Twin rear doors and a sliding door on each side give entry to the cargo area, which offers a more generous gross payload capacity than one might expect – 1,484kg rather than 1,400kg, although the latter figure is closer to the true payload if one knocks off a nominal 75kg to allow for the weight of the driver. All the doors are opaque and the rear ones can be swung through 90°.
Release the stays using their easy-to-see, easy-to-use levers and you can swing them through 180°. A full-height steel bulkhead comes as standard and half-a-dozen floor-mounted cargo tie-down rings are provided.
Our Expert’s load area was timbered out to protect it against minor damage and the load bed was protected by a tailored cover.
Why on earth do manufacturers squeeze three seats into cabs the size of the Expert’s? Doing so condemns the occupant of the middle perch to a woefully uncomfortable journey with severely restricted space for his or her right leg and inadequate shoulder room.
It also means the driver’s hand is tight up against the inboard passenger seat’s cushion whenever the handbrake needs to be engaged or released. Furthermore, the driver’s seat has to be positioned so close to the door in a bid to create space widthways that it is impossible to gain access to anything in the door’s lowermost bin when it is shut.
Memo to the manufacturers concerned: stop this pretence that vans like the Expert can comfortably accommodate a three-seater cab, and stop it now. These criticisms aside, what you encounter when you slide behind the steering wheel is a by and large practical and not unpleasant working environment with plenty of oddment stowage space – if you can get at it.
Each door boasts shelves and bins of various sizes, one of which is very capacious. The glove box is roomy too – but cannot be locked – while three shelves set into the dashboard plus a lidded compartment on top are handy places to put pens and small change.
Pulling up the centre seat’s cushion reveals a shallow compartment you can use to conceal your smartphone. The centre seat’s back folds forwards and turns into a desk with an elasticated band to keep paperwork in place.
Symbols on the desk advise you not to drive and use your laptop at the same time. The outboard passenger seat can be folded up to create extra floor space as part of a package known as Moduwork. It includes a flap in the bottom of the bulkhead that folds backwards into the cargo area and allows you to push extra-long items beneath the seat.
It adds a potentially very useful 1,162mm to the bed length. Cup-holders – one of which plays host to a removable ashtray – sit at each end of the top of the dashboard. The steering wheel and driver’s seat are both height- and reach-adjustable.
The seat features lumbar adjustment and an inboard armrest. The Expert comes with the usual array of electronic safety systems including ABS, electronic stability control, emergency braking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and hill assist, which aids you if you have to move away on a steep incline. Disc brakes are fitted all round – solid at the back, ventilated at the front.
Included in the deal too are automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers. Our demonstrator was fitted with lane departure warning. It alerts the driver if the van starts to drift out of lane on a dual-carriageway or on the motorway.
It forms part of an optional Safety Pack, which tells you what the prevailing speed limit is using a dashboard display. You can then set the cruise control/speed limiter to that limit if you’ve a mind to. The pack additionally features Smart Beam Headlights – they dip automatically at night at speeds above 15mph when an oncoming vehicle is detected. We benefitted from the Connect Nav pack, another extra-cost option. As well as satellite navigation it embraces a head-up colour display – a retractable plastic strip in the driver’s field of vision in front of the windscreen that shows vital information such as speed – and a Driver Assist Pack, which includes adaptive cruise control and active safety brake.
Adaptive cruise control ensures that you remain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead at all times and can reduce your speed by up to 12.5mph. Active Safety Brake will bring you to a halt automatically if you are driving through a busy town centre at up to 18mph and somebody in front suddenly slams on their brakes.
It significantly reduces the size of the impact at higher speed too, says Peugeot. Park Assist 180° front and rear parking sensors with a blind-spot monitoring system and a reversing camera are standard with the Professional Plus trim.
Many of these facilities can be turned off and on using the seven-inch colour touch-screen in the centre of the fascia that also controls the radio and satnav. Professional Plus trim embraces front fog lights, LED daytime running lights, electric windows, heated and electrically adjustable and folding exterior mirrors, and a dual-zone automatic air-conditioning system. Drive for more than two hours and a coffee break alert will appear on the fascia to advise you to stop and have something to drink. Sensible, without a doubt, but it does smack of nannying. Present too are driver and passenger airbags plus a 12V power point.
You’ll find another one in the load area. Buttons on the steering wheel set the cruise control with a programmable speed limiter and the wheel also plays host to remote controls for the Connect Radio DAB radio. A USB port is provided as is an audio jack, and the cab is Bluetooth-enabled. Also provided is MirrorLink, which exports your smartphone’s content to the dashboard display.