The Citroën Berlingo Multispace made its name as a van with windows and seats. When it first appeared way back in 1996, it was a rather crude and simple thing. The far more civilised second generation Berlingo was launched in 2008 with smarter styling, more equipment and the hi-tech option of Citroen's efficient BlueHDi diesel engines. It quickly became a popular model for converters and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) buyers, and today used examples offer real value-for-money. We think the Berlingo is well worth a look if you're searching for an efficient but cost-effective WAV.
Citroen’s Berlingo Multispace has a history that dates all the way back to 1996, with a second generation version announced in 2008. Unlike its predecessor, this MK2 design was based on a car (Citroen’s C4 Picasso MPV) rather than a van and was continuously updated, first in 2012 and then again in the summer of 2015, by which point Euro6 BlueHDi diesel powerplants were featuring in the range.
It's that later Euro6 generation version of the MK2 model built from 2015 onwards that we're going to look at here as a potential used WAV buy, with its lower running costs, sleeker front end and extra equipment, attributes shared by its near-identical PSA Group stablemate from this era, Peugeot's Partner Tepee. Back in 2015, both these models were relying on a package of facelift improvements to move them clear of direct van-based rivals like Fiat's Doblo, Ford's Tourneo Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy Life.
So, this particular WAV is based on the standard Citroen Berlingo Multispace MPV. After the vehicle shown in the video review was originally built by Citroen, it was sent to Automotive Group, a specialist WAV converter here in the UK. There, skilled engineers using the latest technology lowered the vehicle floor and installed the access ramp and restraints, converting it for safe, practical and comfortable wheelchair use.
Designed and built to an industry-approved specification, the original converter assembled the WAV you see here and finished it to an incredibly high standard, using materials to match the original interior to create a seamless finish.
This little Gallic WAV is a lot more pleasant to drive than you might expect. You're not encouraged to throw the thing about (the steering's a bit too vague for that) but other, more important attributes have been prioritised. For a start, the ride is excellent, soaking up the bumps without creating too much body roll through the bends. Refinement's not bad either, despite the vast interior space.
And under the bonnet? Well most buyers ignore the old-tech VTi petrol unit and confine their attentions to the 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel range. Berlingo WAVs tend to come with a choice of two outputs - 100bhp and 120bhp. You'll need the 100bhp powerplant for the option of the brand's ETG6 automatic transmission and the 120bhp version if you want a manual gearbox with six speeds rather than five. A 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine option was introduced around 2016.
The vehicle we have here is a typical 2016 second generation Berlingo Multispace with an automatic gearbox and a 1.6 litre diesel engine beneath the bonnet. The fuel efficiency figures quoted at the time were around 67.3 MPG combined.
It’s an efficient vehicle to run, but you’ll need to bear in mind that WAVs are heavier because of their interior conversion, which will slightly affect the standard model’s efficiency figures and acceleration. Always check specific details on the used vehicle you are looking to buy with your WAV Supplier.
The wheelchair ramp simply pulls-out from the rear of the vehicle to become a strong, low-gradient ramp with a high traction, non-slip surface so that wheelchair tyres and carers can safely enter the WAV through the large rear door. Many WAVs also come with a powered winch that make accessing the vehicle via the ramp even easier. Once onboard, the ramp can then be folded back into the vehicle behind the passenger. Most can also be folded down into the floor whenever the vehicle is not being used to transport the wheelchair passenger, creating maximum storage space.
Once inside, the wheelchair is secured by high-quality restraints, while the seat belts ensure maximum safety for the passenger.
The number of standard passenger seats in different WAVs does vary, but on this vehicle there’s room for the wheelchair user, the driver and 4 additional seated passengers. Versions are also available with just one or two seated passenger seats in the rear of the vehicle, which provides the wheelchair passenger with more space, and also would be more suited to transporting a mobility scooter.
Specialist used WAV dealers can often add or remove seats to preowned wheelchair vehicles, so if you see a vehicle that you like but the seating layout isn’t quite right, they may be able to easily adjust the seating by adding or removing seats for you.
They will also be able to help if you need additional driving or access adaptations fitting to the WAV.
Back at the turn of the century, the original Citroen Berlingo Multispace established a template for the modern van-based compact MPV. This much improved second generation version that sold between 2008 and 2018 continued that heritage and proved to be the perfect basis for WAV conversions.
Throughout its production life, this Citroen’s sheer practicality helped it remain a strong player in its segment - and that's why we think you ought to include one of these on your shopping list if you're looking for an affordable, flexible mid-sized van-based WAV from this era on a realistic budget.
Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle might seem like a big step, but it could make a huge difference to your life. Make sure you ask the WAV specialist you’re purchasing from all the right questions and do your own thorough checks before choosing a vehicle.
The answers to these questions will help you to choose the WAV that’s right for you. Select the ideal vehicle for you via the MotaClarity used WAV search.
Thank you to the team at WAVMOB who very kindly lent us a vehicle to review.