Is the 2019 Peugeot Expert truly an 'expert' of the segment?
When you think of a panel van, what do you think of? A Transit? Perhaps even a Sprinter? Those are among the best selling vans in the world, so you're right to think of them straight away. For some years though, Peugeot have been making robust industry standard commercial vehicles which command a lower price.. but could they keep up with the 'big boys' of the industry?
10 years ago you'd be right to think that paying the lesser price, you were getting less. Countless friends whom had French vans were always updating me on engine or electrical issues, however it seems the tides have finally changed in favour of the underdog.
The 2019 Peugeot Expert is an every day commercial vehicle which can be specified in a multitude of body styles and with a multitude of engine variants. The technology as standard is extremely high and the styling is a nice change from the German rivals. This is a van which has also won multiple awards on economy and can easily take a Euro-Pallet in the back.
Owner reviews are suggesting that the unreliability of the past is long gone, the refined Peugeot commercials of 2019 are just that.. refined. I spent a week with one to find out if that was true and just how good the all-new Peugeot Expert was.
The front end is typically French, however you'll find what's beneath it in a multitude of sister vehicles.
The exterior was the first thing to take me by surprise, I couldn't decide if I really liked it or really hated it. Diamond-cut alloys made the exterior more interesting, however on city streets these are likely to be ruined within days. The van has truly nice lines on the front, a premium looking exterior and it also doesn't look out of proportion even in long-wheel-base. The rear end could have used a bit more imagination.. but hey.. it's a panel van.
By the end of the week I actually really liked the exterior, the fact the design makes it stand out from rival vans made this appeal more to me. The sleek look of the exterior almost implied a 'sport' feel, the only issue with that was the small wing-mirrors which restricted visibility around town. Asides from that, what else can you say - it's a panel van and they don't tend to be fancy.
When you step inside, you find yourself surrounded by surprising luxury - especially when you consider the price. The vehicle I had on test was the Professional Plus, so loads of technology for a reasonable price (£34,108 OTR). Surround view camera, DAB, Apple CarPlay, voice recognition and much more - the interior is alike a car more than a van.
I found it quiet, comfortable and easy to drive. Whilst you do have blindspots due to the smaller wing mirrors, blind spot monitors helped to minimise chance of issues. The standard sound system was punchy and loud, the infotainment was easy to use and the general feel of the interior was considerably beyond what you'd have thought possible in a commercial vehicle.
There's also 45 litres of storage space for all the drive-thru goodies you can buy, however the upper cup holders are a little lacking in size for the bigger drinks. Better stick to Flat White cups in those for fear of spilling Monster all over you on the motorway.
Performance wise it wasn't a slouch.. but also not a Ferrari by any means. The 2.0 diesel gives you 150bhp/370Nm torque, with 0-62 coming in 11 seconds and topping out at about 106mph. This means when you need to floor it, you can, regardless of the load in the back. The torque from the award winning engine shows itself when you need it.
Economy wise, that's where I think this is the best over the competition. Peugeot claim 57.6mpg on a run, amazingly it's totally achievable (without a load in). The 2.0 diesel engine is so refined and fuel efficient you'd be unlucky to see under 35mpg average combined - over a week of town driving I averaged 39mpg. With weight in I'd expect it to drop, but not massively - obviously driving style with dictate that a lot, but it's a truly impressive engine.
Driving wise it's superb fun, mainly due to the fact that underneath the Expert is effectively a 308, so the driving characteristics are amazingly car-like. It's very composed and nimble, the gearbox has a great feel and throw (in a van?!) and the brakes are punchy so you can really have fun on b-roads without worrying. Only on occasion does the size of the vehicle become obvious, otherwise you feel like you're driving a small nippy van - not a long-wheel-base tank.
Is the 2019 Peugeot Expert and expert in the field? Has it risen to and beaten the rivals? Really it depends entirely what you want it for, as whilst some bits of it are so SO good, other bits aren't as fancy as higher price competitor vehicles in the segment (obviously).
It looks great, is superbly capable and a true utility, turns around an amazingly frugal economy and comes with more basic technology than you could ask for - but if you want something really fancy and 'pretty', you'll have to look elsewhere. The Expert is a proper 'van', it's full of hard-use plastics and has mechanisms made to withstand even the most clumsy of people. Even the exterior panels are super strong, car park trolly / door dings are a thing of the past
As a work vehicle, you'd have one in an instant - and for me, I'd happily drive one every day as the driving characteristics and frugality more than make up for anything you think you're missing out on with the competition. Peugeot have done a superb job making the Expert such an 'expert' in the segment.