It’s not every day you get to see a van being driven hard like a WRC car.
A sister model of the latest Toyota Proace and Peugeot Expert, the new Dispatch certainly wasn’t engineered to fulfill the role of a rally car. However, Citroën wanted to prove the midsize van’s surprising agility on a muddy terrain by putting WRC driver Kris Meeke behind the wheel of the Dispatch to tackle a purpose-built rally handling stage with assistance from co-pilot Paul Nagle.
It’s obviously nothing more than a marketing ploy to boost the Dispatch’s presence in the challenging LCV segment, but even so it gives us the rare chance to see how a van would do during a WRC-like rally stage in the hands of a professional. As you would imagine, Meeke had nothing but kind words to say about the new Dispatch:
“I’m impressed, that was really good – I enjoyed it. With slippery conditions on the stage, New Dispatch coped really well. It gave me the stability I needed in the corners, with great handling, which made it easy and fun to drive.”
While next year’s WRC-spec cars will have somewhere in the region of 380 horsepower from a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, the Dispatch has a turbodiesel 2.0-liter available in 119 hp, 148 hp, and 178 hp flavors.
Although we’re not actually seeing it, Citroën says the styling of its new van takes inspiration from passenger cars and SUVs creating what is being described as a “fluid and practical” design. It can be had in one of the three lengths available: XS (4.6 meters), M (4.94 meters), and XL (5.3 meters), with as much as 6.6 cubic meters of load volume.
At an additional cost, the Dispatch is available with an optional handsfree function by waving your foot underneath the corner of the rear bumper to automatically unlock the van and open the sliding side doors. To make the LCV easier to live with on a daily basis, Citroën is selling the new model with a seven-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system featuring voice control as well as a rearview camera, which should come in hand especially on the longer versions of the Dispatch.
Priced from £22,508 OTR in U.K., the van is currently available only in XS and M lengths, with the larger XL due to arrive early next year.
Gallery: 2017 Citroen Dispatch
NEW CITROËN DISPATCH: WRC TRIED AND TESTED
Launched at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham earlier this year, New Citroën Dispatch is the latest addition to Citroën’s award-winning LCV range. To demonstrate the vehicle’s capabilities, Citroën UK asked FIA World Rally Championship pairing Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle to put the vehicle through its paces in the only way they know how, on a rally stage.
With 600,000 units sold since launch in 1995, Citroën Dispatch has stepped into a new era and made a generational leap with the New Citroën Dispatch.
Harnessing over 80 years of experience in light commercial vehicles, Citroën provides solutions adapted to all motoring users. An essential partner for professionals and ‘everyday heroes’, New Citroën Dispatch was designed with efficiency and user-friendliness in mind.
Putting New Citroën Dispatch to the ultimate test, to highlight its robustness, versatility, and advanced technologies, Citroën recruited the help of its FIA World Rally Championship crew.
WRC stars Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle gave New Citroën Dispatch a thorough shakedown, on a specially prepared rally handling stage.
Meeke commented, “I’m impressed, that was really good – I enjoyed it. With slippery conditions on the stage, New Dispatch coped really well. It gave me the stability I needed in the corners, with great handling, which made it easy and fun to drive.”
The design of New Citroën Dispatch was inspired by the world of passenger cars and SUVs. Its styling is fluid and practical, with the all-new modular platform meaning that New Citroën Dispatch is available in three lengths. The XS is just 4.6m long – a compact first in this segment – M is 4.94m, and XL* is 5.3m. New Citroën Dispatch also offers up to 6.6 m3 of load volume, providing a flexible load space.
With an optional hands-free function, the sliding side doors open and close without you having to touch them, an exclusive feature in this segment. Simply pass your foot under the corner of the rear bumper and the vehicle unlocks, with the door on the side where you are standing opening automatically. This simplifies loading and unloading for when you have your hands full.
New Citroën Dispatch offers safe, easy and stress-free driving. Besides useful everyday functions like hands-free entry and start, New Citroën Dispatch also features technology such as Mirror Screen smartphone connectivity that makes travelling easier.
A truly exclusive feature is the 7-inch colour touchscreen which displays a 180° overhead view from the reversing camera, meanwhile Citroën Connect Nav – the new 3D connected navigation system – can be operated by voice control.
New Citroën Dispatch is available from £22,508 OTR.
* The XL length will be available from early 2017.