The Mercedes-Benz Citan clearly has a lot going for it, which is just as well because it has plenty of competition, not least from the likes of the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo, as Van Ireland discovered on a recent test drive.
Our 109CDI model, supplied courtesy of the Mallusk based Mercedes-Benz dealership, may be among the smallest vans in the manufacturer’s range, but it is big on style and performance, and in the range there is a certain attractive versatility, too.
The Citan, available in three lengths and with a large load compartment yet compact exterior dimensions, has been specifically tailored to meet the everyday urban needs of trades people and business owners.
Fitted with a five speed manual gearbox, and featuring electrically assisted power steering, we were impressed with its car-like agility and manoeuvrability on the congested streets of Belfast and Lisburn and in the busy centres of towns like Lurgan and Portadown, with the fuel efficient 90bhp 109 CDI engine providing all the power and performance we needed.
Comfort levels were what you would expect from a Mercedes saloon, with the Citan obviously having been built around the driver as is demonstrated by the fully adjustable seat which makes it easy to find your perfect position no matter your size or shape.
The steering wheel, too, is height adjustable, while all controls are laid out ergonomically and within easy reach. The easy-to-read instrument cluster includes shift point display, which tells you when to change gear for maximum fuel efficiency and everything else is where you need it to be, or where you’d expect it to be, all combining to create a practical and comfortable working environment.
More often than not, a van doubles up as a driver’s office during the working day, so in addition to standard FM and AM reception, the LCD display radio offers a range of intelligent connections to help you stay connected while on the road. There’s Bluetooth connectivity to your mobile phone, for safe, hands-free calling. You can stream audio from your phone or MP3 player, connect – and recharge – your devices through the USB port or use the audio AUX interfaces. And there’s even a standard 12v socket in the centre console, to charge tablets or laptops, if necessary!
But, of course, if you are in the delivery business or are a tradesman you’ll want some practical stowage space for all your bits and pieces, and the Citan doesn’t disappoint. As well as the lockable glove compartment, there’s generous stowage space in both front doors, with the option of a stowage compartment in the centre console, in addition to practical head-level stowage running the length of the windscreen.
And what about cargo space? Well, the Citan, as we mentioned, may be compact but it is also versatile. With three different loading lengths of up to 2137 mm and with a loading height of 1258 mm the Citan panel van, for example, offers you a transport capacity of up to 3.8 m3 with a payload capacity between 435 kg and 770 kg.
In order to ensure the generous cargo space can be used to the maximum, up to two sliding doors (standard on the crew van) and twin rear doors which open up to 180 degrees afford unrestricted access to the load compartment. In the panel van, the driver and co-driver are protected by a steel bulkhead as part of the load-securing concept.
The cargo carried can be secured to standard-fit load-securing rings on the load compartment floor. Wooden side panelling is available as an option to protect the metal surfaces and improve sound and heat insulation – ensuring delicate goods also arrive in good shape. And the standard wooden floor not only makes loading, but also cleaning easier.
The Citan comes with electrically adjustable, automatically heated exterior mirrors on both the driver and passenger side as standard, which can be adjusted using a rotary switch in the armrest on the driver’s door.
The Citan is also fitted with Start-off Assist as standard – take your foot off the brake pedal on an uphill slope and braking pressure is maintained for a short time, so the vehicle doesn’t roll back before you have chance to accelerate and pull away.
This is an integral part of the van’s ESP system, only engaged on gradients of around 4 % and upwards, and designed to make everyday stop/start city driving a little bit easier. It’s not activated when pulling away on the flat or on a downhill slope.
The only van in its class with electronic stability control as standard further enhances the Citan’s safety credentials; ESC, for example, comes into its own on slippery road conditions. A driver’s airbag is also standard.
Yes, combining style and comfort with practicality and performance, the Citan certainly has a lot going for it. It is a small van that makes a big impression. But you don’t have to take our word – get behind the wheel and find out for yourself.