First Drive: Citroen Relay 35

Date: Tuesday, October 28, 2014   |   Author: James Dallas

Citroen’s facelifted heavy relay van went on sale in the UK at roughly the same time as its Sevel Sud partnership models the Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer.

The Relay is priced from £19,405 to £27,905 compared to the Boxer, which ranges in price from £19,355 to £29,705 and the Ducato, which goes from £19,995 to £31,845. All prices exclude VAT.

Fiat uses its own 2.3-litre Multijet engines for its large van but the engines for the PSA brands’ vans are the same 2.2-litre diesels with outputs of 110, 130 and 150hp.

Driven here is the Relay 35 L3H2 HDi 130 six-speed manual in Enterprise trim with a price tag of £26,005. Along with the L1H1 110hp version, Citroen reckons this will be one of the top two sellers.

A slick gear change means the big van is a reasonably nimble performer in urban environments, which will make life easier for multi-drop delivery drivers. On the other hand the variable power-assisted steering felt a little woolly and imprecise, which does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the vehicle’s handling when negotiating roundabouts and winding B-roads. The steering column is adjustable for reach and height and 3.87 turns lock-to-lock give the L3H2 model a kerb-to-kerb turning circle of 14.14m, according to Citroen. This is pretty much on a par with the 14.3m claimed by Fiat for the equivalent Ducato.

The cabin contains three grab handles, including one for the passenger in the middle, which is a practical touch and the dash-mounted gear lever makes it easy to move from one side of the cab to the other.

A decent amount of stowage space includes an overhead shelf, glovebox and generous-sized bins in the doors. There is also a clip on top of the dashboard for holding papers in place.The driver’s seat is height adjustable with lumbar support and the middle seat folds down to create a table containing two shallow cup holders.

Overall the controls are easy enough to use but the hard black plastic interior is cheap-looking and pales in comparison with the classier designs now offered by Mercedes, Ford and even Fiat.

The cavernous 13m3 load space is accessed by twin, unglazed rear doors and a nearside sliding side door. The rear doors and side walls on our van were protected to halfway with paneling and 10 load-lashing points would help to secure cargo. A full steel bulkhead separates the load and passenger compartments.

The 130hp powertrain provides plenty of muscle on motorway runs, albeit we didn’t have a load on board, and the cruise control, which is standard on Enterprise models, maintains a constant speed.  It comes bundled in with a variable speed limiter if further fuel saving is required.

Teletrac Smartnav satnav is a standard fit and Enterprise trim brings a five-inch colour touch screen on board.

Enterprise vans also get air conditioning, an MP3 compatible CD player, Bluetooth, an alarm and rear parking sensors. This was supplemented on our van by an excellent optional reversing camera for £225. We also got electric folding, heated door mirrors for £100, LED daytime running lights for £150, a front passenger airbag for £180 – a feature that should ideally be a standard fit, as should the £90 tyre pressure sensors. Wheel trims (£30), fog lights (£95) and a £10 cigar lighter were also included.

Verdict

The Relay can hold its own as a load lugger but is not a match for the best vans in the sector in terms of refinement.

 

 

 



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