Good load-car­ry­ing abil­ity in com­pact pack­age


SMALL VANS THAT DRIVE LIKE CARS ARE POP­U­LAR IN EUROPE, but though such ve­hi­cles used to sell well here, over the past cou­ple of decades New Zealand buy­ers have opted for larger vans, re­gard­less of the amount of space they ac­tu­ally need.

Small car-based vans make good sense. They’re eas­ier to ma­noeu­vre in traf­fic, eas­ier to park, eas­ier on fuel and the en­vi­ron­ment, and gen­er­ally speak­ing, un­less a co­pi­ous amount of cargo space is called for, are eas­ier to live with all-round.

So why have Ki­wis de­vel­oped a love af­fair with large vans when of­ten, a small one will do?

It seems to have hap­pened pro­gres­sively, with­out any­one pay­ing too much at­ten­tion to the whys or where­fores.

But the main rea­son seems to be that we’ve tran­si­tioned steadily from Euro­pean- or Bri­tish-sourced ve­hi­cles, to mod­els that come from Ja­pan.

Ford Es­corts, Mor­ris Mi­nors, Minis, Mari­nas and other car-based vans graced our roads in big num­bers in days gone by.

But the Corol­las, Mazda 3s, Civics and other small Ja­panese pas­sen­ger cars that are so pop­u­lar now, aren’t of­fered in van form.

Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers have con­tin­ued mak­ing lit­tle car-like vans, and they’re enor­mously pop­u­lar through­out Europe.

With busi­nesses start­ing to fo­cus more on leaner op­er­a­tion and lower en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, they’re start­ing to make some­thing of a come­back lo­cally.

Peu­geot’s Part­ner is a great suc­cess in Europe, and is avail­able in New Zealand with a 1.6-litre HDI com­mon-rail tur­bod­iesel engine, pro­duc­ing 66kw of max­i­mum power and 215Nm of peak torque, It drives the front wheels through a five-speed man­ual gear­box.

Only one model is avail­able here, the long wheel­base (LWB) vari­ant with slid­ing doors on both sides and asym­met­ric hinged rear doors.

The side door open­ings are 640mm wide by 1100mm high and the rear doors open to 180 de­grees for good load­ing ac­cess, even with a fork­lift.

The cargo area is quite cav­ernous for such a small ve­hi­cle, with a clever pas­sen­ger seat ar­range­ment that Peu­geot calls a Multi-flex bench seat.

It can fold away to free up ad­di­tional floor space and ex­tend the load­ing area to ac­com­mo­date long items like lad­ders, lengths of tim­ber or any­thing up to 3.25 me­tres.

Max­i­mum pay­load is 750kg, there are six tie-down hooks in the cargo area, and an over­head stor­age com­part­ment above the driver and pas­sen­ger.

Crea­ture com­forts in­clude a height- and reach-ad­justable steer­ing col­umn, Peu­geot Con­nect Cd/au­dio sys­tem with USB and Blue­tooth, and cruise-con­trol with speed-lim­iter.

Other fea­tures in­cluded in the stan­dard pack­age are cen­tral door­lock­ing with dead­locks con­trolled by a re­mote that of­fers sep­a­rate lock­ing for the cab and cargo ar­eas.

There are also front and rear fog­lights, cour­tesy lights in the pas­sen­ger and cargo ar­eas and elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated win­dows with a one-touch func­tion.

The Peu­geot Part­ner is a neat lit­tle pack­age, and like others in this sec­tor, is a log­i­cal choice for many busi­ness ap­pli­ca­tions.

And with a re­tail price of $31,990 and of­fer­ing fru­gal fuel econ­omy, a de­cent amount of kit and a car-like driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s a prac­ti­cal city de­liv­ery van that of­fers cost-ef­fec­tive run­ning.

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