Happily its successor was well worth waiting for, and is now shaping up to be a key competitor in the hard-fought compact panel van sector. Front-wheel drive just like its predecessor, the Expert is also marketed by Citroen as the Dispatch – both brands form part of the PSA group – and by Toyota as the Proace.

Unlike their predecessors, the Expert, Dispatch and Proace are not sold by Fiat Professional under the Scudo banner. This time around Fiat has decided to opt for a rebadged version of Renault’s Trafic, which it markets as the Talento.

Anybody interested in an Expert/Dispatch/Proace will be contemplating a van with two wheelbases, three body lengths and one roof height, with up to 6.6m3 of load space. It is also produced as a double-cab and as a platform cab. Carrying capacity has risen by approximately 200kg compared with what was on offer previously. Under the bonnet you will find either a 1.6-litre (95hp, 115hp) or a 2.0-litre diesel (120hp, 150hp, 180hp) engine.

Transmission choices depending on make and model are five- or six-speed manual, automated manual or fully auto. Having tackled Citroen’s 120hp Dispatch Enterprise M BlueHDi 120 van with the middle body length and also Toyota’s Proace Van Compact Comfort 1.6D 95 – one of the shortest variants available – we elected to sample a Peugeot this time around. We went for the mid body-length Expert Professional Plus Standard BlueHDi 150 1,400kg with the 150hp diesel and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Professional Plus denotes the Expert’s top level of trim, which is one rung above Professional and two above S.

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Load bay

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.

Interior and equipment

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.


Engine and gearbox

Pumping out maximum power at 4,000rpm, the Expert’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder 16-valve diesel generates top torque of 370Nm at 2,000rpm and is married to a six-speed manual gearbox. Meeting the Euro6 exhaust emission rules means that the van will have to be replenished with AdBlue every so often. The reservoir’s filler point is concealed by the passenger door.


With 150hp on tap the Expert delivers ample performance, and with six speeds to play with it is pretty much an ideal motorway cruiser. It’s no slouch on A- and B-roads either and its ability to dart away quickly from rest gives it an advantage in urban traffic. That said, it’s a shame that the gear change isn’t a bit slicker. Executing a really fast cog swap is such a challenge that the driver can sometimes struggle to make the most of what the engine has to offer.

The electric power steering tightens up sufficiently to allow you to tackle sweeping motorway bends with aplomb while offering sufficient assistance to enable you to park easily. It delivers a 12.4m turning circle between kerbs expanding to 12.9m between walls.

More feedback would be appreciated when you are scurrying along twisting rural roads, however. Those rural roads are invariably peppered with potholes of varying sizes and depths along with numerous other imperfections.

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Happily, the Expert copes with it all surprisingly well, and better than the Proace Compact we drove a few months ago. Our Expert sat on 17-inch alloy wheels shod with Michelin Agilis Alpin (for extra grip) 215/60 R17 C tyres.

MacPherson-type suspension is fitted at the front with an anti-roll bar, while wishbone suspension with trailing arms is installed at the back. In-cab noise levels are kept well under control, aided in part by the presence of the sound-insulating acoustic windscreen. If you are proposing to tackle driving conditions that are more demanding than usual then you might want to avail yourself of Grip Control, which is an option.

Turn a knob to the right of the steering column and you can alter the vehicle’s traction control system depending on whether you are tackling mud, sand, snow or ordinary road surfaces. Within its limitations it works well, and makes more sense for operators who do not need to venture onto demanding off-road terrain than shelling out for a light commercial with full-blown four-wheel drive.

Do all those aforementioned extra-cost safety systems bring any benefits? The answer has to be yes, but just how beneficial they are depends on the sort of duty cycle you are on. If you spend most of your working life on the motorway then lane departure warning has to make sense; if you chug around a city centre all day then you should definitely consider active safety brake.

We’re acutely aware that van operators tend not to want to pay for safety, so the only way in which widespread adaption will be achieved will be to make the whole lot standard.



The Expert comes with a three-year/100,000-mile warranty with no mileage limit in the first two years. Roadside assistance is included for the first 12 months. Service intervals are set at two years/25,000 miles. We averaged around 47.0mpg, some way behind the official combined fuel economy figure of 53.3mpg.

Remember, though, that official fuel figures seldom give an accurate indication of a van’s real-world economy and should be taken with several very large pinches of salt.

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Stop/start, meanwhile, helped to keep fuel usage down. Set low down on the van’s sides, side-rubbing strips should help protect the body and its metallic paint – standard with Professional Plus – from minor damage. Like the mirror casings, bumpers and door handles, they were colour-keyed to match the rest of the vehicle.

A full-size spare wheel is provided – always better in our view than an inflator with sealant. Finally, included in the deal is an alarm, along with remote central-locking with deadlocks and separate locking for the cab.

Peugeot Expert Professional Plus Standard BlueHDi 150 1400kg

Price (ex VAT) £24,265
Price range (ex VAT) £18,315-£27,365
Gross payload 1,484kg
Load length 2,512mm
Load width (min/max) 1,258/1,628mm
Load bay height 1,397mm
Load volume 5.3m3
Loading height 544mm
Rear door aperture 1,282 x 1,220mm
Side door aperture 935 x 1,241mm
Gross vehicle weight 3,100kg
Braked trailer towing weight 2,500kg
Residual value 19.5%
Cost per mile 47.4p
Engine size 1997cc, 150hp @ 4,000rpm
Torque 370Nm @ 2,000rpm
Gearbox 6-spd
Fuel economy 53.3mpg (combined)
Fuel tank 70 litres
CO2 139g/km
Warranty 3yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals 2yrs/25,000mls
Insurance group 38E
Price as tested £26,490

Options fitted: Connect Nav, Driver Assist Pack and Head-Up Display (£1,375), Safety Pack; Lane Departure Warning (£700), Grip Control (£550), Automatic dual-zone air-conditioning (£500).

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Ford Transit Custom

  • Price (ex VAT) £20,395-£31,545
  • Load volume 6.0-8.3m3
  • Gross payload 674-1,474kg
  • Engine 105hp, 130hp, 170hp 2.0 diesel

The Transit Custom is the one to beat: handling, ride and performance are all first-rate, RVs are rock-solid, and Ford dealers abound. Check out the new auto, and a revamped Custom was about to be unveiled at the time of writing.

Vauxhall Vivaro

  • Price (ex VAT) £20,620-£27,770
  • Load volume 5.2-8.6m3
  • Gross payload 9,89-1280kg
  • Engine 95hp, 120hp, 125hp, 145hp 1.6 diesel

British-made and proud of it, the Vivaro rides and handles well, doesn’t lack performance and contains one or two thoughtful ideas. It also shares the same design as Renault’s Trafic, Nissan’s NV300 and Fiat Professional’s Talento.

Volkswagen Transporter

  • Price (ex VAT) £19,290-£38,920
  • Load volume 5.8-9.3m3
  • Gross payload 718-1,274kg
  • Engine 84hp, 102hp, 150hp, 204hp 2.0 diesel

Forget about its unadventurous looks – the Transporter is built to an astonishingly high standard, offers praiseworthy levels of safety, is enjoyable to drive and is a cost-effective and durable workhorse.