Ted Nugent probably would not drive a Citroën Berlingo. After all, the Nuge is American—the Motor City Madman, even—and the Berlingo is French. Very French. It’s got that modern Gallic weirdness that has been influential to the Koreans: check the new Hyundai Kona for proof. And while it is not coming to America anytime in the near future, we kinda wish the Spain- and Portugal-built Berlingo were. Especially if it bums Ted Nugent out. After all, whatever our political leanings or opinions on bowhunting, we can all agree that the guy deserves to pay some measure of penance for foisting Damn Yankees upon us.
The original, rather conventionally styled Berlingo of 1996 featured a high roof and a carlike snout. On American roads, it might’ve been notable, but in Europe, where such car-based vans have long been a common presence on the roads, it was startlingly unremarkable. The second generation, launched a decade ago, was significantly more Franco style in execution. But this new, third-generation machine, set to bow next month at the Geneva auto show, makes that van look positively sedate in comparison.
The new Berlingo is clearly related to the SpaceTourer Hyphen concept of 2016, yet, in some ways, the production vehicle seems even more radical-looking. Scope, for example, the gun-slit headlights. They’re barely thicker than the width of the space in the Citroën chevron that juts up out of the grille and into the car’s nose. Peep the accent-colored foglamp surrounds. Note the deep creases above the fenders and the sweeping hockey stick of a character line in the doors, which arches over a Cactus-reminiscent Airbump bash panel. In typically inscrutable French fashion, the Berlingo is available in two sizes, M and XL. There is no L. Either is available in five- or seven-passenger configurations. In the seven-passenger XL, the third row is mounted on rails, allowing for extra rear-passenger legroom or additional cargo space.
Inside, the Berlingo is just as zany, featuring a cargo pod that runs the length of the ceiling; housed within, there’s 2.1 cubic feet of storage space. The pod is accessible from the second row or via the tailgate, and it is transparent so as not to interfere with light from the panoramic sunroof. The more aesthetically minded could make use of it as a poor man’s version of the Gallery dashboard in the new Rolls-Royce Phantom. Citroën also relocated the passenger airbag to the roof, allowing for a second glovebox with a cooling option, making it a perfect spot to chill one’s teddy bear.
In short, the new Berlingo is a funky, thoughtful thing for transporting families. And while PSA has announced no public timeline in its quest to bring its automobiles back to America, such a wacky, fun-looking conveyance is a refreshing antidote to the larger, serious-business Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna, not to mention the litany of bland-on-bland crossovers clogging your morning commute. We can’t say it would be a smash in America, but, oh, that we lived in an America that would allow for such oddness to be a success. Oh, that we lived in an America that didn’t take “High Enough” to #4 on the Billboard charts.