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.