19 December 2006
Author: Steve Banner
|Category:|| Panel van|
|Prices:|| £12,600-£14,250 (est)|
|Key rival:|| Ford Transit Connect&l|
Now that high roof and long wheelbase versions are available alongside the short-wheelbase standard roof model, Peugeot's latest Expert covers a wider area of the market than its predecessor.
As well as offering more cargo space - up from 4cu/m to between 5 and 7cu/m depending on the variant - it will also carry more weight. Payload capacity rises to either 1000kg or 1200kg compared with 815kg or 900kg.
There's a new engine line-up too. Customers can choose from two different common-rail HDi diesel engines: a 90PS 1.6-litre also deployed in the Partner, or a 2.0-litre HDi diesel with either 120PS or 136PS on tap that was developed in co-operation with Ford (the 136PS variant is equipped with a particulate trap). The 2.0-litre comes with a strengthened version of Peugeot's ML6C six-speed gearbox, while the 1.6 gets a five-speeder.
The short wheelbase standard roof 1.6-litre diesel van rides well, offers a crisp gearchange, and comes with responsive steering, although it feels a bit underpowered. Work the engine hard and it becomes noisy, too, noticeably so given that wind noise and road roar are well controlled.
The base diesel engine might be OK if you spend all your time inching along in city centre traffic, but the 120PS 2.0-litre probably makes more sense if you regularly tackle motorway and dual carriageway runs as well as urban work. That is especially the case if you run heavily laden.
The Expert has been restyled externally and internally, and features a cab interior designed by Pininfarina. Useful optional extras include a rear air suspension system that allows the back of the vehicle to be lowered to ease loading and unloading, and an overhead storage system that extends into the cab above windscreen level.
The Expert is available as a Citroen Dispatch and as a Fiat Scudo thanks to a long-standing joint venture between PSA Group - parent to Citroen and Peugeot - and the Italian manufacturer, but its key rival in the UK market is Ford's long-wheelbase market-leading Transit Connect. While it has a long way to go to match the Connect's sales, it's a package that's unlikely to disappoint, especially given those potentially frugal diesel engines.
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