2008 Peugeot Partner HDi Review & Road Test
Practical Pug needs a little more pep.
Practicality, Fuel Economy, Comfort, Price
Power, Performance, Side Door Access
– by Matt Brogan
Although the Partner is quite new to Australia, having only been released here last month, the popularity of the Peugeot Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) range globally cannot be underestimated.
There’s good reason for this too – and the 1.3 million examples manufactured since 1996 all point to the fact that the Spanish built, 308 based van is an above average representation of its kind – for not only does Partner offer a generously accommodating payload area, but decent capacity too, and perhaps most importantly, a comfortable and commanding driving position that sets the Partner apart from the rest.
With one trim level across the Partner range, two load volume and two payload options are available to best configure the van to individual needs. Additionally two body lengths are offered to afford buyers between 1800 and 2050mm load lengths (which can be expanded to 3250mm with the Multiflex seat option).
Barn type rear doors allow for easy access (1620mm maximum loading width), and given the smart design, Partner will take a regular 1200 x 800mm sized pallet between the wheel tubs.
A sliding door is available for an extra $490 (fitted to our road test model) to make for safer curb side loading and unloading for courier or delivery drivers (while LWB models pick up dual sliding doors as standard) but entry and exit is a little tight.
Offering an effective load volume ranging from 3.3 to 4.1 square metres, Partner boasts a 1250mm load area height, which coupled with a payload of up to 850kg, immediately places it as the market leader.
The compact exterior dimensions make for an easily maneuverable van that is reasonably attractive thanks mostly to a front end not dissimilar to the remainder of the Peugeot family. The lateral perspective and rear end view is not entirely unlovable either and makes for an excellent vehicle from a visual marketing standpoint, without being quirky or tacky (think Nissan Escargo).
Inside Partner can be optioned with modular (or Multiflex) seating that enables the vehicle to carry one or two passengers in either the outboard or middle seating position, as well as the driver, and provides ample proportions, ergonomic positioning and, perhaps most surprisingly, a very comfortable ride. Our test vehicle however only had a standard console.
The dash layout and clever use of otherwise wasted space as storage makes the Partner a practical and livable mobile office and even offers an optional middle seat, which can used as a desk or raised to provide access to the cargo area. When you’re finished, the middle seat can be stowed (using a padlock) for additional security.
While it can be slow going on the open road when packed with a bit of weight, the Partner is effective in maintaining pace around town thanks to a 55kW, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine that produces a solid torque curve, in fact over 90% of the available torque delivered from just 1250rpm.
The aluminium 16-valve unit manages 185Nm of torque all up and uses 5.8-litres per 100km (combined). Like I said, it’s a touch lazy, and were I to make one recommendation out of driving the Partner it would be to opt for the higher output 66kW variant of the same engine for just $500 more. Oh, and forget the petrol.
Gearing comes compliments of a five-speed manual unit that offers a suitable ratio spread for commercial purposes whilst still delivering economic highway travel. First can be a little brief when unloaded but you’ll be thankful for it once there’s a bit of weight on – especially when starting up steep hills.
The Partner tops out (eventually) at 150km/h and can complete the 0-100km/h stroll in a leisurely 19.6 seconds – if you try – though given the purposes of Partner’s intended use these figures are best thought of as curious trivia.
To keep the OH&S team happy, Partner is fitted standard with a driver’s airbag (passenger airbag is a cost option), three-point inertia seatbelts, ABS brakes with EBD and cruise control with speed limiter function. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Traction Control can also be fitted for just $450 – well worth the investment.
Given the amount of hours likely to be spent behind the wheel, Partner offers a considerable range of standard interior kit including air-conditioning, power-steering, single MP3 compatible CD tuner (which can be combined with Bluetooth handsfree integration), power windows and mirrors – also heated, remote central locking, trip computer, load restraint hooks, multiple storage compartments and the afore mentioned cruise control.
With a starting price of $21,990, three year/100,000km warranty and 15,000km service intervals, the Partner offers good peace of mind for the hard working trades or delivery person – plus it won’t break the bank. It’s a good deal, a pleasant drive and given how much time you’re likely to spend on the road, is well worth the look in if you’re in the market.
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