The new Mercedes-Benz Citan – and why it’s destined to be a big hit
Story: John Griffiths, industry correspondent
The new Mercedes-Benz Citan light van range, the company’s first venture into the sector since the demise of the Vaneo seven years ago, is to go on sale in the UK from January next year, three months after its launch in mainland Europe. The launch schedule was confirmed by the head of the company’s van division, Volker Mornhinweg, on the eve of the Amsterdam commercial vehicle show.
The Citan, developed jointly with Renault and to be built at the French partner’s Maubeuge plant in northern France near the Belgian border, will come in three wheelbases, five body configurations and gross weights of up to 2.2 tonnes. The largest versions will thus overlap slightly with the mid-size Vito range but will provide Mercedes-Benz “with the full family of vans” ranging from the smallest, Renault Kangoo-sized Citan up to the largest long-wheelbase Sprinter and 6-8 tonnes Vario models, said Mornhinweg.
Renault’s versions of the vans, expected to be the next-generation Kangoo, will enter Europe’s light van market – one of the few sectors currently enjoying robust growth – shortly after the Citan. Comprehensive details of the structure of the Renault range have yet to emerge, however.
The Citan itself (the name is a combination of “City” and “Titan”) represents substantially more than badge engineering, with considerable body panel and dynamic behaviour engineering changes as well as what Mornhinweg described as “enhancements” of the Renault-produced engine range to include a Mercedes’ “BlueEFFICIENCY” low fuel consumption petrol-engined variant including engine start/stop and low rolling resistance tyres. “We want it to look and, in driving, to feel like a Mercedes,” he told BCM.
The Citan is the first product of a broad collaboration agreement and minor share-swap between the German and French companies signed in 2010 and which some industry observers expect to result in further jointly-engineered and produced projects. Mercedes-Benz has been sharply expanding its own van production capacity around the world during the past few years.
The Citan range comprises:
- Body lengths of 3.94, 4.32 and 4.71 metres of basic panel van design;
- A five-seater “Mixto” version based on the longest-wheelbase model with folding rear seat bench, wire mesh partition separating the load compartment and two sliding doors;
- A mid-sized “crewbus” also with five seats and optional twin sliding doors, and with rear windows. It is thus similar in concept to Renault’s Kangoo, Citroen’s Berlingo Multispace and Fiat’s Doblo “people carriers”;
- Optional lifting tailgate instead of twin rear-end doors;
- All have available four engine choices: three direct-injection turbodiesels of between 75 and 110bhp, and a supercharged petrol unit of 115bhp;
- Five- or six-speed manual gearboxes.
With the Citan not due to be unveiled to the public until the Hannover commercial vehicle show in the autumn (only media were given a sneak preview at Amsterdam), Mercedes executives declined today to give details of either fuel consumption or CO2 emissions. “But you can bet that they will be fully competitive,” said one engineer at the briefing. Service intervals will be up to 24,000 miles or two years. An all-electric version is under serious consideration, but tentative plans for LNG and propane gas models have been discarded due to projected lack of demand.