Citan carries an air of superiority

Mercedes' new Citan is based upon a Renault Kangoo
Mercedes' new Citan is based upon a Renault Kangoo
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MERCEDES’ new Citan is based upon a Renault – but if you think it’s just a Kangoo with knobs on then you’d be sorely mistaken. Although built by the French firm, the Citan is effectively a new van and certainly worth the £3,000 premium over the French effort – and not simply to boast that German pointed star badge on your drive.

Mercedes has fully re-engineered and restyled the Kangoo to turn a good van into a highly desirable one. Citan is a range in its own right and offers versions Renault doesn’t with Kangoo. One example is the Compact, a stubby short wheelbase variant, ideal for town work, that Renault dropped a while back. Also, the standard equipment line-up is significantly different, as are option and accessory choices. In fact, Mercedes says that if a Kangoo was upgraded to match the Citan, it could be more expensive to put on the road.

Mercedes also points out that by re-engineering the Kangoo, it can offer a longer warranty period (36-month, unlimited mileage) while the German’s MobiloVan aftercare and rescue package can run for up to 30 years, not the 24-year deal in the case of Renault’s plan. As a result, Mercedes-Benz claims the Citan’s resale residuals (and so leasing plans) will also be superior and more attractive. Indeed, the German manufacturer says the cost of running a Citan can be as little as £6.95 a day – about the same as three bacon butties.

Given that Mercedes and Volkswagen have a partnership to make the VW Crafter and the Mercedes Sprinter, you wonder why it didn’t base its new van on the Golf-derived Caddy. Simple, says Mercedes, Caddy is already premium-priced and so “making a Merc” out of one would have resulted in too high screen prices. The Kangoo, on the other hand, is budget-priced and so gave the Germans room to play. Mercedes is at pains to point out that the Citan is on a different level to the Renault in terms of build quality. In fact, initial unsatisfactory quality delayed the original schedule to introduce it late last year. Mechanical changes are numerous; the engines have been improved for more power with fewer emissions while the suspension has been completely returned for better handling and refinement.

A brief drive in a Citan Dualiner (a useful five-seater that can be used for social and business use) proves that this is no idle boast. It’s a lot smoother and quieter than the equivalent Kangoo, helped by a completely redesigned cab that looks and feels like a Mercedes.

Mercedes won’t take the electric hybrid Kangoo ZE derivative but has retuned the diesel engines to fall into line with its Blue Efficiency philosophy which aids economy and emissions. A single petrol unit is also available. As Renault doesn’t offer automatic transmission on the Kangoo, there will be no self-shifting Citan either – a first for Mercedes?

Prices start from £13,095 with a special Trade Edition model priced at less than £200 per month, after a one-off payment of £585. That said, an 
option-loaded top model can touch the £20,000 mark. Still, if you’ve always wanted to use a Merc for work but 
considered the Vito too large and 
expensive, Citan’s your man.

VITAL STATS

VAN Mercedes-Benz Citan 109 Cdi Blue Efficiency Dualiner

PRICE £16,295

WARRANTY Three years

SERVICE INTERVAL 18,000 miles

LOAD LENGTH 1753 mm

LOAD WIDTH (max) 1219mm

LOAD HEIGHT 1128 mm

PAYLOAD 755 kg

ECONOMY 65.7 mpg

CO2 EMISSIONS 112 g/km