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Can you camp in the new Citroen Berlingo?

In 2018, Citroen brought out a new Berlingo…and we were excited. On paper at least, they seemed to have recognised that people like to camp in their Berlingos.

So, we went for a thorough inspection and test drive. We weren’t aiming for a Top Gear style delve into engines and mechanics, but rather whether the new design made car camping easier or not.

Here’s why you should guard your old model like the treasure it is.  Read more about how to camp in your Berlingo and how to turn almost any car into a mini campervan.

Article written in December 2018

The most important deal-breaking change – the seats

In the new Berlingo, the seats DON’T come out. Instead they have what Citroen call ‘magic flat’ foldability. They claim they fold flat into the floor. There’s nothing magic and there’s certainly nothing flat about these.

They leave a slight rise towards the back of the driver/passenger seats. While it is slight, it definitely interferes with our box car camping arrangement. If you’re going for more of a modular conversion, then you’ll no doubt be able to work around it. We were disappointed.

Oh no...the modutop has gone bachelor pad

The modutop is what Citroen call the £750 optional sunroof with built-in storage. This looked fantastic in the brochure (Imagine looking at the stars through it from your bed). Plus there’s a nifty electric sunblind.

In reality, though, it made me want to cry. Citroen have placed a long strip-light down the centre of the glass – a sort of hanging shelf that interferes with head-height and breaks up what could have been a lovely panoramic window.

Will it break?

Our old Berlingo feels sturdy and tough. This one was chock-full of plastic bits and pieces that looked messy and flimsy. Pull up the driver seat adjustment ratchet, for example, and the handle wobbles so much you think it might come off in your hand.

220V socket...well, that's good, isn't it?

Perfect for car camping? Except that none of the three dealers we spoke to could explain how it was powered. On a campervan with a 220V socket, you use hook-up to give you electricity.

There’s no hook-up point on the Berlingo, so it has to be coming from the car battery. One of the dealers ‘guessed’; there’d be an inverter, but the best we could get after that was “maybe you’ll only be able to use the socket if the engine’s running”

No, no, no to the nasty console

In the old Berlingo, there's a box between the passenger and driver seat that can be removed. You get more room and can put something more useful there if needs be. In the new model, you're stuck with a big, ugly console that doesn’t come out. It immediately limits movement (no more squeezing a little 12V coolbox in there, for example).

Howgill Lodge

Snap up an old Berlingo now!

The new Berlingo starts at around £19,000, but you’re sure to want to add on lots of extras. We were actually ready to trade in. Now we're not. All in all, the new Berlingo didn’t give us the feeling of freedom and adaptability that we love about our old one.

It’s worth noting too that there’s no point looking at the new Peugeot Rifter (updated Tepee) or the Vauxhall ComboLife, because these are all made in the same factory using the same design (bar a few tweaks).

The good news is that you can start snapping up old-style Berlingos for a better price. Have a look at our article on using the Berlingo as a mini campervan. And do share your thoughts and questions.

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  1. Andrew Rowley

    Hi,i was thinking of getting a new rifter long and removing the rear seats entirely- should imagine its a simple job of a few bolts….or isn’t it? The extra length has got to be good. Oh and a nice petrol engine with no dpf to go wrong! Cheers Andrew

  2. The long centre console is indeed loathsome, but it is an option. Just avoid it.

  3. I have a older facelift version of a mk1 berlingo van, its panelled out in the back and accepts a double blow up bed and everything you’d need for a couple of nights camp, at just £1000 and also serving as my works van you can’t go wrong., the original Berlin go multisoace is also another option, extremely cheap! The dw8 diesel engine is the most reliable engine of any Berlingo ever made it’ll take you anywhere unlike the newer vans!

  4. Thank you for the tips on Berlingo camping! Which model date should I be looking at for the good one and which to avoid? Many thanks.ED: The new Berlingo came out in 2018, so anything before that should be fine. You’ll be able to tell when you look at the model as the rear seats don’t remove from the new one. Glad we could help!

  5. I use an older (£1000) Citroen Picasso and take out the removable 3 rear seats. This gives a 6ft long space for an air bed. It is very inconspicuous and looks like a ‘normal’ vehicle.

  6. I wonder if you can spec a new Berlingo van in a good way to be a camper. Flat floor if you don’t ever want seats or the three seats in the front option. Not sure about windows and bulk head removal. ED: Good idea. I think, though, that the reason many people like/liked the older style Berlingo car was that the finish inside was so comfortable and there were things like the storage compartments that were useful. And, of course, the flexibility to have it as a car the rest of the time was a huge plus. A lotof this is about ease of camping without a big outlay. Once you start speccing a van and having structural changes, it all gets a lot more serious.

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