If you were to ask for an honest opinion about the first generation Citan from Mercedes-Benz they would probably tell you that it didn’t quite meet customer expectations. Fortunately, there is such a thing as second chances in life and the latest Mercedes-Benz Citan has come back swinging for round two.
Still a joint-developed product with Renault, sharing the Renault Kangoo platform, the new Mercedes-Benz Citan has had a lot more input from Germany than the previous model which was essentially just a badge-swap with the Kangoo.
The new model Citan has a completely unique Mercedes design, an infotainment system exclusive to the Citan and like the Kangoo is based on an entirely new platform.
Launching in Europe with petrol and diesel engines, for the first time there will also be an electric eCitan variant.
As well as being a rival to the Renault Kangoo, the Citan must also compete against accomplished rivals like the Ford Transit Connect and Volkswagen Caddy. They have long been the most sort after small vans, but have also come under threat from the Stellantis-made vans, Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Parnter and Vauxhall Combo.
One thing that Mercedes were able to do last time around was to alter the way the Mercedes-Benz Citan drove. It was quite a successful tweak too, with the Citan feeling a little bit more responsive and dynamic than the Kangoo. It’s a similar story this time around with the two vans having different driving characteristics. Adjusted suspension and dampeners make the Citan more Mercedes-like which means good handling and a comfortable ride.
It’s firmer than the Kangoo, but not too harsh to make it uncomfortable. As a result, the Kangoo’s already impressive handling is sharpened slightly.
The rest of the driveline, however, is a copy of the Kangoo but with greatly reduced choice for UK buyers who will get just one diesel engine. The 110 engine option is the middle specification of the range available in Europe with a 94bhp engine developing 192 lb ft of torque. It’s paired to a six-speed manual gearbox that dishes up smooth gear changes with a sharp and precise action, adding to the feeling of the Citan being a dynamic van.
The Citan is a considerable improvement over the old model. It’s quiet, comfortable and engaging to drive.
A reduction in noise is the most apparent change from the previous Mercedes-Benz Citan to the latest model. The all-new platform has considerably improved the sound deadening, reducing road noise as well as sound from the engine. There’s still some very apparent wind noise which is more noticeable when driving an electric variant as it is disguised by the muted thrum of the diesel engine.
All-round visibility is good going forward with no intrusive blindspots and when going backwards is helped by the standard fit rear parking sensors and reversing camera.
On the inside the Citan does now feel significantly more like a Merc than before. The interior is a mix of the passenger car and commercial vehicle range with a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel to control both the digital screen in the instrument cluster and the 5in MBUX screen in the centre of the dash.
In order to underline the differences between the Kangoo and the Citan, the Mercedes infotainment system is standard on the entry-level Progressive trim. The higher-spec Premium trim line adds little in the way of interior modifications with the exception of some chrome trim and piano black plastic, and instead upgrades the van with body-colour bumpers, lightweight alloy wheels, and automatic LED headlights.
It’s intelligent repackaging of the Kangoo interior, upping the perceived quality levels in the interior - -especially on the Premium trim where you get chrome around the air vents and heating control dials, along with piano black fascia elements across the dash.
Air conditioning is standard, along with a multifunction steering wheel, smartphone connectivity, and a wide range of safety features.
It’s a comfortable cabin with a firm yet supportive seat. The cabin is wider because the dimensions of the Citan are increased for the new platform. That means more space for your elbows and knees. Where previously the Citan felt a bit cramped, it is now airy and spacious.
The steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach as well as height, and there’s plenty of seat travel for a small van.
The Citan PROGRESSIVE
Standard features include:
• Airbag, driver and co-driver
• Air-conditioning system
• Armrest with stowage compartment
• Automatic co-driver airbag deactivation
• ECO start/stop function• Heat-insulating glass all round
• Height and rake adjustable steering wheel
• Interior lighting in LED technology
• Multifunction steering wheel
• Smartphone integration package
• Thorax-sidebags and windowbags
• Upholstery in Caluma black fabricExterior
• Exterior mirrors heated and electrically adjustable
• Door handles painted in vehicle colour
• Front side windows, electric with one-touch operation
• Rear door, double-wing, 180 degrees, without window
• 16-inch 5-twin-spoke design wheels
Safety, security and connectivity
• Active Brake ASSIST
• ATTENTION ASSIST
• Breakdown Assistance Button
• Cruise control/Speed limiter
• Double Lock
• Hill-Start ASSIST
• MBUX multimedia system with DAB
• Rear Parking Package, including:– Rear parking aid– Reversing camera
The Citan PREMIUM
. Additional features from PROGRESSIVE included with the PREMIUM:
• Body-coloured bumper
• Chrome interior appointments
• Dynamic exterior package, including:– 10-spoke light-alloy wheels– Metallic paint
• Gloss black dashboard trim
• Highbeam Assist• LED Headlights and fog lights
• Light package, including:– LED High Performance headlamps– Highbeam Assist– Front foglamps
There’s no doubting the comfort of the Citan has improved by the widening and lengthening of the van’s overall dimensions but so too has its practicality.
The Mercedes-Benz Citan is available in two body lengths. But at launch there is just a regular-sized van. The Citan standard length L1 vans get a 2.9m3 loadspace capacity.
Overal load length is 1806mm, while the maximum width is 1524mm. Internal height is 1256mm.
Maximum payload is up to 667kg for a Citan which has a gross vehicle weight of 2.23-tonnes. Most competitors manage significantly more than that due to a combination of being lighter and having higher gross vehicle weights. It makes the Citan’s carrying capacity seem relatively poor compared to rivals which strive to transport closer to one tonne. If you need to tow, they have a 1.5-tonne towing rating.
While Merceds has gone to great lengths to make its interior different to the Kangoo, another main difference between the pair can be found in the loadspace area. In Europe, the Kangoo has a unique loadspace trick up its sleeve called the Open Sesame door – a B-pillarless design to allow long items to be loaded in the side door. UK models won’t get that ability, but they do get the Easy Inside Rack – a series of handing loops in the roof of the van that allow longer items like ladders to be stored. The additional load length slots in over the driver’s head.
It's a shame the Mercedes-Benz Citan has no such party tricks. It is, however, a practical loadspace area that has the same volume as a Ford Transit Connect, but it down on the Vauxhall Combo and Volkswagen Caddy that get 3.3m3 and 3.1m3, respectively.
One sliding side door is fitted as standard with the option for an additional driver’s side door. The rear doors open to 180 degrees. The floor has a protective plastic lining as standard.
PANEL VAN – L1 Wheelbase
Wheelbase length - 2,716mm
Turning circle - 11.2m
Front track width - 1,585mm
Rear track width - 1,606mm
Vehicle Length - 4,498mm
Height (unladen) - 1,832mm
Width (inc. wing mirrors) 2,159mm
Ground clearance - 176mm
Length - 1,806mm
Load volume – 2.9m3
Max. width - 1,524mm
Width between wheel arches - 1,248mm
Height - 1,256mm
Rear loading height (step height from ground to load floor) - 589mm
The narrative that the Mercedes-Benz Citan is significantly different to the Renault Kangoo is best exemplified in the safety systems. The Citan gets far more as standard than the Kangoo.
Mercedes has always packed its vans with safety tech. From the large Sprinter van downwards they are always at the forefront of safety. The Citan is no different with Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, cruise control with speed limiter, Hill Star Assist all as standard. These are on top of mandatory traction control and braking systems. Premium vans get Highbeam Assist, as previously mentioned, which automates the headlights. There’s also six airbags as standard and options of Active Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Speed Limit Assist with traffic sign detection along with adaptive cruise control.
Although the Citan is more expensive than the Kangoo, and amongst the most expensive in the sector you are getting a lot for your money. But, it also pays it back in fuel economy with a claimed 54.3mpg.
It also comes with a 3-year unlimted mileage warranty and 24/7 breakdown support. If you plan to do a lot of miles the warranty for the Renault Kangoo is just 60,000 miles.
Safety features, a smarter interior and a more comprehensive warranty are the stand-out features of the Mercedes-Benz Citan which will invariable find itself being compared to the Kangoo. While previously it was right to talk about the Citan as a copycat Kangoo that comparison is no longer the case. They share important fundamental parts, notably the bodywork and engine, but so many areas have been adapted to better represent what Mercedes thinks its vans should be.
The Mercedes-Benz Citan was launched with a price of £21,310 in the UK for deliveries beginning in February 2023.
Transit Connects and Caddy vans used to be the benchmark in the small van sector, but the Citan can now be spoken about in the same sentence.
The premium Mercedes badge is no longer a hinderance this shared platform van, it’s a definite mark of quality.
+MBUX infotainment and connectivity
+ More spacious cabin and loadspace
+ Unlimited mileage warranty
Only one engine
- Poor payload
- Premium price