The launch of the new Dispatch just over a year ago propelled Citroen back into the heart of the congested medium van sector, together with its platform-sharing partners the Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace.
But with the introduction of compact versions of the models the three brands broke into new territory by targeting the space between light and medium vans.
The Dispatch 115 XS is actually closer in size to Fiat Professional’s Doblo Cargo XL light van than to many medium LCVs – including the Fiat Professional Talento, which like the Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan NV300 is based on Renault’s Trafic.
The XS is 4.6m long and has a 4.6m3 loadspace, which rises to 5.1m3 with the addition of the clever Moduwork load-thru flap that combines an opening front bulkhead with a lifting front passenger seat base. It also increases maximum load length from 2.5m to 3.7m.
With an 11.3m turning circle, versus 12.4m for the medium and long bodies, the XS is well-suited to urban use.
It has an overall length of 4,606mm, which makes it comparable to larger models in the light van sector below. The VW Caddy Maxi, for example, is 4,875mm long. When it comes to loadspace, the Dispatch XS has a cargo bay measuring 2,162mm (excluding the Smart Cargo hatch) by 1,628mm, compared with the Maxi’s 2,250mm by 1,558mm, while the VW’s 4.2m3 load volume falls short of the XS too.
On the other hand, the Doblo Cargo XL, which is 4,756mm long, combines a 5.0m3 load box with a 1.0t payload, which is in the same ballpark as the 1,099kg payload (including driver) of the XS.
A roof height of 1.9m means the XS, and indeed its bigger siblings, can safely negotiate car park barriers across the UK and the rest of Europe.
The XS is £700 cheaper than the M-sized van and both are available with 95hp, 115hp derivatives of the 1.6-litre HDi and a 120hp 2.0-litre HDi.
A 180hp 2.0-litre auto is up for grabs with the top Enterprise Plus trim.
Cabin quality inside the Enterprise is decent enough, despite some hard, functional plastics, but drivers of more than six foot my struggle for enough legroom in the XS.
The steering wheel is big and ungainly with a flat bottom section, but it's adjustable for height and reach and provides ample feedback around tight bends. The six-speed manual gearbox is reasonably slick, although the gear knob is big and square, which makes it feel oversized. Citroen has obviously targeted its compact-sized Dispatch at city-based operators but the 115hp engine would be a better bet than the 95hp unit out of town, while cruise control with a programmable speed-limiter are fitted to take the strain out of long journeys.
The passenger drawing the short straw of the middle of three seats would have to squeeze into an awkward side-saddle position with both knees invading the space of the nearside occupant. Of more practical use is the middle seat back, which folds down into a table, although without extra cup holders incorporated, so you make do with the pair at either end of the dash. Generally, there is plenty of storage space.
A full bulkhead, albeit with the aforementioned load-through hatch, protects the cab from the load bay.
The level of specification on the mid-trim Enterprise is high, and includes aircon and rear parking sensors. Front electric windows get a ‘one-touch’ operation and there are 12V sockets in the cabin and load areas. The cabin also gets a USB port, Bluetooth hands-free and a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB radio.
Citroen Dispatch 1.6 BlueHDI 115 XS Enterprise
Price (ex VAT) £20,975
Price range (ex VAT) £18,745-£27,795
Service intervals 25,000mls
Load length 2,162mm
Load width (min/max) 1,258/1,628mm
Load bay height 1,397mm
Gross payload 1,099kg
Load volume 5.1m3
Engine size/power 1,560cc/115hp
Combined fuel economy 55.4mpg
The Dispatch XS provides another string to Citroen’s medium van bow and its city-friendly dimensions should appeal to urban operators.