When the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner were first launched, the notable additions to the range were a pair of models with more rugged names – Worker and Grip.
The two models stop short of being full off-roaders, but are intended to offer a half-way house and are designed for life in more demanding situations such as on building sites, down tracks or across fields.
The Berlingo and Partner versions differ only in looks, with minor bespoke features both inside and out, so the practicalities are the same for each van.
The Worker trim sits as an outlier to the Berlingo models. It gets all the equipment from the base-level X but then adds a selection of kit that doesn’t carry through to the higher, more road-focused versions.
While some equipment boosts the internal practicality, such as the load-through folding Extenso passenger seat and four mid-height lashing rings in the loading bay, the majority of the other extra kit is designed to help boost the Worker’s ability to head off road. It gets underbody protection and a ride height that has been increased by a small but useful 30mm. Rather than easily damaged alloy wheels it gets rugged steel rims clad with mud and snow tyres. For loose under-wheel conditions, it’s fitted with the Grip Control and hill-descent systems that feature on Citroen passenger car models such as the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross to help traction when things get slippery.
Perhaps the best compliment that could be paid to the Worker is that all this off-road equipment doesn’t make its presence known in normal, on-road driving. The ride is pretty much identical to that of the standard models, and there is no noticeable increase in body roll around the corners.
The tyres and Grip Control simply sit in the background the majority of the time and only make their presence known when needed. The Worker was supremely unbothered by a steep snowy hill, both uphill and down, during our test.
While the increased off-road ability doesn’t impact the on-road experience, it does knock the Berlingo’s efficiency. It reduces the fuel economy by around 5mpg, increases CO2 by 7g/km and increases the 0-62mph time by almost half a second.
It’s a shame you can only get the lower powered, older engines in the Worker at the moment. This 100hp 1.6 is gruffer and less responsive than the newer 1.5-litre 130hp model. It also only comes with a five-speed gearbox rather than the six-speeder of the high-trim road versions.
When those engines are added to the Worker’s portfolio it is highly likely that they will make for an even more compelling prospect. A more expensive way to get the higher-powered engines now is to add the Worksite option pack to the Enterprise trim. This brings the higher ride height, upgraded tyres, Grip Control and hill descent pack and underbody protection, but because you can’t delete the other extra kit that comes with the Enterprise trim it does boost the price by more than £900 on top of the £750 for the Worksite pack. It’s a shame the Overload sensor is currently unavailable, but this is due to supply issues.
As it is, it is a great tool that doesn’t compromise its usability if you only need to head off road occasionally, and doesn’t hold back on its off-road talent if it is required to be a regular visitor to muddy, icy or loose surfaces.