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Peugeot Expert Automatic

 

Peugeot is expert in the field of vans in Europe. Now it’s taking on the booming light-commercial market in New Zealand.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo diesel four, 120kW/340Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 7.2 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 5135mm long, 1980mm high, 3120mm wheelbase, load dimensions 2580x1450x1600mm, 16-inch steel wheels on 215/60 tyres.

We like: Performance, high level of specification, excellent access for loading.

We don’t like: Auto economy suffers compared with manual, not enough adjustment for passenger seat.

How it rates: 9/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? New Zealand Peugeot distributor Sime Darby has turned its eye towards the booming light commercial vehicle market. Specifically, vans: it already has the compact Partner, but sees most potential in this new-sized model, the Expert.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? It’s a bit of a rocket… relatively speaking. The Expert is powered by Peugeot’s familiar 2.0-litre HDi turbo diesel engine, with the same outputs as the brand’s passenger cars.

That’s plenty to get the Expert’s front wheels chirping away from the lights and provide rolling performance with real urgency. That’s when the van is unladen of course, but the beauty of having a generous performance baseline is that the van won’t feel sluggish when the back is packed with cargo.

Our test vehicle had a six-speed automatic transmission, which is again well-proven from Peugeot’s passenger-car range and a worthwhile option if you’re driving in an urban environment: with 340Nm of torque to draw upon, the gearbox just gets on with business.

Opt for the manual gearbox and you’ll save $2000, not to mention a bit more on the fuel bill: the three-pedal transmission drinks almost one litre of diesel less per 100km than the automatic in the Combined test cycle. The advantage will probably be greater in urban use.

Our test vehicle was fitted with an optional bulkhead behind the cabin which Peugeot claims does wonders for in-cabin refinement.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The cabin is very car-like, with styling cues straight from the Peugeot passenger-car range. Good range of adjustment for the driver’s seat (including height) and a handy three-across configuration. However, the two passenger seats have much less adjustment – they don’t recline or slide, for example.

Nor does the left-hand side of the cabin get a slide-out cupholder like the right. Instead, there’s just a blank on the dashboard. But otherwise there’s an impressive amount of storage, including aircraft-style overhead bins.

The cargo area has sliding doors on both sides and twin barn-style doors at the rear, which open at a full 180 degrees and still leave the vertical tail lights visible for approaching traffic. A wiper for each door, too: LCV luxury.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? Commercial operators have their own very specific requirements for these types of vehicles. But from a very general point of view the Expert is great to drive, robust and seems to provide for a multitude of load and fitout options.

There is one thorn in the side of the Expert, and that’s the Fiat Scudo: it’s the same van with a different badge and is currently on sale at just $29,990.

However, the Fiat has a lower-powered 88kW engine, it’s only available with manual transmission and it has a slightly lower level of specification (the three-across seating is optional, for example).

Perhaps we could think of the Expert as the sports/luxury version.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Manual
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/no
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: No
  • Keyless entry/start: No
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: No
  • Parking radar: Option on rear $700
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: No
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • Satellite navigation: No
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: No
  • Trip computer: Yes

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