispace offered all kinds of nets, hatches and flaps for the everyday odds and ends that so populate family cars.

The engines are therefore mentioned for the sake of completeness: for three generations there were petrol and diesel engines with three and four cylinders, which sent at most mild three-digit power and torque values ​​​​from 1.2 to 1.9 liters displacement to the front wheels. Incidentally, there was already an electric motor in the first generation. So the Berlingo can even feel a little bit like a drive pioneer. He's been an everyday hero for 25 years anyway.

Model history

1996: Premiere and market launch for the Berlingo as the successor to the C15 panel van.

1997: Berlingo Electric with a range of 95 km and a top speed of 95 km/h.

2000: 2 sliding doors as standard, folding roof as an option. New direct injection diesel engine 2.0 HDi with 90 hp.

2008: Berlingo II based on the C4 Picasso with a longer wheelbase, rear bench with three individual seats and retractable rear windows.

2015: Premiere for the facelift at the Geneva Motor Show with a new front, LED daytime running lights, 7-inch touchscreen, emergency brake assistant and new engines.

2018: Berlingo III with 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine or 4-cylinder turbo diesel, in two body lengths and 775 to 4,000 liters of cargo space.

2021: Electric version ë-Berlingo with 50 kWh battery and 285 km WLTP range


A car like the Berlingo is not remembered because of its rapid performance or looks, but because of the experiences that a practical car enables. He owes this to his practical nature. To which he has remained true to this day.


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