The traditional, older towkay loves limousines because they are a reflection of his business success. When he shows up to meet his clients in his Mercedes-Benz S-Class, widely acknowledged as the quintessential towkay car, it tells them that they’re dealing with a savvy businessman who won’t be taking them for a ride.
But for the younger entrepreneur, a Mercedes limousine is out of the question, for even the entry-level S350 model costs nearly $450k – an amount that could be put towards growing his company instead.
Unlike the older, more established towkay who probably has an MPV (perhaps an R-Class) to ferry his family on weekends, the typical young boss cannot afford a second vehicle yet.The German automaker may have just supplied a solution to the young towkay’s problem – the Citan Mixto. This light commercial vehicle (LCV) is a product of the alliance between Daimler (Mercedes’ parent company) and Renault, and it’s based on the latter’s Kangoo van. The main differences between both models are their bonnets, front grilles and badges.
What really matters is the Citan’s ability to haul cargo. The variant tested here is called the Extra-Long Dualiner, which is 4705mm long and has a wheelbase measuring 3081mm.
Even with its bench seat installed, the Citan has a maximum cargo volume of 2,400 litres and can carry a maximum payload of 680kg. For bosses who just want a work vehicle, there’s a Panel Van variant without the bench seat, which gives it an extra 1,300 litres of volume and increases its payload by 100kg.
That 680kg payload figure is hefty enough, given that the engine powering the Citan seems like a lightweight in comparison.
But despite its small capacity of 1.5-litre, the turbo-diesel is able to muster 90bhp and 200Nm. The torque, in particular, aids driveability because it’s available from 1750rpm to 3000rpm.A good turn of speed, however, isn’t the Citan’s forte. Accelerating from a standstill to 100km/h supposedly takes 13.1 seconds, but in reality, it feels much longer than that.
What’s impressive about the Citan is how surprisingly refined it is. Standing outside the vehicle, the diesel clatter is unmistakable, but inside, it’s quiet – even with the stereo switched off. The cabin has more insulation than you’d expect, because even on the go, the diesel rumble never becomes intrusive.
The Citan, however, isn’t as economical as claimed. Over a weekend of driving, I never came close to the 21.7km/L figure. Despite my gentle throttle inputs, utilising the stop-start function and shifting up early, I only managed 14.3km per litre.
That said, this figure will probably improve as the engine is run-in. When I took the vehicle, it had less than 5,000km on the odometer and still felt “tight”.
Driving the Citan is a cinch, despite its physical size. Both the steering and clutch pedal are light, so getting stuck in a jam isn’t too tiring. You won’t be missing any shifts, since the 5-speed manual gearbox is precise, although the gearshift throws are a tad long.The Citan provides a comfortable ride, too. Unlike heavier commercial vehicles such as lorries that are equipped with leaf-spring rear suspensions, the Citan uses a torsion beam instead.
Strangely enough, however, the dampers do not cope well with speed strips even if you slow down. Apart from that, the ride remains relatively smooth and composed.
The Citan Mixto is suited to the young towkay who wants a vehicle for both his company and family; a vehicle that’s big, practical and reasonably frugal.
The Citan’s Mercedes badges are appealing, too, because they tell clients that the owner is a savvy entrepreneur who may one day give them a ride in an S-Class, like a boss.
TYPE Inline-4, 8-valves, turbo-diesel
BORE X STROKE 76mm x 80.5mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 15.5:1
MAX POWER 90bhp at 4000rpm
MAX TORQUE 200Nm at 1750-3000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 59.2bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 5-speed manual
DRIVEN WHEELS Front
0-100KM/H 13.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 155km/h
CONSUMPTION 21.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 119g/km
FRONT MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
REAR Torsion beam, coil springs, anti-roll bar
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs / Discs
TYPE Continental VancoContact 2
SIZE 195/65 R15
TRACTION CONTROL ABS with ESP
KERB WEIGHT 1520kg
TURNING CIRCLE 12.4m
PRICE INCL. COE $149,988 (after $10k CEVS rebate)
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km
+ Voluminous cargo compartment, smooth and quiet ride, easy driveability
– Uncomfortable rear bench, steering lacks reach adjustment, less frugal than expected