Models Covered

4/5dr Light panel van (1.5 diesel])


The first generation Citan was Mercedes’ idea of what a compact van should be. An LCV that was more than just practical and efficient to run but one with a depth of engineering and a sheen of quality that make the right statement about your business. Potentially then, the ideal recipe for a small business with big aspirations. Let’s check it out as a used buy.

The History

Prior to 2013, Mercedes had never offered us a really compact van – and that had historically been a problem for this German maker given that small LCVs account for nearly half of the total commercial vehicle market. In 2013, the marque put that right with this model, the Citan.

There’s a good reason of course why it took the Stuttgart brand so long to enter this segment. It knew buyers would expect ‘the Mercedes of small vans’ to be something very special, which would in turn necessitate an asking price beyond what most of them would be prepared to pay. Of course, the company could merely apply its famous badge to someone else’s LCV and cheapen the price that way – but then the result wouldn’t be a real Mercedes would it? What to do?

After a lot of head-scratching in Stuttgart, a compromise solution was reached. A partnership agreement with Renault was signed which allowed Mercedes to base its new small van on the French brand’s well respected Kangoo model. But, rather than badges simply being swapped, that Gallic model was then taken apart and re-designed the Mercedes way to ride, handle and feel like a vehicle fit to wear the Three-Pointed-Star. Hence this Citan’s unique suspension, steering, gearbox and cabin.

It’s got its own look too – and it was the only model in this segment in its period to come with the choice of no fewer than three different body lengths. From new, there was a small premium to pay for all this over the cost of a more ordinary compact LCV of course, but then savvy buyers in this segment realised that they’d get some of that back at resale time. The Citan sold in MK1 form until the end of 2022. Find the cash for a Citan and you just know you’ll get a professional job. But just how professional? Let’s see.

What You Get

This Citan was the smallest van ever to wear a three-pointed star but it was still a confident-looking thing and aesthetically, very much more than just a badge-engineered Renault Kangoo. Inside, the Stuttgart engineers completely redesigned the Renault Kangoo donor model’s interior, the convenient dash-mounted gearstick and peculiar L-shaped handbrake lever were the only remaining commonalities between the two models.

The three Citan body styles really are quite different. The Compact version really is compact, its restricted 3.94 metres of length insufficient to accommodate the sling side doors you get further up the range. If you can stretch to the ‘Long’ version (4.32m in length), it’s probably worth doing so, while the 4.7m-long ‘Extra-Long’ variant is only about 60mm shorter than an entry-level version of Mercedes’ Vito van from the next segment up.

Whichever body length you choose, it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of the Citan's load bay. All models come as standard with conventionally hinged side-opening twin rear doors that can be optionally glazed and can swing through 180-degrees. The door aperture here is 1,119mm high and 1,219mm wide, so most of the stuff you’ll be looking to get in will probably fit. Get beyond the rear doors and in the Compact model, you’ll find a 2.4m3 space that’s 1,258mm in height and 1,460mm in width, a figure that narrows to 1,219mm between the wheel arches – still enough for a Euro pallet. The door-to-bulkhead loadspace length is 1,369mm. These dimensions aren’t quite as great as you’ll find with some rivals, but there is the option to take longer or bigger items if you get yourself a model whose original owner specified it with the folding load protector grille and foldable front passenger seat. Which may negate the need to for some owners to stretch up to the bigger ‘Long’ body length.

What To Look For

The MK1 Citan is a tough thing that can shrug off most of what even the most careless city driver will throw at it.. Check for crash damage, uneven tyre wear, kerbed alloys, parking dents, ripped or discoloured upholstery and make sure the electrical features such as central locking and infotainment screens work as expected.

On The Road

This van may be based on quite a number of Renault underpinnings but with a Three-Pointed Star on the grille up-front, it needed to ride and drive like a Mercedes. Rather to our surprise, we found that it did. Drive is directed to the front wheels whichever model you choose and there’s a crisp, clean shift action to the manual gearbox. You’ll like the high-mounted stubby lever too, which falls perfectly to hand. It is a pity though, that you have to stretch up to the pokiest 110bhp 111 CDI model to get this stick with six-speeds. That top diesel variant uses the same Renault-derived four cylinder CDI diesel you’ll find further down the range – in 75bhp guise in the entry-level 108 CDI Citan and in 90bhp form in the volume 109 CDI model. If you’re looking at towing, obviously the two faster diesel units will be better choices, respectively developing 200 and 240Nm of torque, though right across the range, Mercedes quotes the same 1,050kg braked trailer weight. Not ideal for towing is the minority-interest Citan 112 petrol variant, fitted with a 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol unit and a six-speed manual gearbox.


The way it looks, the way it drives and the way it’ll feel to own and use this van are all unique. As will be the impression your business will make in running one. Like it or not, you're going to create more of an impression of quality arriving in a Mercedes-Benz. It’s all very premium – all very Mercedes. And all evidence of how, in most of the ways that really matter, this Citan can really deliver.