Under the skin, the next-gen PSA Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch medium vans are identical, and you would struggle to tell the difference between the pair once seated in the cab too. But from the outside they are easy to distinguish: while Citroen has gone for a fluid, softer face with a short bonnet and high headlamps, the Expert is more assertive with a prominent and aggressive grille.

PSA has broken new ground in the sector with the addition of a Compact derivative to the line-ups. This version is 4.6m long and has a 5.1m3 loadspace, but boasts a meaty and class-leading maximum payload of more than 1.4t in common with the other bodystyles. It has a turning circle of 11.3m, compared to the 12.4m of the Standard and Long vans, which should make life easier for the urban operators at whom it is specifically targeted.

The PSA vans will be available with a selection of Euro6 1.6 and 2.0 Blue HDI powertrains with outputs ranging from 95hp to 180hp, all incorporate selective catalytic reduction technology to meet the Euro6 standard and come with a 22.4-litre Adblue tank. The 115hp 1.6 engine is the most efficient with official consumption of 55.3mpg and CO2 of just 133g/km. These figures make the PSA models comfortably the most frugal and environmentally friendly in the sector.

Entry-level vans are reasonably well-equipped too with the likes of DAB radio, while loading is facilitated by a sector first of electric sliding side doors. The most significant addition for the mid-range trims is the Moduwork configurable passenger bench seat with load-through bulkhead, making it possible to carry longer pipes or ladders. It also allows the seat to fold upwards to increase load volume. The top trim level introduces front fog lights as well as cosmetic upgrades such as 17-inch alloys.

Prices for both ranges start from £17,495 for the 95hp manual panel vans in base trims and rise to £26,545 for the 180hp flagship panel vans with the EAT6 auto box and stop/start.

We tested the Peugeot Expert Standard 150hp 2.0 -litre in the top Professional Plus trim level, which costs £23,445, as does the equivalent Citroen model in Enterprise Plus specification.

Its ride remained comfortable, with most of the expected bump and bounce impressively well suppressed. 

The six manual gears are well spaced and not prone to any notchiness, and the steering is responsive and the pick-up remained reassuringly steady even on winding rural roads. The PSA vans may not handle quite as well as the best in class, such as the Transit Custom, but they are no longer so far behind.

The interior of our Professional Plus model was sober and functional, everything on the somewhat imposing dashboard is positioned within easy reach of the driver, and the cab provides plenty of storage space.

Several optional packs are available. One, the £700 ViseoPark 1, or Top Rear Vision in Citroen-speak, comes with features such as a reversing camera with a 180° overhead rear view, while the Safety Pack includes Driver Attention Alert, which warns the driver to pay attention via visual and audible prompts.
Finally, an innovation on all Dispatch and Expert models is the hands-free sliding side door feature. This enables the driver to open and close the side door with a movement of the foot under the corner of the rear bumper.

Peugeot Expert Pro. Plus 150hp S&S 6spd manual

Price (ex VAT) £23,445
Price range (ex VAT) £17,495-£26,545
Insurance group tbc
Warranty 3yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals 25,000mls
Load length 3674mm
Load width 1260mm/1628mm
Load bay height 1397mm
Gross payload 1400kg
Load volume 5.8m3
Engine size/power 1997cc/150hp
Combined fuel economy 53.2mpg
CO2 139g/km