Now with an eight speed automatic transmission, the 2021 Peugeot Expert continues the uphill battle of securing a slice of Australia’s medium-sized van market.
Although new to the market in 2019, and impressing immediately, sales numbers have remained relatively small for the Expert.
It’s a segment, like many others, utterly dominated by Toyota with 1500 HiAce sales reported for the first two months of 2021. That’s followed by the Hyundai iLoad (712) and Ford Transit Custom (660).
In the same period, the Expert has logged only 19. Nineteen.
Does that mean the Expert is only 1.26 percent as good a van as the HiAce? Not a sight. It’s got the measure of the Toyota in some ways, and goes so far to better it in others. Let’s have a closer look.
|2021 Peugeot Expert 150 Standard auto|
|Engine||Four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Displacement||2.0 litres (1997 cc)|
|Power||110kW @ 4000rpm|
|Torque||370Nm @ 2000rpm|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque-converter automatic|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle, claimed)||6.4L/100km|
|Fuel consumption (on test)||6.6L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||69L|
|Price as tested (before on-road costs)||$42,490|
While also available in a long format, we’ve got the shorter option with the ‘150HDI’ automatic drivetrain. 2.0-litres of turbo-diesel engine makes 110kW and 370Nm, running through a new eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission to the front wheels. A more powerful 130kW/400Nm version is also available, but only for the Expert Long.
Our tester is priced from $42,490 before on-road costs, $2500 more than an equivalent manual-geared Expert, and $1700 less than the longer body option.
First impressions of Expert inside are good. The interior has a unique design and feel, but importantly, is practical. Gear selection is handled by a rotary knob, and you’ve got a few different nooks and shelves for storage.
There is storage high atop the dashboard, and on the passenger side is a deceptively large cavern, capable of fitting plenty of day-to-day gear.
There is also handy storage under the two passengers seats, which is partly accessible via a removable hatch in the bulkhead, allowing small items to be securely stowed, or especially long loads to fit from front to rear.
The infotainment display, measuring in at 7.0-inches, sports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The operating system is decent enough, and keeping a volume knob within reach helps easy control when on the fly.
In front of the driver is a basic multifunction display, which offers your speed readout, lane departure warnings and fuel consumption.
The Expert also has paddle shifters, but I'll be buggered if you'd ever need to use them.
While Peugeot does list 'up to 1300 kilograms' of payload on their specification sheet, calculating an actual payload (calculating GVM minus kerb weight) of our van comes to 847kg. In other specifications, you can get up to 1139kg.
The powertrain did prove to be quite efficient in our test, although we did mostly highway driving, we were loaded up for part of that time and averaged 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres.
That’s quite efficient, and some buyers will like the fact that the Expert runs to more strict European emission regulations, though in this case it's Euro 5 compliant, not the newer, 'cleaner' Euro 6 of the 180HDI version.
Performance is mostly good, with the eight-speed automatic gearbox giving a wide range of ratios to smoothly pick between. 1st and 2nd gear ratios seem quite short, but the gearbox is adept enough to rifle through them quickly and smoothly.
And when both laden and unladen, the Expert does have great ride and steering characteristics for a van. It’s comfortable and controlled in both situations, and would be easy to live with and pilot through town.
Having a wide range of active safety technology is an important factor, and the new Expert delivers in this regard: There’s autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and a decent quality reversing camera.
There is also adaptive cruise control, speed limiter, automatic wipers and headlights, and a forward collision warning system. It’s good and thorough, and scores better than some of the passenger cars out there.
While you can choose a 5.3-metre long expert (which also comes with a more powerful engine option), we’ve got the standard 4.95-metre option. And loaded up to GVM with the six tie-down points in the back, we took off for some additional driving.
It’s also worth noting that the 3725mm wheelbase and 12.4 metre turning circle remains unchanged, regardless of which you choose.
Firstly, the extra opening ability of the rear doors with a trick hinge system, allowing the forklift to drop a loaded pallet into the back, is handy. The pallet fit in, but it was a little tight.
And once we hit the road, we noticed the engine starting to work a little hard maintaining the same kind of progress as before. It wasn’t too slow or onerous, but losing that overall edge is still worth noting.
Suspension, however, kept its overall composure and control well. You can see the amount of positive rake Peugeot puts into the suspension, to allow for big variances in load.
This van is much, much better than the sales figures suggest, and it likely deserves better success against the incumbent HiAce. The Expert is more efficient and equally as comfortable, and is cheaper to service and maintain. However, the powertrain doesn't handle loads as well.
But regardless, the Expert is certainly worth consideration.