The French Elvis
Launched at the 2016 CV Show in Birmingham, alongside Citroens Dispatch & Toyotas Proace, the latest Peugeot Expert is unique in the mid-size van sector, as it’s rare these days a completely brand new product from the ground up. Derived from the PSA Groups Efficient Modular Platform, first seen on the Peugeot 308 & Citroen C4 Picasso, the Expert is a real competitor to the Ford Transit Custom & like the Custom, could very well be one of the most car-like vans I have ever driven, whilst still managing to maintain all of the practicality that a mid-range van has to offer. The EMPT2 platform is only half the story though, because the Expert is a completely newly engineered van from the forward bulkhead back & having spent some time driving it, I can safely say that the it really is very good indeed.
As I felt that the most popular model would be the Standard version, Peugeot loaned me this model, which I drove for a week unladen, including in & around the Peak District to a Peugeot car launch. Even though the Standard version will be the most popular in the range, the Compact model is still worth considering because it does handle two pallets. At just 3.320m long & with a turning circle of just 11m, Peugeot have produced what should be the perfect van for urban use, where customers value size & agility alongside load space. As a comparison, the Standard model has a 3,670m load length, the Long version 4,020m. On all three, cargo width between the wheel arches is 1,260m with the respective models coming with load volumes of 5.1, 5.8 & 6.6 cubic metres. The Compact & Standard models are 1.9m tall whilst the Long is 1.94m high, meaning that they should also fit under barriers & into most multi-storey car parks.
Also available on all models, is the Moduwork long-load system. I had a good look around my test van before I took it out & it featured the Moduwork bulkhead with a hatch, allowing an additional 1160mm of load length to fit into the cargo area & into the front rear left passenger footwell. There was also a triple-seat folding front bench with under seat storage on both passenger seats. The middle seat can also be folded to create a table for your laptop.
The cabin itself is well designed & it’s easy to reach all of the switches & buttons whilst driving, an important consideration for most van users, as is the view from the front which is also excellent. I spent a week in the drivers seat & found it supportive as well as comfortable & the Expert’s suspension allows for a smooth ride as well. The insulated bulkhead on my test van helped to keep the cabin quiet, even without a load in the rear & I was even able to receive a couple of hands-free calls whilst on the move & not have to shout to be heard. Up & down the Cat & Fiddle in Cheshire & in & around Buxton, my 95bhp version felt a little underpowered as I struggled to get up to & past some slow moving lorries. On urban roads & on the motorway things get better, with the Expert a comfortable ride around town & in cruise control mode a competent, quiet motorway cruiser.
Equipment even on the entry level Expert models is impressive. A pair of sliding side doors, electric windows, DAB radio & Bluetooth plus cruise control are also offered. Expert S is the entry level model in the range, but the model I tested was the mid-range Expert Professional which adds the PSA group’s latest 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, air con & the Moduwork bulkhead & seat, with the touchscreen working well for DAB, Bluetooth but not SatNav which wasn’t fitted to my test van because it’s an extra. Spend a bit more & the top of the range Professional Plus adds LED driving lights, 17″ alloys, a rear parking camera & metallic paint. Safety kit includes speed limit recognition, a heads-up display & pre-collision braking.
As with many competitors vans nowadays, the interior has a car-like fascia design with a good quality feel to it & it’s also finished in nicely textured plastics, a mile away from vans of old. Apart from the under seat storage, there’s a total of 49-litres of storage space around the cabin, including ubiquitous large door bins, two glove boxes on the passenger side & an A4 sized compartment on top of the dash.
I drove 280 miles in my week in the Expert & including my up & down dale in Derbyshire, managed to average a very respectable 41.2 mpg & such good economy is likely to be one of it’s biggest selling points. Importantly, Peugeot’s Blue HDi engines meet the new Euro 6 emissions standards. According to the official numbers, the 95bhp 1.6-litre I drove returns 55.4mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of just 133g/km. If you look at the other engines in the range, the 114bhp manual version returns 51.4mpg with 114g/km of CO2 in 5-speed manual form. The 120bhp comes with a combined figure of 51.4mpg & 144g/km of CO2 & the 150bhp van’s even better with 53.3 mpg& 139g/km of CO2. Even the 180bhp unit offers 48.7mpg & 151g/km of CO2. All are impressive.
One extra that is available on the Expert which really appealed to me was the twin sliding doors can be opened by a hands-free option that allows anyone with their arms full & the key in their pocket to operate the door by waggling a foot under the van. Oh how I wish this had been invented when I was a student !
As I said at the start of my review, it only took me a few minutes piloting the Expert for me to really, really like it. Not only does it appeal to my car-like tendencies, it’s also spot on for load space, practicality, fuel-economy & even looks good as well. With Peugeots network of business dealerships set up to cater for the SME fleet manager & small business users, the new Expert should do really well. It’s also going to run the Ford Transit Custom close in it’s sector. Any negatives ? Just one. The fact that you’ll have to pay extra on all models for SatNav, seems like an oversight on Peugeot’s part.
A Johnny Hallyday 4/5
Prices start at £22,923 & rise to £33,783 OTR.
Body style Height Width Length
Compact van 1,900mm 1,920mm 4,609mm
Standard van 1,900mm 1,920mm 4,959mmLong van 1,940mm 1,920mm 5,309mm
Load area dimensions
Body style Height Width Length Volume
Compact van 1,397mm 1,628mm 2,162mm 4.6cu m
Standard van 1,397mm 1,628mm 2,512mm 5.3cu m
Long van 1,397mm 1,628mm 2,862mm 6.1cu m
(Load volume is without Moduwork option – add 0.5cu m if Moduwork is fitted)