We drove the Citroën ë-Berlingo: a refined space cruiser…

We drove the ë-Berlingo in the scenic surroundings of the Domaine des Maffliers, near Paris…

Electrification is now also expanding to commercial vehicles and popular minivans and family carriers like the Berlingo. We sat for a few hours behind the wheel of this spacious and endearing Citroën to enjoy all the delicious “Zen” refinements brought by electric propulsion, which totally transformed the driving experience of this Berlingo.

The Citroën PR and marketing team had carefully chosen a very scenic route around and in the woods of the Domaine des Maffliers, in the neighborhood of Paris. An excellent environment to get a taste the velvety power of its electric motor, to enjoy the seating and suspension comfort of this Berlingo.

We first tested the M version, which is 4,4 meters short, and thereafter the 4,75 meter “long” version. Suspension comfort and handling is virtually the same in both versions, and the EV drivetrain is identical. But then even more space is to be found in the “long” version, which can seat comfortably up to seven people.

Along the scenic villages near Paris with the “long” version…

A smooth performer…

The silence and utter smoothness of the electric motor totally transforms the driving experience. With its very comfortable suspension, one has the distinct feeling of sitting behind the wheel of a top class limousine, helped by the comfortable central armrest which supports your right arm and elbow, which has the only task to select the proper driving mode on the central selector.

But let us first tell you a bit more about the drivetrain. Citroën selected a 100 kW or 136 HP electric motor, fed by a 50 kW/h battery. Torque is sufficiently ample with 280 Nm. Top speed is limited to 135 km/h.

The driver has the choice between three driving modes, activated with a special so-called ë-toggle.

Comfortable simplicity: ë-toggle on the right for the drive modes, selector in the middle for reverse and drive, knobs for “P” and “B” to the left…

First, there is the so-called Normal mode, where the motor develops 80 kW/210 Nm, striking a good compromise between performance and economy. Then comes the Eco mode, with 60 kW/180 Nm, still quite sufficient in terms of liveliness we found, which gets you further on a full charge. According to WLTP, the range is then a good 280 kilometers. You also have to settle for reduced heating or airco power, but this remains still within comfortable limits. Finally there is the power mode, where the full 100 kW is at your disposal. Interesting of course when the Berlingo is heavily loaded, and/or you are driving in hilly or mountainous areas.

Simplicity is truth…

Of course there is also a “B” knob on the centre console, which lets you recuperate energy when you lift the throttle, and gives that “one pedal” driving opportunity when you adopt an anticipatory driving style, which you learn soon enough…

Spacious…

The battery pack sits snugly on the floor of the Berlingo, so the charging volume is not impaired at all. The M version has 775 liters luggage space, the XL version in 5 seat configuration brings this to a whopping 1050 liters.

The ë-Berlingo proudly wears its badge…

The cabin boasts a further 167 liters of storage space, so this Berlingo makes you truly feel at home. This is a car which makes family life really easy…

… and easy charging

The practicality of a fully fledged EV stands or falls with the charging facilities, and we all know that the public charging situation in Belgium is nothing short of abysmal. Home or office charging is the answer for the time being, and here Citroën offers for its Berlingo plenty of opportunities.

Home charging can be done with the so-called Mode 2 cable, which is compatible with an 8A and/or 16 Amp socket. For fast chargers, both public or private, one needs an optional Mode 3 cable. This allows you to charge from 0 to 100 % in 7,5 hours if you have a single phase 7,5 kW wallbox. This is reduced to 5 hours if you have a three phase 11 kW wallbox.

Super fast charging is possible at public charging points up to 100 kW, and there one needs a mode 4 cable which is integrated in the charger. It then takes merely 30 minutes to charge the 50 kW battery up to 80 %.

The Berlingo leaves you the choice between three connected packages, connect assist, connect nav and connect play.

In the basic assist package you can get connected with a call center in case of emergency or accident, and via the My Citroën App you can be informed about range, charging status, mileage, next service, etc.

In the nav package, you can use voice command/recognition for interaction with the phone, navigation and radio functions. TomTomTraffic displays for you the best route under up to date traffic conditions.

The connect play feature sports Mirror Screen technology, compatible with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto.

Conclusion

Electrification is not an empty word at Citroën anymore…

The electric propulsion completely transforms the driving experience with this Berlingo, and this refined upper class panache makes this family friendly space car even more endearing and desirable. But not only for the family man. Every craftsman or public/private services worker/small entrepreneur who works in urban spaces will just love this EV version, which will be a soothing companion in his daily work life. After a stint behind the wheel, you will indeed wonder how we fared for decades without this full EV enjoyment and “Zen” progress…

Note that at this Citroën ë-experience day we also drove the full EV version of the C4. More about our driving impressions soon…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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