Launched in 1996, the first generation Expert was only available in one size with a load area of 4.0m3. How times have changed with the introduction its all-new model range. And it’s not just available as a van this time around. Like its siblings the Citroën Dispatch and Fiat Scudo it can also be had as a window van and a platform cab.
With two wheelbases and a high roof option for the long one the new Expert is available with load capacities of 5.0m3, 6.0m3 and 7.0m3. Load length is 2,254mm for the short- and 2,584mm for the long-wheelbase and load height starts at 1,449mm for the low roof and increases to 1,750mm for the high option.
Like the Citroën and Fiat versions there is a choice of three engines, starting with the 1.6HDi which produces 90 bhp and develops 179Nm of peak torque. There are two 2.0HDi common rail diesels up for grabs; one rated at 120 bhp and the other at 136 bhp. Peak torque figures are 300Nm and 319Nm respectively. The smallest capacity diesel drives the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, while the two others get a six-speeder. We would recommend the 1.6 solely for around town work as it can struggle a bit out on the motorway. The 120 bhp 2-litre is the one to go for unless fully loaded long trips are envisaged.
Not that spending a great deal of time in it is a hardship; far from it. The Expert is a comfortable place to be thanks to a well designed cab which features a well positioned gearchange, supportive seats and bags of storage space.
Access to the load area is by means of a sliding door on each side plus unglazed, side-hinged symmetrical rear doors. The latter can be pushed through 90° and through 180° if the easy-to-release door stays are utilised. The rear door aperture is 1,237mm wide and 1,272mm high. Dimensions for the side apertures are 924mm and 1,293mm respectively. A load restraint frame is mounted behind the driver’s seat — it doesn’t come with a full bulkhead as standard and we would strongly advise having one fitted; it’s noisy and less secure without one. Cargo can be secured using the eight load tie-down rings and anything that isn’t lashed down — and it should be — and slides forwards will hopefully be caught by the pronounced lip at the
cab-end of the load bed.
All the doors are controlled by remote central locking, but first-time drivers are advised to check the positioning of the bonnet release lever before setting off. It’s mounted on the floor beneath a little hatch.
The mechanical warranty is three-years/60,000 miles and servicing is required every 20,000 miles.
Expert is a state-of-the-art product with a wide model selection and good choice of engines. Reason enough for it to be the joint winner of our best small panel van award for 2007 and 2008.