If the fashion for owning versatile MPV people carriers ever goes away Citroen will be in trouble. Their current range is dominated by them and another one, the small Nemo Multispace, has just been added to the line-up.
In addition to family or business use these models have great appeal to the less able because of these ease of access, flexible load space, fuel efficiency and good visibility and they are available for Mobility Scheme customers.
The Citroon MPV choice now includes the newly launched, compact, but roomy C3 Picasso and Nemo Multispace models, which join the existing Berlingo First Multispace, New Berlingo Multispace (newly available in 7-seat format), C3 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso, C8 and Dispatch Combi. This wide choice of Citroon MPVs provides an unrivalled range of people-carrying options in the up-to 9 seat sector.
The new Nemo Multispace offers a combination of compact external dimensions, massive internal space and exceptional visibility. The Nemo Multispace also provides the benefits of ease of access, exceptional headroom and the option of Citroon's SensoDrive, two pedal automated manual transmission, which further improves the Nemo Multispace's fuel economy and reduces emissions.
The Nemo range has budget prices starting from £9,995 for the 1.4-litre 75bhp petrol model rising to £10,995 for the £10,995 1.4HDI, 70bhp turbodiesel version and this version is also available with the SensoDrive automated manual transmission at £11,795 and of course Citroen are major players with their version of the £2,000 scrappage scheme so a new Nemo can be had for an appealing £7,995.
Offered in one trim level, the Nemo, which is a sister range to the Peugeot Bipper Tepee (due in September) and the Fiat Qubo will appeal to drivers looking for a simple vehicle with functionality and space for the whole family.
Being based on a commercial vehicle structure they are not the most refined of vehicles to drive but they do have the equipment levels of a modern small family car.
Functional the new Nemo Multispace may be it doesn't lack creature comforts with remote central locking, electric windows, power steering, split rear seats, 4 airbags, trip computer and even 'guide me home' lights fitted as standard.
The Nemo Multispace's protruding lower nose married to a compact box shaped passenger compartment gives the vehicle a distinctive appearance which neatly marries fun and functionality. The compact overall length is 3,959mm, width 1,816mm, height 1,721 so it fits neatly into the 'supermini' or B-segment car sector.
The wide and deep windscreen, low level side glass areas and the huge tailgate rear window, plus large door mirrors, allows impressive visibility from the inside and gives the Nemo Multispace its signature Citroon MPV character.
With its chunky two-tone front and rear bumpers, sculpted wheel arches and black side rubbing strips the car has an 'active' appearance. The clear-lens headlamps and large chevrons communicate robustness and purpose.
Twin sliding doors in the rear provide an easy, wide access point for passengers, even in restricted locations. The large tailgate, with the Citroon chevrons prominently positioned in the centre, provides convenient, low-threshold loading and easy access to the car's contents.
A car designed for being at home in the urban environment, the Nemo Multispace's compact size and tight - sub 10 metre - turning circle offers drivers agile city mobility whilst the car is capable of providing smooth, long distance running and good fuel economy on the open road.
Despite its compact length the Nemo Multispace manages to pack a surprising amount of internal room with nearly 1,700mm of cabin length offering generous elbow and headroom in both the front and rear. The smart design of the seats offer both comfort and support, whilst the rear seats, mounted 40mm higher than the front ones, give passengers a clear view ahead.
For those in need of more space than the Nemo Multispace's already impressive 360-litre boot volume, can be increased to either 740-litres with rear seats folded or massive 2,500-litres with the rear seats completely removed. For added convenience the removable luggage shelf can be stored behind the back of the rear bench.
Offering users flexible functionality, there are numerous convenient stowage compartments positioned throughout the cabin with 12 locations at the front to meet a range of requirements. The rugged PVC cabin floor covering underlines the car's practical personality.
With a high-mounted gear lever, situated close to the steering wheel, along with ergonomically located controls and driving aids, users will find the Nemo a friendly to use do it all people or load carrier ideal for private and owner-operator business users.
Visibility as I've said is excellent and drivers can easily find a comfortable setting thanks to a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, height and lumbar adjustable seat and armrest.
Making driving easier and more enjoyable, variable power assisted steering is fitted as standard and for convenience on the move, there are also front electric windows, as well as electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors.
Keeping occupants cool on warm days, the Nemo Multispace can also be fitted with air-conditioning which is £500 option as are rear parking sensors which are a worthwhile £200 addition and a Bluetoorth telephone connectivity kit adds another £180.
But the Nemo Multispace is fitted with smart equipment for entertainment on the move. There is a high-quality audio system with four loudspeakers and an RDS stereo radio with MP3-compatible CD player for hours of music playback.
A handy 12V socket in the front also allows users to power electronic devices. Convenience items such as a trip computer and guide me home headlights are standard
A typically Citroon touch, the Multispace features a removable torch mounted in the boot which also doubles as the boot light. When removed from its mounting the smart gadget provides a useful portable light source and is recharged when placed back in its cradle.
The 1.4-litre 75bhp petrol engine with 87lb ft of torque will officially return 42.2mpg on average but the CO2 emissions are relatively high at 165g/km which means a road tax bill of £150.
The advantage this engine has over the 1.4-litre diesel is the better performance, a slightly higher top speed of 96mph and a 0-62mph time of 16.2 seconds, not good but better than the diesel version.
However the 1.4-litre, 70bhp, 118lb ft HDi turbocharged diesel unit, which I know costs a £1,000 more does score for much better fuel economy of 62.8mpg on the combined cycle with a range of around 620 miles on its 9.9-gallon tank.
Thanks to the engine's low CO2 emissions of just 119g/km, the HDi model comes with Citroon's Airdream label, a special eco-signature only bestowed on the Company's most environmentally conscious vehicles.
The low CO2 emissions also mean drivers can benefit from the low £35 road fund licence. My test car's overall average fuel consumption was 55mpg for typical day to day driving, runs into town, open country roads and some motorway mileage.
But having good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions does limit the performance. Top speed, which isn't really important, is 94mpg but the 0-62mph time is 18.2 seconds and it seems even slower. The problem is that to gain good mpg figures and low CO2 emissions the gearing is so tall the performance suffers.
The advantage a turbodiesel unit brings with low-down 'grunt' and responsiveness has gone and I found it very frustrating to drive in stop start traffic or turning into urban side streets where I would expect a diesel unit to pull away without hesitation, I'm afraid this frugal unit does not do that.
The Nemo Multispace is equipped with ABS, driver and passenger airbags as well as front lateral airbags as standard. The imposing, robust design of the bonnet and front bumpers also offers strength and rigidity whilst rear fog lights and a high-level third brake light ensure optimum visibility to other road users.
Unfortunately stability control is not fitted or offered as an option but soon it will have to be by European law and it has become a requirement to gain a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. I'm afraid it commercial vehicle ancestry does show up in performance, ride comfort, road holding and stability.
Better news on the safety front for the secure fitment of child seats there are two Isofix anchor points on the two outer rear seats and an automatic door locking feature is installed that activates when the vehicle is in motion. Remote central locking and an immobiliser are also fitted as standard.
All Nemo Multispace models are insurance group 2E, with 20,000 mile service intervals so coupled with their fuel efficient engines running costs are another reason to buy.
In short the Nemo scores for functionality at a reasonable price. It does however offer little in the way of driving pleasure.
Citroen Nemo Multispace MILESTONES
Citroen Nemo Multispace 1.4 HDi
Price: £10,995, (prices start from £9,995)
Engine/transmission; 1.4-litre HDi, 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 70bhp, 160Nm (118lb ft) from 1,750rpm, 5-speed manual gearbox (semi-auto option adds £800 to the price)
Performance: 94mph, 0-62mph 18.7 seconds, 62.8mpg (55mpg actual), CO2 119g/km, VED £35, BIK tax 13%. Insurance group; 2E
Dimensions; 3,959 long, 1,816mm wide, 1,721mm high, load capacity, 360-2,500 litres, braked towing weight 600kg
For: Compact length but with lots of interior space, flexible seating and load carrying combinations, well equipped for the price, low insurance cost, great visibility for passengers
Against: dismal diesel engine performance with no low down pulling power, uncomfortable and fidgety ride, some body-roll when cornering, no ESP as standard or as an option.