Over the next few weeks, Synergy Automotive will be taking a closer look at the full range of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles. This series begins with the Citan.


Timing is everything, especially when you need to go to IKEA and Mercedes-Benz kindly offer to send you over one of their commercial vehicles. ‘Excellent!’ I thought, as the 90-minute drive to my nearest Dutch (Google it…) furniture outlet was effectively pencilled in for the day following the little Citan’s arrival.

Vans are something that I’m very much looking forward to getting close to here at Synergy, especially as we have so many customers who lease commercial vehicles. Over the next few weeks the team and myself will be getting up close and personal with the entire Mercedes-Benz commercial fleet, so think of this as me diving right into one of the more sought-after fleets on the UK market. The Citan is just the beginning, and as the smallest of the Mercedes commercial fleet it’s also the most logical place to start.

This particular Citan is the longest wheelbase available – logically named ‘extra-long’ – and it’s also a crew cab, meaning you can take up to four of your mates along for the ride. It’s got the more powerful version of the 1.5-litre turbo diesel under the bonnet, so it has 109 instead of 89bhp. Obviously, performance isn’t much to write home about, efficiency is the name of the game here, but this ‘111’ engine impressed me for two very particular reasons, the first being the impressive economy – 57mpg averaged over the two days I drove it. The second reason became apparently immediately – as soon as I got onto the A-roads, actually. Being a van, the expectation is that there will be little in the way of sound insulation between you and the engine, but the little diesel is a quiet, rather pleasant unit and it didn’t wear on me over the course of a pretty long day out. Two big ticks to the engine.

Back to IKEA then, and the expected loading up of the 3.8m³ never materialised due to a combination of indecisiveness and stock. A 90minute journey had resulted in the purchase of a blind and a small silver plastic hook, not exactly any good for taking pictures of a nice full van for you guys. Not all was lost though, it was this round trip that demonstrated the efficiency of the engine and the usefulness of items such as the £290 optional Reversing Aid as well as the drawbacks to the navigation system. Mercedes engineers have – unusually for them – missed an obvious flaw with the 3-and-a-half-inch navigation screen. In the UK we drive over on the right-hand side, but the system is operated with a rotary knob that’s also on the right-hand side of the screen. When driving, you’ll use this using your left hand, and that means your hand obscures the screen and you can’t actually see what you’re doing. It’s highly unusual for something like this to go unnoticed and you have to suspect that this will be changed pretty quickly, a larger screen would also go a long way to making a big improvement here.

That’s been pretty much my only gripe with the Citan. It drives much like an ordinary car, returns impressive figures for efficiency and feels like a tough, dependable vehicle. The cabin is full of useful storage areas and the seating is strong yet comfortable and supportive, and overall you have to say that this is a vehicle you’d be quite happy to spend a decent amount of time in. At Synergy, we offer the Citan both for those who require heavy duty, high mileage use and those customers of ours who just require standard lease agreements. The fact that the Citan comes in a compact, long, and extra-long form adds to its appeal to people with different needs and requirements and this really isn’t a difficult vehicle to recommend.