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Citroën Dispatch 1000 1.6 HDi 90 H1 Enterprise Diesel Van Review
Twenty or so years ago things used to be simple – you either wanted a small van, a medium sized van or a big one. Times have changed and these days buyers are simply spoiled for choice. Citroën’s line-up includes the little C2 Enterprise Van, the slightly bigger Nemo, the excellent Berlingo, the Dispatch and the Relay. And what's more, some of these models are available in a variety of configurations: The Dispatch is offered in two wheel-base sizes (L1 and L2) and two roof heights: standard (H1) and high (H2). Its predecessor was restricted to just one wheelbase and one height. So it was with these thoughts in mind that we got to grips with one of the smaller models in the Dispatch range — the short-wheelbase, standard roof L1 H1 1.6-litre HDi diesel.
At a glance
The Citroën Dispatch will appeal to operators in the market for a panel van, though its compactness and drivability around town and in residential areas lends it the appeal of smaller, car-like vans from the class below.
The steeply raked frontal styling borrows from the current Citroën passenger car range. The radiator grille displays the familiar Citroën double chevrons and below that the multi-part bumper juts forward forming a blind spot. However, visibility through the vast windscreen and low-cut side windows is excellent while dual-pane, adjustable, fold-back wing mirrors come as standard. Front fog lights were neither standard nor optional on the Enterprise model we tested, although these are available on other models in the range.
Engines and spec.
The three engine options for the Dispatch are all HDi common-rail diesels and they take some beating on grounds of fuel economy, if not refinement. The 90bhp 1.6-litre unit returns over 40mpg with careful use on the Combined cycle and can hustle a light load along quite briskly. The 2.0-litre engines are likely to be a better bet in the larger models. The range-topping 136bhp engine delivers 38mpg and 320Nm of torque, and is quicker, but this may not justify the price premium in the eyes of some buyers.
Equipment levels look generous with Citroën offering the headline-grabbing Smartnav satellite navigation system as standard along with ABS, EBA, driver’s airbag, three height-adjustable front seats, remote central locking with deadlocks and dashboard control, rear parking sensors, a CD Stereo with wheel-mounted controls and electric windows. The LX derivatives get self-levelling suspension along with other desirables. Sensibly, alloy wheels are not available for the Dispatch.
Access to the generous 5.0m3 cargo area is by means of sliding doors on each side plus twin rear doors, both of which can be pushed through 90° and through 180° if you release the stays. They open to reveal a load bay with eight cargo tie-down points and doors that are panelled to half their height. As are the sides, but surprisingly there is no protection for the wheel arches. We liked the hard wearing flooring in the rear which in practice should prove easy to clean and maintain.
It's worth mentioning that an H1 Dispatch has an overall height of 1,942mm, which will enable it to squeeze into most multi-storey car parks which usually have a height limit of 1,950mm. That said, it’s worth double-checking a car park’s height limit before you enter, as some will be lower.
At the wheel
Get behind the wheel of Citroen’s Dispatch and it becomes the proverbial curate’s egg. On the positive side, the cab area has been thoughtfully designed to make best use of the available space. There is comfortable, supportive seating and a respectable amount of storage space to keep oddments in check. A three-seat capacity is claimed but, as so often in small vans, the legroom for the middle berth is severely restricted by the dash-mounted gear lever which occupies the space where the middle passenger’s knee should be.
Facilities for storing oddments include a cubby-hole, a pull-out cup-holder and a shallow shelf at each extremity of the facia, a shelf beneath the steering column, one beneath the controls for the RDS stereo radio/CD player — you'll find a set of remote controls on the steering column — and two lidded ones above the windscreen. There are shallow bins with a moulding to hold a flask or a bottle of water in each door and a tray beneath the passenger seat. On the down side, many of the storage areas are simply too small for drinks bottles, cans or mobile phones and not ideally situated.
One of the vehicle's big plus points is ease of cab access. Although the handbrake lever is unusually positioned - between the driver's seat and the door - it does not present an obstacle. The driver's seat is height-adjustable — it's got lumbar adjustment too — as is the steering wheel so most people will be able to achieve a comfortable driving position. Cross-cab movement is rather more problematic.
A Trafficmaster Smartnav satellite navigation package comes as standard and allows your van to be tracked remotely if stolen. The screen can be removed and stored out of view in the glove compartment and a 12v power point means you can operate ancillary equipment with another one in the load area.
On the road
Anyone jumping from another small panel van into the Dispatch will notice how much lower the driver sits in the Citroën. This makes access far easier and is ideal for delivery drivers who are constantly climbing in and out of their vans. It can also be difficult to see over that extensive bonnet when parking, especially as the driver sits a long way back from the base of the windscreen. In general the Dispatch does feel compact and it’s easy to thread through traffic, thanks to a footprint that’s barely larger than a standard family saloon. Engine noise tends to be intrusive but the brakes respond with assurance and body roll when cornering is helped by that low centre of gravity. The gear change, though not class-leading in its accuracy, is an improvement over the old Dispatch and the suspension gives a well-judged blend of comfort and stability.
If your business needs to carry more then the Citroën Dispatch is probably the answer. It takes up no more road space than a big people carrier yet offers up to 1,200kg carrying capacity, is fitted with twin side load doors and can seat two passengers as well as the driver.
Standard twin side load doors, large rear doors and a low height sill means that the Dispatch is easy to load and unload and is suitable for a wide range of applications. On the debit side the Dispatch is starting to show its age relative to other Citroën models and the cabin area is not great in terms of space or layout.
Our man with a van
Motoring journalist Adrian Foster has been commissioned to write impartial van and pick up reviews for our website, specifically to help with your decision making process. We have provided him with a van and the spec and nothing more, so you can rely on his views being real and honest.
Adrian began his career in the motor retail industry with Perry’s Group before turning his hand to motoring journalism. He launched the Drivelines motoring press agency as a means of providing high quality journalism on new cars, commercial vehicles, motorsport and the motor industry at large.
Below are our customer reviews for the Citroen Dispatch. Want to have your say? Leave a review for the Citroen Dispatch now.
Ian John Hetherington Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Very well equipped and easy to drive.
David Barrigan Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Great drive and very comfortable.
Richard Morton Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
The Roof bars were missing when the vehicle arrived. I was expecting many excuses and problems. What I got was straight answers, apologies and roof bars fitted within 24 hours. 1st class. The Van is better than expected. It drives and handles like a car. Even for the basic van model I chose, it has air con, sat nav, parking sensors, speed camera warnings, what more could I ask for. I'm a small guy at 5ft 3in and aspect driving compromises with the driving position etc. No problems here. In fact this is the best driving position, and the best comfort and support I have ever had. I've had to amend the ply lining around the wheel arches because at one point there was less then the 4ft between them that I was requiring. But adjustments made, additional panels fitted, bungee ropes and hooks fitted, has made the van simply fantastic. My only slight complaint is that it could do with a second interior light nearer the cab as per my old VW transporter van. Other than that a 99 out of 100 van.
Robert Griffiths Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Great for me but will be upgrading in three years to the 2.0 engine for the days when you have a bit more weight in the back.
Dieter Dickman Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Very nice van, comfortable, simple and easy to drive!
Terry Bryan Pasfield Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Very good van.
Mark Pettitt Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Perfect, comfy and great on fuel.
Clare Louise Stubbins Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Very pleased. Acceleration, even with a load, is excellent.
Gary Connolly Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
All good, not as solid as my old Trafic and not quite as many miles to the gallon as I thought it would be but very satisfied.
Karen Rutherford Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
So far a good work van.
David Mccormick Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Craig Berrows Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Malcolm Gray Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Really good van but would go for the 2.0 litre engine next time.
Peter Hollingworth Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Very good 3 seater work van.
Gary Jenkins Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Good around van,big enough for my needs,but drives and parks like a car
Danny Lee Eady Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Ian Wood Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Nice van that is the right size for the type of work we are doing.
Martin Jarvis Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Maybe needs a slightly bigger engine for the size of van.
Steven Draper Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
The Citroen Dispatch is a nice size van with the comforts of a car, perfect for everyday driving.
Andrew Rutter Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Not had much time to put many miles on it yet, but first impression great load space, lots of storage in cabin, drives more like a car than a van. Bluetooth aircon & satnav a real bonus. Too early to comment on mpg as yet.
Mark Prizeman Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel
Having had my old van for 15 years, Its nice to have something thoroughly modern.
Glen Randles Citroen Dispatch XL Diesel