DURING this whole pandemic caper we’ve been living through, we’ve seen the rise and fall of many businesses, which is an utter shame. But beyond the doom and gloom there is hope, and hope can be found in diversification, willpower and well, Peugeot.
“What the heck are these fools on about…” well, let us explain. You see, the changes in how we live have clearly highlighted the need for fast and local delivery of food and various other goods.
It’s a requirement that is only going to become increasingly more important for small businesses, and there’s no better tool for this than a van. Such a vehicle could save you time and money, and make your life easier.
Now when we say a van, we aren’t talking about the usual big, bulky, butter box on wheels. Instead, we’re talking about a compact urban crawler, something like the 2021 Peugeot Partner.
Recently updated to a new platform, sharing its underpinnings with such vehicles as the Citroen Berlingo III, as well as drawing on the goodness found in the new Peugeot 3008 and 5008.
The Partner looks great for a van, and while our tester came in the stereotypical white paint job, you can still select from four other colours should they tickle your fancy. There are also three variants that you can choose from.
These include the petrol powered 110 Standard (with manual transmission) and 130 Standard (with auto transmission), and the diesel engine 92 Long (again, with a manual transmission).
Now, these might sound like some sort of sandwich from Subway, but it’s just Peugeot’s naming strategy, designed to highlight whether the body is of standard length or long. In our case, we’re testing the 130 Standard, with automatic transmission.
Under the bonnet is a surprisingly good three cylinder engine, with the 1.2-litre turbocharged power plant producing 96kW of power and 230Nm of torque. Pair this with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the Partner is ready for work.
Don’t let the fact the Partner has a tiny (award winning) engine put you off either. Size doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it. More impressive though, is the fact 95 per cent of maximum torque is available between 1750 and 3500rpm.
That makes for exceptional engine response and effortless performance, even when towing. It’s clever engineering, and while it’s the little engine that could, it does get a teensy bit thirsty.
Peugeot claim a combined usage of 6.3-litres/100km but during our time testing, we were lucky to see under 8.5-litres/100km. While this isn’t a show stopper, you might find you have to fill up a little more than usual. It will really depend on what you are doing.
On the inside, the 2021 Peugeot Partner gains the company’s updated i-Cockpit interior layout, designed for all the varying needs of small business users. The driving position and drivability is as easy and familiar to drive as your regular car.
All models can easily accommodate a full size (1200 x 1200mm) Aussie pallet between the rear wheel arches via the rear hinged double doors, which open to 180 degrees for easier loading. There aren’t a lot of vans or even utes that can do that.
The Standard body has an internal load length of 1817mm too, but this can be extended to 3090mm with a Multiflex opening bulkhead. Besides all of that, it also features a class leading 1000kg payload. There’s also a towing load of up to 950kg (braked).
As we said earlier, the Partner really is ready for your career or business diversification. We will stress that there are three items inside the cabin that you’ll love or hate though, and the first is the rotary dial gear selector.
Gear selections, should they need to be done in a hurry, like say from reverse to drive, might be difficult to achieve, at least until you really get the hang of it. The second is the F1-style Peugeot sports steering wheel, which features a flattened top and bottom.
If you’ve driven the French car maker’s road cars, you’ll know what we’re talking about, and like the other models it builds (including the impressive new 2008 which also sports a three cylinder engine), it does have paddle shifters.
Now the last item, is well, new and different. It’s an innovative rear/side vision system that uses a pair of cameras to apparently dramatically improve your view to the rear and left side of the vehicle.
Images are displayed on a screen in the place normally occupied by the rear-view mirror, providing for a continuous, clear and clutter-free view. The problem is the screen’s display feels like we’re watching someone play snake on a Nokia 3310, and it’s worse at night.
You do still get traditional side mirrors though, and we highly recommend them. The list of technology in the Partner is impressive though, and includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth as standard.
On the safety front, the Peugeot van cleans up with autonomous emergency braking, electronic automatic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic height adjustable halogen headlights.
We know that Peugeot vans aren’t for everyone, but once you get past the French-ness, and spend a little time behind the wheel, you’ll honestly fall in love, and want to buy a fleet of them for your new business venture.
It’s reasonably priced at $31,490 plus on-roads, comfortable, clever and jam packed with tech. So if you’re looking to get yourself out there, diversify and reinvent for 2021, the Peugeot Partner is ready and awaiting your orders.
It’s available in five colours, including White, Onyx Black, Aluminium Grey, Platinum Grey and Ardent Red.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Peugeot Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Peugeot Partner, contact your local Peugeot dealer.