Publication date: 19 May 2024
Citroen e-Relay
Review

Citroen e-Relay

Move ahead

Review - All commercial vehicles of Stellantis, the parent company of Citroën, Opel, Peugeot and Fiat, have been updated for model year 2024. The all-electric models benefit the most, as they get a new powertrain in addition to more modern equipment. Does this make the Citroën Relay move ahead?

Take a seat behind the steering wheel and it quickly becomes clear what makes the Citroën Relay special. The first hint is in the climb required to get into the driver's seat. This is even higher than in other large vans. The seat is so high that the driver and co-drivers' derriere is at the same height as the roof of the average private car!

Citroen e-Relay

The Relay is not fitted with Citroën's famous "Advance Comfort" seats, which is strange for a vehcile in which so much time will be spent. However, the seats do feature large headrests that are adjustable enough to actually contribute to safety. The interior is generously equipped with bins, compartments, cup holders and whatnot. However, because of the sloping dashboard, nothing can be put on top of this. For the charging cables, a compartment has been made under the right seat, to prevent them from wandering through the cargo space. Because of the seating position and choice of materials, the Relay feels more like a small truck, rather than a large van.

Citroen e-Relay
Citroen e-Relay

The second hint comes from the dashboard: it is tilted and points downwards. That way, it requires less space than a horizontal dashboard, which is why the seats can be even more forward than in other vans. Not only the height, but also the fact that the occupants sit extremely far forward is unlike anything else. To be able to look at the instruments (in fact a monitor) behind the steering wheel, the driver has to look down and that too takes getting used to. The central display is even further out of the field of vision, as it not only sits low, but also far to the right. Moreover, it is not facing the driver.

Equipment

On the central display screen runs a new audio, communication and navigation system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android auto. Compared to infotainment systems in passenger cars, it all looks a bit simple, but the functionality is decent. From now on, the sat nav can automatically plan charging stops if the range is insufficient to reach the destination. The audio system, as in Citroëns regular cars, is controlled by buttons behind the steering wheel.

The mirror has been replaced by a display screen. Thanks in part to an improved camera, this latest generation gives such a sharp and clear image that the difference with a glass mirror is small. However, the digital interior mirror does not have the new "splitview" function that can be found in the smaller Dispatch and Berlingo. Of course, the larger Relay has large exterior mirrors, including blind spot mirrors. The van driven here, measuring exactly 6 metres long and over 2 metres high (also known as L3H2), is therefore also easy to overlook.

As required by the European Union, the Relay for model year 2024 is equipped with many safety features that assist the driver. These have been perceived as significantly less annoying than in the Dispatch, for example, even though the software would theoretically be identical. Thanks to the new assistance systems, the Relay can now drive autonomously at level 2 (limited assistance with steering, braking and acceleration). The Relay is now available with LED headlights.

Citroen e-Relay

Load space

The special design of the cabin is intended to achieve maximum cargo space. Depending on the selected wheelbase, the Relay therefore offers up to 42 cm longer cargo space! Multiply that by the height and the difference with an even-length van can add up to many extra crates or boxes per trip.

As standard, the Relay comes with hinged rear doors and a sliding side door. A second sliding door is optional. However, many users will want to arrange the cargo space as they see fit, in which case a second sliding door is undesirable. Regardless of the chosen powertrain (diesel or electric), the cargo space capacity is the same. The electric e-Relay has a maximum load weight of 700 kg. For this test, it was driven with 400 kg of cargo on board.

Citroen e-Relay

Electric van

The above-average cargo space is also due to the platform. Citroën explicitly opts for front-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive and/or all-wheel drive are not available. Therefore, there is no electric motor under the cargo space and so the floor could be lower. Moreover, the Relay has a different electric powertrain than the Disptach and Berlingo. Thus, the entire length of this large van can be used for batteries (110 kWh).

On a simple route and in moderate weather conditions, test consumption came to 29.8 kWh per 100 km. This is civilised for a van of this size. The range with this consumption was 400 km, which is much more than usual. With the e-Relay, Citroen is therefore targeting users who travel long distances and/or cannot recharge in between trips. Those who travel less long distances pay for unused capacity and extra ballast.

Citroen e-Relay

Using levers behind the steering wheel, the driver can control how much energy is recovered when releasing the throttle. In addition, a normal, a sporty and an economic mode are available. Both are things that are common for electric private cars, but not yet common for commercial vehicles.

In normal mode, performance is excellent for a van of this size. In absolute terms, the e-Relay does not perform significantly better than the diesel variant. However, the ease with which performance is put down, along with the lack of engine noise is perceived as a move ahead.

Citroen e-Relay

Conclusion

Stellantis is the parent company of Citroën, Peugeot, Opel and Fiat. Over a third of all revenue comes from commercial vehicles, which is why all Stellantis commercial vehicles have been renewed for model year 2024. So that includes the Citroën Relay (and the technically identical Fiat Ducato, Vauxhall Movano and Peugeot Boxer).

New requirements from the European Union are the reason for this rejuvenation cure. All cars are mandatorily fitted with new safety features. And since the manufacturer was busy anyway, the infotainment system has also been updated. This brings the Relay, Ducato, Movano and Boxer back up to date, but that also applies to the competition as this is a mandatory update.

The test drive therefore mainly shows that the concept of the Relay (and stablemates) is and remains clever. By tilting the dashboard, the seats can be moved further forward and more cargo space can be extracted from the existing length. The electric e-Relay is far superior to the diesel in terms of quietness and performance, without sacrificing cargo space.

plus
  • Large range e-Relay
  • Compact cabin for maximum load space
minus
  • Small glove box
  • No Advance Comfort seats available