Fleet News

New launch: Peugeot Expert

THE compact van sector is already the fastest growing part of the LCV market – but from February 2007 it will reach boiling point with the launch of the stylish new Peugeot Expert.

The new van, which will also make a showing as the Citroën Dispatch and Fiat Scudo, will roll off the Sevel Nord factory line in Valenciennes in northern France.

The old model was launched in 1995 and has been gradually losing its cutting edge to new contenders like the Vauxhall Vivaro and Mercedes-Benz Vito.There was also a gap in the range between this van and the bigger Peugeot Boxer.

Both of these problems have been addressed with this new offering. Not only is the driving experience improved, but now long wheelbase and high roof versions will be on sale for the first time, along with a Combi offering up to nine seats.

Payoads range from 800kg to 1,200kg while load volumes go from 5.0 cubic metres to 7.0 cubic metres, while lengths are either 4.8 metres or 5.13 metres.

Under the bonnet, there is a choice of new diesel engines – a 90bhp 1.6-litre unit mated to a five-speed gearbox or a 120bhp or 136bhp 2.0-litre unit using a six-speed box.

The cab has been completely reworked, with a stylish dashboard designed by Pininfarina and new seats. Service intervals have been increased to two years/20,000 miles.

Prices will be announced nearer the launch date.

Behind the wheel

PEUGEOT has replaced what was an excellent van with a truly brilliant one. Outside, the dashing new lines put it ahead of anything in the sector in my book, while the cab feels chunkier and more business-like.

We don’t know the exact UK spec of these vans yet, but expect a driver’s airbag and ABS brakes as standard, while ESP traction control is likely to feature as a paid-for option (the rival Mercedes-Benz Vito and Volkswagen Transporter have this as standard).

We drove a short wheelbase 120bhp version last week on the roads around Paris and were immediately impressed with the powerful yet calm way this van behaves. The extra bhp puts it a world ahead of its predecessor, while handling is pin sharp, gearchanges are slick and power steering is nicely weighted.

Verdict

THE Expert will not only attract a host of new van fleet buyers, but car drivers with families are likely to be attracted to the Combi versions.

It’s a van to be sure but based on the Peugeot 807 MPV platform, it drives and handles just like a car – and it looks fantastic in the metal.

All in all, a triumph.

Fact file

Power (bhp): 90-136
Torque (lb-ft): 133-236
Payloads (kg): 800-1,200
Load volumes (cu m): 5.0-7.0
Prices (ex-VAT): tba

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