After just over 4,000 pretty much trouble-free miles we’ve waved bye-bye to our solidly-built Peugeot Partner long-term test van. Powered by the 90hp version of the 1.6-litre HDi diesel — a 75hp variant is also available — it came with SE trim and a three-man cab; unusual on this size of vehicle.
We opted for the smaller of the two available body sizes, which meant we had a 3.3m3 rather than a 3.7m3 cargo area to play with. Gross payload capacity was 851kg which we came nowhere near exceeding.
During our time with the vehicle it swallowed step-ladders, tins of paint, furniture, camera equipment and a portable air conditioning unit. Loading was easy through the twin asymmetric unglazed back doors — the narrower of the two is on the offside — and the sliding nearside door.
As some of the furniture had castors that defied any attempts to remove them we were grateful for the six floor-mounted load tie-down points. They allowed us to lash the more wayward items to the vehicle to ensure they didn’t slide about and get damaged.
A tailored plastic cover protected the floor, with panels partly defending the sides and doors against minor scratches and scrapes. We felt that was inadequate and that the entire cargo bay needed lining with ply to provide proper protection.
Our Partner boasted a useful removable torch that sat in an offside compartment close to the back door near a 12v power point and provided a secondary source of lighting for the cargo box. A conventional courtesy light was fitted too.
Did we manage to mislay the torch? Of course we did and we only realised that we’d left it at a delivery point over 100 miles away when we got back to home base. We retrieved it next time we were passing, but we couldn’t help but wonder whether other Partner pilots would be as lucky.
Turning to the cab, we can confirm that the amount of storage space available was invaluable given all the bits and pieces we managed to accumulate during our time with the vehicle. There was ample room for pens, A-to-Zs and atlases — not everyone uses or entirely trusts sat nav — cans of de-icer, windscreen scrapers and a high-visibility jacket.
We can also confirm that the middle seat is highly unpopular. There’s zero leg room and hardly any shoulder room either. Passengers almost literally fought not to have to use it. At least the Multi Flex seating arrangement allows you to fold down the outboard passenger seat and extend the cargo bed. That comes in handy if you’re shifting extra-long items.
The air conditioning was a lot more popular than the centre seat. A £600 option — an athermic windscreen is included in the deal — it proved as invaluable when it came to demisting screens as it doubtless will when what passes for a British summer eventually rolls round. Other options on the vehicle included a passenger airbag for £100 and metallic silver paint for £295. All prices quoted here exclude VAT.
We had no reason whatsoever to complain about a lack of performance. With 90hp on tap we were more than able to hold our own on motorways and dual carriageways, but it’s a shame we only had five forward gears to play with. There were several occasions when we wished we had a six-speed gearbox.
Partner’s suspension is a little on the soft side and prone to get twitchy on uneven surfaces. By and large though the ride is perfectly competent, as is the handling; the slight tendency to roll on corners reminds you not to push things to excess.
Fuel consumption is of paramount importance these days and we are glad to report that our long-termer averaged 45mpg pretty consistently during its time with us.
Everything went well until about two weeks before we were due to hand our uncomplaining workhorse back to Peugeot when disaster struck in the centre of London.
A grubby Ford Transit dropside coming the other way somehow managed to wallop the Partner’s passenger side mirror then vanished round the corner before we had time to blink. The mirror housing was undamaged but the glass tumbled out and cracked in several places.
We managed to reattach it and continue our journey home, but realised that it would need changing. So we got in contact with a local Peugeot dealer. Its parts department didn’t have the necessary piece of glass in stock – a little surprising given how much mirror damage vans sustain – so it had to be ordered.
Several days went by with no news. After almost a week had elapsed we rang the parts people to see what was happening only to be told that they required the van’s chassis number before the order could be placed. So why didn’t they tell us that to begin with? Why didn’t they take the trouble to ring us to let us know that they required this information rather than wait for us to call them? And surely the registration number – which they were given – would provide them with sufficient information? OK, all this took place during some severe winter weather, but that’s no excuse.
The vast majority of Peugeot dealers are doubtless far more efficient than the one we encountered. But this is exactly the sort of incident that can prompt a van owner to start looking at what the other dealerships in town have to offer next time he goes shopping for a vehicle; and that can result in a lost sale.
Aside from the glitch with the mirror glass, we enjoyed our time with Peugeot’s new Partner. It’s a sturdy, practical, pleasant-to-drive workhorse with ample performance if you specify the 90hp diesel, a well-designed cab — apart from that middle seat — and an easy to access cargo area. Go and check it out.