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Mercedes-Benz Citan (2023 - )

A low payload limit shouldn’t dim the Mercedes star for those who value volume instead. If that’s you, the Citan is fantastic.

Starting price:
£23,285 plus VAT

Why we love it:
  • Most car-like cabin we’ve seen
  • Impressively frugal
  • Comfortable and refined drive
Where it could be better:
  • Payload limits are lower than rivals
  • Costs more than mechanically identical Renault Kangoo
  • Infotainment screen is a little small

Introduction

Mercedes-Benz Citan

There’s a vast number of options if you’re looking for a compact van, with the Stellantis quadruplets of the Citroen Berlingo, Fiat Doblo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, the identical Toyota Proace City, the premium-looking Volkswagen Caddy, and the Renault Kangoo. The latter is interesting, as it forms the basis of both the Nissan Townstar and this, the Mercedes-Benz Citan.

While there’s an electric model available, we’ve got what will be — for now — the more popular diesel-powered van. And it’s the last new diesel van Mercedes will make, so it had better be good.

While we wait for the future to arrive, the Citan offers a limited range, with just one body length, one engine and two trim levels.

Living With The Mercedes-Benz Citan

This isn’t just a Renault Kangoo with a Mercedes badge. The German firm was closely involved during the van’s development, and there are some significant differences between this and its Renault and Nissan badged cousins. That’s obvious the moment you step foot in the van, where it feels far more substantial than the previous generation.

And that’s before you see the dashboard. The manufacturer has gone to town in the cabin, with a clearly Mercedes-designed dashboard dominated by its 7.0-inch MBUX infotainment centre. You’ll find a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity in there, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, nestled between some very Mercedes-esque round air vents. Yes, we’d like a larger screen, especially as there’s quite a bezel around it, but it’s quick, clear and easy to use.

Touch panels on the steering wheel and a good number of physical buttons, switches and dials on the dashboard make working all of its facilities easy and, importantly, safe.

A storage area underneath the gear lever provides a place to store a smartphone, with USB sockets placed there to ensure it's kept topped up — a smart move that keeps connectivity simple but reduces the temptation to use your phone. Elsewhere, there’s a glovebox, a large cubby underneath the armrest, a substantial overhead shelf, a slot above the dashboard that’s ideal for some paperwork, good-sized door bins and sensibly sized cup holders. It’s like Mercedes has thought about what a driver needs.

There’s just one diesel engine available in the Citan, but it’s a cracker. The 1.5-litre diesel ‘110 CDI’ engine produces 95hp (which isn’t much) but gives drivers an impressive 260Nm of torque. For hauling loads, that’s the important figure, and makes driving the Citan for work a pleasure.

The huge torque makes for a relaxing drive, as there's no need to shift down gears to get more oomph, but the six-speed manual gearbox is still smooth and easy to operate.

It’s a great van in the city, where its compact dimensions, low-down grunt from the engine, and feather-light controls and steering make driving a cinch. It’s not quite so convincing on open roads, as the light steering leaves you lacking confidence in how much grip there is. Still, it’s comfortable in urban areas or blasting down the motorway, which is more than can be said for some rivals.

Mercedes-Benz Citan

Space & Practicality

There’s just one body option for the Citan, which is the short-wheelbase, low-roof model. That aids driving dynamics a little, keeps costs down, and doesn’t affect the maximum cargo volume available — squeeze as many boxes in the back as possible, and you’ll find room for 3.6m3 of goods, which is 0.3m3 more than similar Vauxhall Combo.

However, the Mercedes suffers when it comes to payload, with a maximum of 737kg. When your rivals can manage a tonne, that’s a little low, so whether it works for you comes down to whether you need to shift large or heavy items. If it’s both, the Citan might not work.

The load box is long, at 1,806mm, wide (1,524mm at its widest point) and tall (1,256mm). Access is easy, as there’s a sliding door on each side of the van, while the rear barn-style doors swing open to 180 degrees, allowing a forklift to slide a load into the Citan.

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz Citan

Running Costs

Despite that Mercedes badge, the price asked for the Citan looks like good value. Our Premium model was listed at £23,285, while the cheaper Progressive model is just £21,310 — plus VAT, of course. Compared to similar Vauxhall Combo models, the premium for the Mercedes is kept to less than £1,000, and you’re likely to see most, if not all, of that back when you trade the van in.

The diesel engine is frugal, too, with an official fuel economy figure of 53.3mpg. Our time in the van went even better, with the onboard computer showing an average of 54.3mpg, although much of the time was spent without any significant load.

Each new Citan comes with a three-year warranty, which is about average for the market, but it’s not limited by mileage — a boon for those covering long distances each day.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz Citan

The Citan is a lovely van to drive and remarkably refined and comfortable, with a cabin that’s almost a match for a family hatchback — it’s only the hard-wearing plastics that give the game away. For those in charge of budgets, the sensible pricing, frugal engine, low running costs and unlimited mileage warranty will also hold a lot of appeal.

What lets it down is its limited payload limits, but that might not be critical to your business — it’s unlikely a local florist will need to carry a tonne in the back. As long as you can accept that you’re limited to, realistically, around 650kg, then the Mercedes-Benz Citan panel van is a cracking choice.

By Phil Huff
Nov 22, 2023

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