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Replacing the Partner Tepee name with Rifter, must have been a no brainer for Peugeot. The Rifter is Peugeot’s new lifestyle-MPV, a crossover that benefits from the interiors found in Peugeots 3008 & 5008 SUV’s. Peugeot have designed a hugely practical vehicle with the Rifter, it’s perfect for anyone who does outdoors stuff, such as climbing, cycling, surfing or camping. It’s offered with loads of interior space, a choice of five or seven seats & a raft of clever interior touches. Whether it is attractive enough to tempt buyers from their B-sector SUV’s remains to be seen.
The Rifter sports Tonka-Toy looks. There’s a short front overhang, with the Peugeot front grille & Lion logo. The flanks offer a 60:40 split of steel to glass & both sides feature sliding rear doors. The rear hatch opens wide & range topping GT Line adds a rear window that opens a useful addition to gain entry in confined spaces. Roof rails & wheel arch cladding also add to the utilitarian looks.
The interior is lifted by the adoption of Peugeots ’i-Cockpit’ which has the desired effect of making the Rifter feel more car-like. Peugeot have squeezed up to 180 litres of useful storage space into the cabin as well. Vast door pockets large enough for two six-packs of beer plus a dashboard top-loading box make the Rifter very practical. If that’s not enough, they’ve even added a roof container that drops down from the roof above the boot & there’s almost no part of the Rifter’s interior that hasn’t been utilised for space.
If you need seven seats, the Rifter obliges. There are two lengths available, standard & long-wheelbase, both coming with five or optional seven seats, with the third row removable. The regular edition offers 775 litres of boot space with five seats up, which increases to a magnificent 3,000 litres when you fold the rear three seats down. The long-wheelbase is 35cm longer, offers 1,050 litres in five-seat form, rising to a gargantuan 4,000 litres if you drive with just two seats up.
Engine wise, Rifter is available with a 1.2 PureTech engine in two versions; PureTech 130ch S&S with an 8-speed automatic gearbox / EAT8 (available in 2019) & PureTech 110ch S&S with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The diesel option, comes in the form of a 1.5 BlueHDi engine; A BlueHDi 130ch S&S with a 6-speed manual gearbox or 8-speed automatic gearbox / EAT8, a BlueHDi 100ch with a 5-speed manual gearbox, also available in S&S & a BlueHDi 75ch with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The Diesel engines are all equipped with a particle filter and selective catalytic reduction system. This technology enables emission control upon starting the engine and without requiring a particle filter additive.
Following the Peugeot trend, Rifter is offered in three trim levels: Active, Allure & GT Line, which is the version that we got to drive in both manual petrol & auto diesel variants. Equipment level on the GT Line are impressive. A large, 8” colour touchscreen ensures connectivity. Positioned within arm’s reach, it includes two USB ports, a jack socket, Bluetooth connection & a wireless charger. The system is complemented by a Mirror Screen compatible with Mirror Link, Apple Carplay and Android Auto. There’s also a leather steering wheel, dashboard components enhanced with “Quente Brown” paint, “Tissu Casual” upholstery & the chequered background of the dials.
The GT Line version features specific Onyx Black characteristics such as the outline of the radiator grille, the rearview mirror casings, the roof bars & even inserts in the side strips. Peugeots aim is plainly to lift what looks to all intents & purposes, like a plain old MPV, into something brighter & more desirable & from the front anyway, they have succeeded. 17-inch “Aoraki” diamond-cut alloy wheels & GT Line name plates with a copper finish on the front wings & tailgate further enhance this smoke & mirrors game.
Leaving the hotel in Monaco we headed via the congested local road west towards Cagnes-Sur-Mer & then upward & onwards past Vence towards Grasse, on roads I know well & a good test for the Rifter. The auto box fitted to our diesel GT Line, took the hassle out of driving in congested traffic, although we also drove the petrol manual & that too is smooth & quiet, even when negotiating some tight, winding, inclines. The cavernous interior does let some wind & road noise in, but it’s really not too bad. The ride itself is pretty good. We had no issues over a number of different routes, with the Rifter really shining on the motorway as a surprisingly good performer. I’m not a huge fan of a dial auto gear change which the auto diesel Rifter featured & actually preferred driving with the manual gear box in petrol guise.
Equipment levels are impressive. A large, 8” colour touchscreen ensures connectivity. Positioned within arm’s reach, it includes two USB ports, a jack socket, Bluetooth connection & a wireless charger. The system is complemented with Mirror Link, Apple Carplay & Android Auto connectivity.
Peugeot’s i-Cockpit system works really well in the Rifter, as the driver & front seat passenger benefit from the vehicles upright driving position. There are also physical switches to control the heating & ventilation, a good decision by Peugeot, as the touchscreen versions can be fiddly & distracting.
Build quality is far superior to the outgoing Partner Tepee & it certainly feels durable. There are some cheap & cheerful shiny plastics, as to be expected, after all the range starts from under 20K. My co-driver, a surfer was waxing – no pun intended – lyrical about the interiors usefulness & that it would be a perfect combo for 3-4 surfers, their boards & luggage. I saw it as the perfect holiday rental, offering loads of space for a family of five & at a push six.
As someone who prefers the confines of the city to the wilds of Britain, I’m far happier in a coffee shop than atop a mountain, the Rifter still came across as a vehicle with infinite possibilities. Anyone who needs a compact people carrier should take a look at this new Peugeot, as it’s been cleverly thought out & designed. Despite Peugeot’s designers working hard on the exterior, there’s no escaping that the Rifter looks like an MPV that’s based on a van & therefore, it won’t appeal to your vanity. However, if I am offered the option to rent a Rifter at any car hire at any airport around the world, I would take one in a flash !
A future rental King 3.75/5