When times are tough it is essential to reduce overheads without damaging your business. So why go to the expense of running a car as well as a van if you can make one vehicle do the job of both? Admittedly achieving such a compromise isn’t simple, but Peugeot has made it a lot easier with the launch of the Partner Crew Van.
Partner is available in two different overall lengths these days. Sold in entry-level S trim, and classed as a light commercial rather than a car for VAT purposes, Crew Van is based on the longer, L2 version.
Power comes courtesy of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder 16-valve HDi diesel with 90hp on offer. Maximum power bites at 4,000rpm, with top torque of 215Nm kicking in at 1,750rpm, and the engine is married to a five-speed gearbox.
Independent MacPherson-type suspension is installed at the front with lower wishbone suspension arms. An independent trailing arm set-up helps support the rear with a semi-deformable transverse beam plus inclined dampers on hydraulic mounts. Anti-roll bars are fitted front and back.
Disc brakes are installed all round — ventilated at the front, solid at the rear — and ABS, Electronic Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are included in the deal. Our test vehicle’s 15ins steel wheels wore Michelin Energy Saver 195/65 R15 tyres. Hydraulic power-assisted steering is standard.
Grossing at 2,195kg, Crew Van can handle a 716kg gross payload and tow a braked trailer with an all-up weight of 935kg.
Fold the three-man rear seat flat — not a difficult exercise — and you’ve got 3.3m3 of cargo space to play with. Keep it upright and you’ve got a still-useful 2.4m3 to fill.
Unfortunately that comes at the expense of rear passenger legroom and tall travellers may find they get increasingly uncomfortable on long trips. At least all of the rear seat’s occupants benefit from lap-and-diagonal belts and headrests and can make use of both nearside and offside sliding, unglazed doors to gain access.
The rearmost doors are side-hinged and asymmetric, with the narrower of the two mounted on the offside. They can be pushed through 90°, or through 180° if you unlatch the easy-to-release stays.
Lashing points are provided so that the load can be secured and a mesh bulkhead is put into place no matter whether the seats are up or down.
Maximum load length is 1,805mm, reducing to 1,320mm with the rear seats up, while maximum height is 1,250mm. Maximum width is 1,380mm narrowing to 1,229mm between the wheel boxes, while rear loading height is 612mm. The rear door aperture is 1,148mm high and 1,250mm wide. Dimensions for the side door apertures are 1,192mm and 737mm respectively.
One useful feature of the thoughtfully-laid-out cab area is the bin between the front seats. With a roller-shutter-style lid it is a lot roomier than it looks and will swallow all sorts of items.
Other oddment stowage facilities include a bin in each of the front doors complete with a moulding that will take a soft drink can, a full-width shelf above the windscreen and a glovebox with a shelf inside. That’s in addition to a lidded compartment above the instrument binnacle and cubby holes on each side of the heating and ventilation controls.
The moulding which curves out from the dashboard and plays host to the gearlever also features a hook on which to hang your Friday night bag of tasty goodies from the Indian takeaway.
Our Crew Van was equipped with air conditioning as part of a £710 pack (all prices quoted here exclude VAT) that also includes an athermic windscreen, electrically-adjustable and heated exterior mirrors which would benefit from a separate wide-angle section, and a lid for the glovebox.
Good to experience such a comfortable driver’s seat, which has especially effective lumbar support. Equipped with an inboard armrest it’s height-adjustable, as is the steering wheel, and the driver is protected by an airbag.
Entertainment is provided by an MP3-compatible radio/CD player with steering column-mounted remote controls. There’s a 12v power point on the dashboard and electric front windows are fitted.
Fold the back of the passenger seat flat and you create a handy desk that can be used for the completion of paperwork.
With 90hp to play with there’s no lack of performance and Crew Van is as at home on the motorway as it is around town. With ample feedback from the steering, the handling is more than satisfactory. So is the fuel economy — we averaged 45mpg — and in-cab noise levels are well-suppressed.
On the downside the gearchange is rubbery and the suspension a touch too soft for our tastes, although in its defence it is capable of coping with most of the potholes that pepper the UK’s poorly-maintained highways.
Our test vehicle was equipped with parking sensors for an extra £190. Remote central locking is fitted which allows the rear doors to be locked and unlocked separately from the front ones.
Service intervals are set at 12,500 miles/two years and Partner is covered by a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, with no mileage restriction in the first two years. A year’s roadside assistance is provided too, but responds solely to warrantable faults on the vehicle; not if you’ve mislaid your keys or run out of fuel. Insurance group is respectably low 3E T2.
While not everybody will be able to take advantage of what Peugeot’s versatile Partner Crew Van has to offer — tall passengers may be especially reluctant — those that are able to will make a substantial saving. Jettisoning your existing car and van and acquiring one vehicle that can do the job of two spells a massive reduction in service and repair bills alongside a cut in insurance costs. What’s more, you’ll be paying one lot of Vehicle Excise Duty a year; not two. Opt for Crew Van and you’ll be able to carry either a pile of cargo or five people and a smaller pile of cargo. It doesn’t lack performance, it handles well and it’s frugal too. OK, the gearchange is rubbery, the ride is on the soft side and legroom for rear passengers is at a premium, but for many the Peugeot’s advantages will outweigh its drawbacks. With a new age of austerity upon us, it’s a van that’s in tune with the times.