The third incarnation of Citroen’s Dispatch van is the most crucial commercial vehicle to be ushered in for twenty years. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, explains why.
Citroen has big plans for its modern-day Dispatch van – it wants to increase its market share twofold in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment. No pressure then! Fortunately, the French motor manufacturer’s third generation Dispatch is a tough cookie and brings a good fight to the teeming LCV market. But the Euro6-attuned submission also has a trick up its sleeve – it shares its latest platform with the Peugeot Expert, Fiat’s Talento and the Toyota Proace van. This means the alpha-males of the LCV arena need to watch their backs. I’m talking about rivals, such as the Vauxhall Vivaro, the Renault Trafic and Ford’s Transit Custom.
In its former guise, the Dispatch, although a worthy and effective contender, was never going to make its adversaries break into a sweat. Today’s Dispatch is a whole new ball of wax, bringing a more erudite design and bigger load capacities that challenge everything in the sector. You get the adroit design, established powerplants and efficient running costs in a van that has found its mojo.
Behind the wheel, the Citroen Dispatch is a handler. It feels less van-like and more car-like. It’s certainly on par with the legendary Ford Transit Custom. All engines are diesel, and the BlueHDi 95 manual XS I drove comes with a 1,560cc four-cylinder 16-valve unit. This means 98mph is possible – far faster than you need to go in a van in the UK. But, the power is there, should you need it. And, with a combined mpg of 54.3, the Dispatch is perfect for the light load carrying duties it was designed for.
A major reason behind the last Dispatch’s acceptance was the way it stayed compact and manageable, in the same way, vans from the class beneath handled. The new Citroen Dispatch van is larger, but somehow it still feels neatly wrapped around you, and it has much of the same dexterity, especially around town. The ride is so much better than before, though, due to a new suspension system and a firmer platform. The set-up reduces the effects the lumps and bumps on the UK’s roads have on comfort, meaning you can stay in the van all day without feeling as though you’ve gone three rounds with Mike Tyson. There really is an astonishing amount of contentment, whether the Citroen is laden or empty.
Basically, Citroen has made the Dispatch far more refined for its third time in the ring. The automaker should also be applauded for its warning about how long you’ve been driving. A message pings up inside the driver’s binnacle after a couple of hours of non-stop motoring at 40mph and beyond.
This new Citroen Dispatch may have a lot of the same stuff going on under the metal as it’s Peugeot Expert cousin, but looks-wise it is very much its own van. The Dispatch’s design team has given it a friendlier face as well as higher headlamps and a shorter bonnet. It’s perhaps a ‘Marmite’ design, and at first glance, it’s not easy to categorise the Citroen into a distinct segment. However, you can tell that it’s larger than, say the Berlingo, but you might query whether it has the capacity to take on the likes of the Toyota Proace or Ford Transit. Of course, it totally competes because Citroen has focused on enhancing ergonomics as well as the earlier mentioned driver comfort. You get the standard high seating location and three-up bench-seat. And there’s definitely more cab stowage room – 49-litres of it in the regular van.
The price-tag for the new Citroen Dispatch is, unsurprisingly, on a level footing with its close relative – the Peugeot Expert. That means you’ll be forking out around £17,500 to £26,500 (VAT-exclusive) for your Dispatch, depending on the engine and body you go for. You can select three main Dispatch versions – the panel van, the Combi van and the Platform cab. The most popular is always going to be the standard panel model, which has the best in segment interior space, and comes with two wheelbases – 2.92m for the ‘XS’ version and 3.27m for the ‘M’ and ‘XL’ variants. The BlueHDi 95 manual XS panel van, driven here, costs £22,998 on the road.
Without doubt, this is the most significant van from Citroen since the launch of the Berlingo van in 1996. The kit is far more bountiful than ever before, too. The Dispatch now has two front airbags, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, cruise control and double sliding side doors. There is also a steel bulkhead and the aforementioned front bench for three people. What’s more, it forms the foundation for the Citroen Space Tourer – a lavish MPV in the French automaker’s passenger car line-up. The third-generation Dispatch’s rivals should be worried – the game has now moved up a notch. Why not contact Perrys Citroen dealerships to find out more about the latest Dispatch van?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Comfort √
- Room √
- Efficiency √
- Kit √
- Divisive Looks X
Fast Facts (BlueHDi 95 manual XS – as tested)
- Max speed: 98 mph
- 0-62 mph: N/A
- Combined mpg: 54.3
- Engine layout: 1560cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel
- Max. power (PS): 95
- CO2: 135 g/km
- Price: £22,998 on the road.