Mercedes-Benz is looking to build its share of the compact van market with the new Citan, says Dan Gilkes
Having already driven the much-improved Renault Kangoo last year, it comes as little surprise that Mercedes’ new Citan also lifts its game substantially over the van that it replaces. The company claims to have had more input into the compact LCV’s design this time around and it certainly feels more like other Mercedes vans now.
All diesel Citan vans come with the same 1.5-litre diesel engine, delivering 95hp and a healthy 260Nm of torque. In this shorter L1 model that promises to return up to 54.3mpg, while producing 137g/km of CO2 emissions. There will of course also be an electric version of the compact Merc for the first time, when the eCitan arrives later in the year.
With ECO start/stop as standard, the diesel engine drives through a slick six-speed manual gearbox to the front wheels. As an option, you can also specify a seven-speed automatic transmission, for a very reasonable £1,825, which we’ll be trying over the coming months. The manual box is still expected to be the bigger seller for now though.
Load carrying capacity
Citan comes in L1 and L2 bodies, at least it will do when L2 models join the range later this year. This L1 van has a load volume of 3.3m3 and a payload of 666kg in Premium trim. There is no option to load through the fixed bulkhead on this model, so anything longer than 1,806mm would have to be carried on roof bars.
Should you feel the need to tow, both the L1 and the L2 have a gross train weight of 3.5 tonnes, which means a trailer weight of up to 1,270kg. There will also be a crew van version of the longer model joining the line-up later this year, along with the electric vans.
In the cab
There are two trim levels on offer, Progressive and Premium. All models have a multi-function steering wheel, heat-insulating glazing and heated, electrically-adjustable mirrors. Smartphone integration is included as part of the infotainment, which can be accessed through the 7” MBUX multimedia screen.
The Premium model that we have on test adds chrome interior stylish touches, alloy wheels, metallic paint and a gloss black dash trim. You also get Highbeam Assist for the LED headlights, which come as part of a Light package that also includes front fogs.
All of the vans come with a range of ADAS safety equipment, including Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, cruise control, Hill-Start Assist and a rear parking package that include sensors and a camera. They also come with a host of airbags, including thorax sidebags and window bags.
On the road
As we found with the latest Renault Kangoo last year, the underpinnings of this new van are spot on and the Citan also offers a vastly improved combination of ride and handling. The suspension is supple, even when unladen and the steering accurate, making it easy to make your way through early morning commuter traffic.
On dual carriageways the Citan feels like a van in a size above, sitting securely in its lane and offering a surprising amount of acceleration when the road ahead clears. When the roads get a bit twistier, it was equally happy to sweep from corner to corner, without upsetting the load or the passenger.
The updated cab environment feels every bit a Mercedes, though it would have been nice to have had a more tactile material on the rather chunky plastic steering wheel. Certainly, everything felt very well screwed together, although for some reason the van’s alarm was a little overactive for the first couple of days. That aside, the MBUX entertainment system continues to impress.
The Mercedes carries a fair premium over its French counterpart, while Nissan’s Townstar sits mid-way between the two. For some companies that three-pointed star will be all of the justification required, though in fairness you will no doubt retain some of that extra investment come resale time too.
In Premium trim, the latest Citan is certainly a covetable compact commercial. We have builders in at the moment and the van got a universal thumbs up from everyone that took a look inside.
Van User Rating – 4.5
Mercedes-Benz Citan 110 Premium L1
Mercedes-Benz Citan 110 Premium L1
Basic price £23,285 Motor 1.5-litre Euro 6D-Full Power 95hp
@ 3,750rpm Torque 260Nm @ 1,750rpm
GVW 2,230 Kerb weight 1,564 Payload 666
Load space length 1,806 Load space width 1,524 Width between wheelarches 1,248 Load space height 1,256 Load volume 3.3m3
Mpg 54.3mpg CO2 137g/100km Fuel tank 54 Service interval 2 years/18,000 miles Warranty 3 years/unlimited miles