LIGHT COMMERCIAL -Partner by name and nature

8 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 9, 2018

Having rear and side opening doors means there‘s no need to climb aboard in the cut and thrust of daily pick-ups and deliveries.

Not every task needs a big, unwieldy van. Sometimes a smaller footprint works best – especially when it comes with a useful cargo space, a useable cabin, and a price that spells value.

A van can seem an intimidating beast to the everyday driver. It might be a toy compared with a truck, but beside a car it‘s big, blocky,
and delivers poor all-round vision. For some the compromises aren‘t worth it if you don‘t need to carry half a warehouse, and do need to be able to park frequently in ordinary spaces or underground parking buildings.

Which is where Peugeot‘s Partner steps in. The cabin is all car and so is the footprint, but there‘s a generous and well-thought-out cargo area out back which can easily be configured to most tasks.

Sadly, it didn‘t quite work for our standard load, an IBC on a pallet. The rear doors open out to 180 degrees to give a forklift driver the maximum space to move, and our pallet would have gone between the wheel arches, but was a scant 1.5cm too tall to pass the door catch — so we went for load plan B, and came away deeply impressed – not least at the fabulous deal.

The Peugeot is the perfect partner for car-sized deliveries when you have more than a car can handle. 

The Partner van first arrived here in 2009, when it retailed at $36,990. It has since had a facelift to match its look with the rest of the Peugeot family, but otherwise the most significant change has been the drop in price to $26,990, and the recent addition of windows for the two sliding rear doors, which make manoeuvring, or managing awkward angles at junctions, far safer as vision out is much improved.

Under the car-like bonnet there‘s a 1.6-litre high-pressure direct-injection turbo-diesel engine transferring power to the wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission.

Admittedly we never carried the maximum 750kg load, but the Partner felt strong in all conditions we encountered thanks to the 215Nm torque, and the fact it peaks at just 1500rpm, which meant that at round-town speeds the Partner was willing and brisk, while happy to cruise at open-road speeds.

The driver‘s compartment is just a car in all reality, offering an intimidation factor of zero.

The cabin itself was easy to navigate around, as basically it‘s a car, with two airbags, cruise control with a speed limiter, rear park aids, Bluetooth hands-free, and air con. But there also practical features we wish more car designers would consider, like a sliding drawer under the passenger seat to keep spare guff safe, or your wallet out of sight. There‘s a bag hook in the cabin on the passenger side to stop your shopping/takeaways/satchel sliding about, and as well as the small glovebox, there‘s another storage compartment in the dash above the steering wheel, while the centre seat delivers a desk when it‘s folded down.

In theory a driver can carry two passengers in what Peugeot calls a Multi-Flex passenger seat, but they‘d have to be slim.

Behind you there‘s the cargo barrier, which is standard fit, and includes a flip-down section so you can fold the front passenger seat forward and flat for longer loads.

The load area itself is 2050mm long and 1229 wide, to deliver a load space of 3.7 cubic metres, or 4.1 if you‘re using that space vacated by folding the seat.

The load space is very easy to access thanks to the two back and two side doors; effectively you can reach most of it, and all of the six tie-down hooks, without having to climb aboard.

Which came in useful when we put Plan B into play.

A neighbour was moving house and had misjudged the amount of guff to pack into the car after the furniture truck had left. The Partner was pressed into service, picking its way down a steep, potholed rural drive, manoeuvring round a turning area cluttered with pots and boxes – the rear park aids, side windows and effective side mirrors delivering a tag team to prevent a collision — then opening its doors to receive chairs and a table, filing cabinets and boxes, poster tubes and much, much more, very little of it sensibly packed.

It was like loading Mary Poppins‘ handbag. The Partner would look full, but when another box appeared, it went in without effort.

Then the diesel engine virtually idled the whole lot back up that steep, potholed drive, and off we went.


Naturally many buyers will be keener to fit shelves and brackets out back, and put the Partner into service as a mechanic‘s van, or similar. But regardless of what you‘re carrying, you‘ll enjoy the car-like handling and comfortable ride, no doubt achieved thanks to the fact this platform is shared with the likes of Peugeot‘s 307 and 308 hatch.

You‘re also likely to enjoy the fuel economy. The official combined claim is 5.5l/100km, or 6.3 for city driving, not far off what we achieved with a combination of hilly and urban driving, and almost no open roading.

Really the only niggle was the noise from the open box out back, but that‘s par for the workhorse course, assuming you don‘t fit sound-deadening to the panels.

Partner seems a good name for this Peugeot. One can see it as a well-priced service van – a mechanic‘s sidekick – or pressed into use for last-mile deliveries in busy urban centres: ably dispatching any task requiring carriage of goods or tools along with a compact footprint and a comfy environment from which to work, whatever the distance to be accomplished in the process.