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CitroŽn Nemo Multispace 1.4 HDi

Click to view picture galleryIf the fashion for owning versatile
  MPV people carriers ever goes away,
  CitroŽn will be in trouble — their
  current range is dominated by them
  and now another one, the small Nemo
  Multispace, has just been added to
  the line-up...

THE NEW NEMO MULTISPACE offers a combination of compact external dimensions, massive internal space and exceptional visibility. It also provides the benefits of ease of access, exceptional headroom and the option of CitroŽn'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 1.4HDi, 70bhp turbodiesel version (also available with the SensoDrive automated manual transmission at £11,795). And because CitroŽn are major players with their version of the £2,000 scrappage scheme, a new Nemo can be had for an appealing £7,995.

Offered in just 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 but it doesn't lack creature comforts such as remote central locking, electric windows, power steering, split rear seats, four airbags, a trip computer and even 'guide me home' lights — they're all fitted as standard.

The Nemo's protruding lower nose fronts a compact box-shaped passenger compartment and gives the vehicle a distinctive appearance which neatly marries fun and functionality. The overall length is 3,959mm with a width of 1,816mm and a height of 1,721mm, so it slots neatly into the 'supermini' car sector. The wide and deep windscreen, low level side glass areas and the huge tailgate rear window plus large door mirrors together make for impressive visibility from the inside and give the Nemo its signature CitroŽn MPV character. With its chunky two-tone front and rear bumpers, sculpted wheel arches and black side rubbing strips, the Nemo has an 'active' appearance. The clear-lens headlamps and large chevrons communicate robustness and purpose.

Twin sliding doors at the rear provide an easy, wide access point for passengers, even in restricted locations. The large tailgate, with the CitroŽn chevrons prominently positioned in the centre, provides convenient, low-threshold loading and easy access to the Nemo's contents.

A car designed for being at home in the urban environment, the Nemo Multispace's compact size and tight — sub-ten-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 manages to pack a surprising amount of internal room in, with nearly 1,700mm of cabin length giving generous elbow- and head-room in both the front and rear. The smart design of the seats ensures both comfort and support, whilst the rear seats, mounted 40mm higher than the front ones, give passengers a clear view ahead.

The Nemo scores
for functionality
at a
reasonable price
For those in need of more space than the Nemo already impressive 360-litre boot volume, the load area can be increased to either 740 litres (with rear seats folded) or a massive 2,500 litres with the rear seats completely removed. And for added convenience, the removable luggage shelf can be stored behind the back of the rear bench.

In addition to its flexible functionality, the Nemo provides numerous convenient stowage compartments throughout the cabin — there are twelve at the front to meet a range of requirements. Underlining the car's practical personality, a rugged PVC floor covering is fitted throughout the cabin.

With a high-mounted gear lever sited 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.

Visibility, as I've said, is excellent and drivers can easily find a comfortable driving position thanks to a height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel and a 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. However, air-conditioning is a £500 option. And if you want rear parking sensors they're an extra £200. A Bluetooth telephone connectivity kit costs another £180.

But the Nemo Multispace does come with a four-speaker, high-quality audio system comprising an RDS stereo radio with MP3-compatible CD. A handy 12-volt socket in the front also allows users to power electronic devices. Convenience items such as a trip computer and 'guide me home' headlights are also standard.

A typically CitroŽn touch is the removable torch mounted in the boot which also doubles as the boot light. When removed from its mounting, it provides a useful portable light source and it's automatically recharged once placed back in its cradle.

The 1.4-litre 75bhp petrol engine 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 that good but certainly better than the diesel version's 18.7 seconds.

The £1,000 dearer 1.4-litre HDi turbocharged diesel unit puts out 70bhp and scores for substantially better fuel economy of 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, giving a range of around 550+ miles on its 9.9-gallon tank. 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. Thanks to the diesel engine's lower CO2 emissions of 119g/km, the HDi model comes with CitroŽn's Airdream label (a special eco-signature only bestowed on the company's most environmentally-conscious vehicles) so you only pay £35 for a year's road fund licence.

But having good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions does limit the performance. Top speed, which isn't really important given the 70mph legal limit, is 94mph but the 0-62mph time is 18.7 seconds — and it feels even slower. The problem is that to gain these good mpg figures and low CO2 emissions, the Nemo's gearing has been made so tall that the performance suffers. Consequently, the usual advantage of a turbodiesel — 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, all 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 even offered as an option even though soon it will have to be by European law and it has become a requirement to gain a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Better news on the safety front for the secure fitment of child seats is that 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.

Unfortunately, the Nemo Multispace offers little in the way of driving pleasure and its commercial vehicle ancestry does show up in the performance, ride comfort, roadholding and stability. Not so good is the dismal diesel engine performance with no low-down pulling power, the uncomfortable and fidgety ride with some body-roll when cornering and the fact that not only is there no ESP as standard but it's not even an option.

On the plus side are compact external dimensions, lots of interior space, flexible seating and load carrying combinations, great visibility for passengers and it's well equipped for the price. In short, the Nemo scores for functionality at a reasonable price. — David Miles

CitroŽn Nemo Multispace 1.4 HDi | £10,995
Maximum speed: 94mph | 0-62mph: 18.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 55mpg
Power: 70bhp | Torque: 118lb ft | CO2 119g/km | Insurance group 2E