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Politely Applauding The Citroen Berlingo

By raccars Published

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If you've never heard of the 'normcore' movement, just take a look at the Citroen Berlingo, which might have been designed specifically to illustrate the trend. It's all about being average, unpretentious and distinctly normal, shunning passing fashions for something a bit more down to Earth.

The Citroen Berlingo was proudly normcore years before the term was coined, wearing its utilitarian modesty like a badge of honour and, in so doing, developing a rather huge following. The Berlingo isn't fast, it isn't sexy and it isn't luxurious. It is, however, extremely practical, robust and economical.

Essentially a van with windows, the Berlingo Multispace (panel van versions come without the suffix) is arguably the single most useful family car in the world. Newer versions can seat seven in comfort, the interior can be hosed down, the roofline is high enough for a Great Dane to travel in comfort and is easy access even for the physically challenged, with sliding side doors, multiple seating arrangements, storage in every single, tiny cubby hole you can see and a rear door that opens high, to act as a handy shelter if your picnic turns rainy.

While the Berlingo's boxy, snub nosed profile isn't exactly suited to hurtling around a track, its performance is surprisingly nifty.

Released in 1996 as the spiritual successor to the 2CV van, the Berlingo hasn't quite yet reached that car's iconic status but you can't help but notice a veritable plague of them on continental roads, thanks to its similar appeal. 2008 saw a second generation Berlingo with a number of updates, including a more modern engine range.

£1,000 should get you a decent, used example, with diesels tending towards higher mileage. Petrol versions are slightly less economical but the pay off is a bit of extra shove, so work out your priorities. The Berlingo Multispace does have one unique trick up its sleeve in the form of a fully opening electric roof, to give the feel of summer convertible fun without sacrificing any of its much vaunted practicality. It's worth paying a bit extra if you can find one of these - the kids and dogs will love the feeling of the wind in their hair!

The Berlingo's mechanicals are very sound so there's little to worry about there but, as befits its determinedly basic status, fixtures and fittings aren't quite up to the standard of a premium German saloon, so expect the interior to be a little tired.

If you're looking for a family car, it's time to cast aside badge snobbery and embrace the wonder of the Berlingo...

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