Leisure Activity Vehicle. That’s what Citroën calls this type of compact passenger van, and it lays claim to having created the segment with the Berlingo Multispace back in 1996. 22 years later, it’s rolling out the third iteration you see here.
Set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month, the new Multispace is the first in an array of small vans being produced by the PSA Group. They’ll reach showrooms as the Citroën Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, and Opel/Vauxhall Combo.
The Multispace is the Chevron marque’s passenger version, bringing with it some of Citroën’s signature quirkiness. Just look at the “airbumps” that debuted on the C4 Cactus and are quickly finding their way across the automaker’s lineup.
It also boasts 28 storage compartments, including a multifunction Modutop roof setup and a Top Box in the dashboard (enabled by moving the airbag into the headliner). Variable seating configurations aim to optimize the interior space, and loads of appearance customization options will help buyers make the van their own.
Citroën will offer the Berlingo Multispace in standard and extended wheelbases to accommodate five or seven passengers. An array of gasoline and diesel engines are on offer, ranging in output from 75 metric horsepower to 130. There’s a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and an array of 19 driver-assistance systems on offer.
The new Berlingo and its sister-models will vie for customers against the likes of the Ford Transit Connect, Chevy City Express, Ram ProMaster City/Fiat Doblo, Renault Kangoo, Volkswagen Caddy, and Nissan NV200. It’s a highly competitive segment, as you can see, and the expanding European auto group is serious about defending its slice of the pie – and maybe taking a bigger one.
The Citroën brand alone has sold over 3.3 million Berlingos in the past two-plus decades, over half of which (at 1.7 million units) were Multispace passenger versions. It sold over 165,000 Berlingo vans last year alone, making it the brand’s top-selling model in 17 countries, and its second-best seller worldwide behind only the C3.
Article updated with live images from Geneva