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Peugeot, Citroen update vans

Howdy Partner: Peugeot and Citroen’s closely-related van range has been refreshed for 2012 with an interior and exterior restyle plus more equipment and efficiency.

Efficiency gains behind restyled skin of badge-engineered Peugeot and Citroen vans

3 Feb 2012

FRENCH partners Peugeot and Citroen have unveiled facelifted small and medium-sized vans ahead of their public debut at the Geneva show next month, with improved efficiency from Euro 5-compliant engines to complement their updated exteriors and interiors.

Peugeot’s updated Partner small van and Berlingo mid-sizer are confirmed to arrive in Australia by mid-June, but it is still too early for Citroen importer Ateco Automotive to provide an estimated date.

The Peugeot vans get the most striking external visual updates, adopting a similar nose treatment and chrome-rimmed grille to the 508 sedan and wagon range.

A fuel-saving idle-stop system will be introduced to the Partner, helping reduce CO2 emissions to a claimed class-leading 123 grams per kilometre.

The larger Expert, of which just 35 were sold in Australia last year, also improves CO2 output to 168g/km for the 2.0-litre diesel, which Peugeot claims has the best power to CO2 emissions ratio, while gaining a six-speed automatic transmission option for the 122kW variant.

Peugeot promises both vans will benefit from “technological equipment not previously seen before in the segment”.

23 center imageLeft: Peugeot Expert. Below: Citroen Dispatch and Berlingo.

On the Berlingo small van, Citroen has replaced the outgoing model’s large headlight-meeting black plastic front bumper with a smaller unit capped by a body-coloured strip. Combined with restyled headlights, this achieves a more modern look.

Inside is updated ‘Gazyban’ upholstery claimed to increase comfort and a new folding front passenger seat will become standard on some variants, while diesel models gain a speed limiter and Citroen’s multi-terrain ‘Grip Control’ selector and hill-holder will be offered as an option across the range.

‘Grip Control’ is likely to constitute the technology Peugeot claims was “not previously seen before in the segment” for its vans.

Unsurprisingly, the most efficient Berlingo variant matches the 123g/km CO2 output of the mechanically-identical Peugeot Partner thanks to idle-stop and six-speed automated manual transmission operated via a dial mounted on the dashboard.

Given Citroen sold only five examples of its Dispatch van in Australia last year, it would not be a surprise if the facelifted version was overlooked for import.

Like its smaller Berlingo stablemate, the Dispatch gains restyled headlights, but its new thicker chrome chevron grille design is even bolder.

Equipment wise, the Dispatch echoes the Berlingo in gaining functions like hill-start assist, a speed limiter and ‘Grip Control’ while also adding tyre pressure monitoring as an option.

Citroen has fitted aerodynamic panels under the body of the Dispatch and added a ‘volt control’ feature to the alternator claimed to optimise battery charge management, resulting in a 2.7 per cent drop in CO2 emissions.

With 193 Berlingos sold last year, it proved more popular than the Partner (138) but neither could match the success of European rivals like the Volkswagen Caddy, which sold 364 units or Renault’s Kangoo (294).

However Holden’s ancient Opel Corsa-based Combo van beat them all with 404 units sold. Fiat’s Doblo van, which is not available in Australia, is set to become the next General Motors Combo.

Ironically, now that Fiat owns GM rival Chrysler, it will also sell the Doblo with Dodge badges in the US this year.

In the mid-size van class, sales of the slow-selling Expert and Dispatch are eclipsed by the Hyundai iLoad and Toyota HiAce, both of which sold in excess of 6000 units last year.

The Fiat Scudo, another badge-engineered derivative of the Peugeot Express/Citroen Dispatch, outsold both with 119 units last year – although this is still small change compared with sales of the Volkswagen Transporter and Ford Transit, each of which sold more than 1400 units in 2011.

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