Expert is Peugeot’s all new, mid-sized delivery van, to be joined later in the year by the smaller Partner and larger Boxer models.
It’s a good looking thing and shapes up well on paper, with strong basics, a five star safety rating and amazing variety of active safety systems for a vehicle of this type.
But there’s more to testing a van than taking it for a quick spin down the road to grab a latte and poking your head in the back for a token look.
You only really get to really know a work vehicle on the job and Peugeot was kind enough to let us do just that, putting the Expert to work for a week in a high volume courier business.
What’s it cost?
Prices start at $36,490 for the short wheelbase, with an 85kW/300Nm 1.6-litre turbo diesel and 6-speed manual.
Moving up the three model range gets you the same vehicle a more powerful 110kW/370Nm 2.0-litre diesel, priced from $39,990 for the manual or $42,490 for the auto.
A long wheelbase version is also available with the same engine/transmission configuration priced from from $44,190, or with a more powerful 130kW/400Nm diesel priced from $45,890.
Our test vehicle was the short wheelbase with the 2.0-litre engine and 6-speed auto, priced from $44,990 driveaway — that’s in Sydney at least (prices could vary from state to state).
Apparently, there are no options available for the Expert and this is some cause for concern, because it really needs a liner for the load area and at least a passenger side window for better visibility.
Standard equipment includes a combination of cloth and faux leather trim, airconditioning, fixed bulkead, twin rear sliders, barn-style rear doors, one-touch power windows, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, 16-inch steel wheels, 3 x 12V power sockets and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — but alas no satellite navigation. You’d think it would be a given for a deliver van?
There’s three seats across the front, with a “mobile office” centre fold down section and insulated hidden storage area underneath, plus you can push long items all the way through and under the passenger seat.
Safety equipment includes:
Front and side Airbags
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
Blind spot monitoring system
A reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors
Adaptive Cruise control with speed limiter and forward collision warning
What’s it go like?
It’s surprisingly zippy to drive.
The 2.0-lite diesel is smooth and powerful, with 110kW of power and 370Nm of torque, the latter from 2000 revs.
Drive is to the front wheels, with a smooth 6-speed auto that is opeated by a novel and we guess space-saving rotary dial — and it’s even equipped with steering wheel mounted gear change paddles.
The dial in drive takes a bit of practice and calls for calm under pressure when it comes to a quick back and fill, but you never really get the satisfaction that comes from slamming it into drive for a quick takeoff.
For all you rear-wheel drive devotees, front-wheel drive is actually preferable in the parcel delivery business because it offers better traction — as the load dwindles so does grip when drive is to the rear wheels.
The turning circle is competitive and the brakes are good, but ultra grabby and as well as being annoying disturbs items in the back — so does the bouncy suspension as it porpoises over speed humps.
Normally, we drive one of LDV’s G10s, so comparisons are inevitable.
Although the Expert provides reach and height adjustment for the wheel, the seating is a little cramped and the seat itself too short to be called comfortable.
It’s also a fraction too high from the ground to facilitate swiveling and sliding straight out in a single fluid action, without ripping the back of your leg on the seat bolster.
It’s also easy to catch your left foot on the door’s lower storage bin as your legs swings out.
Doing this a couple of hundred times a day takes its toll.
And it needs a grab handle on the windscreen pillar to make entry easier.
The Expert is 4959mm long, with a 3725mm wheelbase, and load length of 2512mm with 1285mm between the wheel arches.
Peugeot claims a capcity of 5.3 cubmic metres and the ability to haul 1300kg, with facility to push longer items through the bulkhead and under the passenger side seat.
That’s more than the longer LDV’s 5.2 cubic metres, but in reality the load area is shorter and narrower and doesn’t hold as much — the extra must be in the height.
Expert doesn’t come with a load area liner either, which is hard on the knees and hard on the cargo in the back letting it slide and tumble all over the place.
For safety’s sake we’d also prefer a window in the passenger side rear slider.
The thing is, neither is available — not even as an option.
But we like the blind spot alert, front and rear park sensors and a rear view camera that delivers clear vision — unlike the terrible camera in the LDV.
The reversing guidelines however can be taken with a great of salt — they indicated we’d clear an object ina tight reverse but a physical check proved otherwise.
The exterior mirrors could do with a wider field of vision too.
AM radio reception is lousy, centre headrest obscures rear vision and the fold down, centre work table is a token effort with its elastic loop to hold paperwork.