15 Aug: Citroën Dispatch HDi 90

A First Class Upgrade …

Coinciding with the launch of their facelifted Dispatch and Berlingo vans, Citroën has extended their ‘Upgrade to Business Class’ deal which offers buyers additional reassurance when buying a brand new van. Initially, this was a time period limited offer, but it has now been extended indefinitely, and provides just one more reason for adding the Dispatch to a potential ‘standard panel van’  buying list.

For those who don’t like to ‘step-up’ into a van, preferring a more car-like approach to commercials, the Citroën Dispatch provides the ideal alternative to the standard box-like panel van. Although drivers and passengers sit lower down, there is no compromise on loadspace with a full 5 cubic metre loadbox behind the bulkhead.

That means the Dispatch is more like a car to drive than a van and will therefore appeal to first time van drivers or those who just don’t like sitting high up. And for those who don’t fancy an 8 cubic metre Relay, there is a long wheelbase and high roof version of the Dispatch with 6 and 7 cubic metres of space respectively.

The car-like appeal of the van extends to the cabin accommodation which will seat two, or two and a half if the passenger ‘bench’ seat is specified, and provides a very comfortable driving position. Storage is well catered for with an over-windscreen shelf, door pockets and a deep dashboard top with a couple of recessed trays and a lidded glovebox.

There is however, a serious omission, no ‘proper’ cupholders. Unlike the great British workman, the French are a more civilised bunch when it comes to eating habits. Instead of sitting in laybys munching cooked breakfasts encased in some form of bap or roll, while dripping egg yolk, brown sauce and grease down their shirt fronts, the average French workman prefers to go to a cafe or Routier with such luxuries as table cloths, knives and forks, and plates.

As such they don’t need cup holders in their vehicles, and this being a French designed van, it follows the custom. For sure there are a couple of recesses in the door pockets for cups or cans, but it doesn’t quite fulfil the need of us Brits needing somewhere to sit their scalding hot tea in a plastic cup.

The odd thing is, that when the Dispatch was first launched five years ago, it had two very handy slide-out cup holders, one at either end of the dash. Sadly they’ve now gone. In their place is a plastic blank. Maybe they’re just getting their own back on us for nicking the Olympics, or maybe they are simply trying to civilise us.

The other annoyance is a personal gripe. The handbrake is sited on the floor between the driver’s seat and the door. If the seat cushion is well compressed i.e. if a hefty bloke is sitting in the driver’s seat, it closes up the gap down which the right arm must be pushed to release or apply the handbrake. However, it’s easy to clean the blood off the plastic door panels – although the wife might just think you’ve been fighting in the pub again when she sees your knuckles!

Either the French CV designers are all young, slim and nubile, or they may just be trying to tell us in their own subtle way to lose weight and eat more healthily. Maybe they don’t have any pie-fed test drivers either!

In other words, few folk will find fault with the Dispatch, and truth be told, I could live with it if it was my company vehicle.

It’s also a very pleasant and comfortable vehicle to drive with multi-adjustable seat and steering column, and like all vans in the Citroën range it has a Euro-5 engine, in this case the 1.6 litre HDi diesel. The 90 hp unit may not enthuse the power-seekers, but it is surprisingly brisk for its size and the five speed gearbox is more than up to the job. Citroën claim 42.2 mpg on the Government ‘combined’ fuel consumption figures and certainly a real-world average of 40 mpg is easily achievable.

The other big plus is the ‘fitted-as-standard’ TrafficMaster SatNav device. Unlike some other GPS systems which are built into a vehicle with  dash mounted multi-touch screen, Citroën have gone for the more utilitarian and practical approach with a removable device which has its own cradle in the right corner of the dash beside the A-Pillar. That means it can be removed and hidden although plumbed into the vehicle’s electrics. On the other hand, if the van is parked up, the device can be used to navigate the driver while walking through a pedestrian precinct or some other form of no-go vehicular area.

However an attractive price for the van and the specification is just the start, cost of ownership must be taken into account and Citroën have been addressing this recently and not just with their ‘Upgrade to Business Class’ package.

In the last few months Citroën has undertaken a range of additional actions to help operators drive down the costs of running their LCVs, including:

  • Introducing the even more fuel-efficient and lower CO2 emissions facelifted Berlingo and Dispatch models.
  • Improving the Citroën Trafficmaster Smartnav & Trackstar stolen vehicle tracking telematics package with a larger multi-function colour screen and the ability to call for emergency assistance via the SOS icon on the touchscreen. Touching this symbol gives the driver access to B-Call (breakdown call) and E-Call (emergency call) facilities.

They have also expanded the competitive Citroën LCV Fixed Price Repairs scheme (which includes Genuine Citroën parts and labour) on the following:

  • Front windscreen wiper blades  £24.16 + VAT                        
  • Front or rear brake pads – £79.16 + VAT                        
  • Front brake pads & discs – £187.50 + VAT                     
  • Rear brake pads & discs – £229.16 + VAT                      
  • Timing belt – £245.83 + VAT                      
  • Clutches – from £415.83 + VAT (depending on model)

Citroën has long been a trend-setter in the LCV sector with its comprehensive ‘Ready to Run’ range of conversions and built in GPS and fleet management systems, and the company continues to invest in the ‘Business’ side of its dealerships with dedicated LCV staff on  hand to talk to customers.

 Scott Michael, Citroën’s Head of Commercial Vehicles & Business Centre Programme, commented: “Citroën takes its responsibilities seriously in the matter of reducing the whole life costs of its LCV range. The continuation of the innovative ‘Upgrade to Business Class’ package means we can continue to provide our customers with long-term economic benefits. This is coupled with other cost reduction and enhanced efficiency benefits introduced this year as part of the ‘Citroën Vans – Business Class’ initiative, which puts Citroën even further ahead of its competition.”

“When it comes to cutting LCV operating costs and enhancing efficiency, Citroën leads the field. These initiatives, launched this year, not only benefit new vehicle buyers, but also those businesses running older Citroën LCVs.”

I suppose it’s fair to say that the French get a lot of stick from us Brits, but where would we be without them? They still make the best wine, croissants and cheese, and the new Dispatch must rank alongside those.


  • Review Date: August 14, 2012
  • Price
  • Engine
  • Power
  • Transmission
  • Wheel Base
  • Overall Length
  • Overall width
  • Loadfloor length
  • Loadspace width
  • Loadspace height
  • Payload
  • Kerb weight/GVW