This third generation of the PSA middleweight packs more punch than its predecessors, writes Ian Shaw.
I can now admit that at the launch of the original version of the Citroen Dispatch and identical twin the Peugeot Expert, I never really understood what all the fuss was about.
The monospace concept was hailed by the designers as the greatest advancement in LCV thinking since the wheel, but I only saw a Mk1 Renault Espace with the windows panelled over, and one old journalist suggested to me that they had obviously never seen a Bedford CA (younger readers might wish to consult a grandparent at this stage).
The second generation came in with bit more substance, although the styling was a bit in-yer-face, but it sold in droves and pretty much set the benchmark for what is the highest sales volume class of panel van in Europe. Third time around then and the Dispatch and Expert are so good that they were bestowed with the highest accolade in the land: a WhatVan? Award. Toyota is in on the act too, as this van is a joint PSA effort with the global giant’s Proace model.
Offering two versions, the smaller is just 4.6m long with a turning circle of 11.3m, making it ideal in tight urban environments, but still offers some 5.0m3 of load volume and the de-rigueur 1,000kg of payload allowance.
If space is what you need however, then as much as 6.6m3 of load volume is up for grabs.
Power comes courtesy of PSA’s tried and trusted range of common-rail diesels, now starting at just 1.6 litres. Don’t be fooled though if you are coming from a backdrop of the punchy 1.9-litre lump. Outputs range from 95hp or 115hp in the 1.6 to 120hp, 150hp and 180hp in the 2.0-litre - the latter seems like overkill unless permanently full-up or towing.
A choice of manual or self-changing gears will please the traditionalist and city-dwelling tradesman alike, and keyless entry adds a gesture-operated side loading door, where a kick action under the bumper opens or closes it – like a posh estate car’s tailgate, but it’s probably much more use day-in day-out on a van. Couriers love it.
Being so recent there are not many reported faults with the Mk3 Dispatch but there’s quite a bit of evidence of starter motor trouble. This may be linked to the auto stop/start system, and obviously the more susceptible vehicles will be those in city traffic rather than motorway dwellers. Immobiliser issues seem unrelated to the starter, and early 2017 models suffered some front damper failures, which would suggest an isolated batch of components. At this age warranties will cover most eventualities, but check service history on high-milers.
With a huge range of length and load volume options, and the ability to search for its joint-effort sisters within the ranks of Peugeot and Toyota too, the level of equipment and degree of driver comfort means this model family looks set to be a popular choice for some years to come.
Five best options
1) 150hp engine
2) Auto transmission
3) Enterprise version
4) Long wheelbase
5) Hands-free door operation
1) 95hp engine
2) XS version
3) Compact version (for most jobs)
4) 180hp engine (for most jobs)
5) Any non-approved accessories