An expert in its field
Boasting substantial payload capacities and torquey diesel engines, Peugeot’s Expert van range ushers in a new era for the French manufacturer in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) realm. Prime Mover loaded a top-of-the-line version to its maximum weight capacity to see how it handles and hauls the load.
After an absence of around four years from the Australian LCV market, this year Peugeot has returned with a vengeance to battle it out with the established players in the field.
The Expert Prime Mover tested was a top-of-the-range 180 which has a 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine good for 180hp (130kW) and a muscular 400Nm of torque coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. This version is priced from $45,890.
With an overall body length of 5,309mm and a lengthy 3,275mm wheelbase, the cargo bay has a 2,862mm floor length and capacious load volume of 6.1m3, a figure that rises to 6.6m3 when the innovative Moduwork system is factored in.
Moduwork entails an opening trapdoor in the lower left of the steel bulkhead enabling carriage of lengths of pipe or timber of up to four metres long. The outboard passenger seat squab pivots upwards and is retained in a vertical position to facilitate the extra space.
The mid-spec Expert 150 features a 150hp (110kW) and 370Nm version of the 2.0 litre engine also endowing it with strong low-end performance, though not on quite the same scale as the 180.
While riding on the same 3,275mm wheelbase as the 180, the 150 Standard body version has a shorter rear overhang giving it an overall length of 4,959mm and a cargo floor length of 2,512mm, some 350mm less than the Long body with which it’s also optionally available. Its load volume of 5.3m3 rises to 5.8m3 when the Moduwork system is taken into account.
All versions have an overall height of just under two metres and can fit a pallet of up to 1,397mm in height. Standard ground clearance is 150mm with the option of raised suspension which increases ground clearance to 175mm.
The 150 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission while the six-speed automatic is a $2,500 option. The manual Standard body 150 costs $39,990, rising to $44,190 for the automatic Long body iteration.
The baby of the bunch is the price leading manual-only 115 which starts from $36,490 and features a 1.6 litre turbo diesel engine turning out 115hp (85kW) and 300Nm of torque.
Riding on a shorter wheelbase of 2,925mm and with overall length of 4,609mm, this version has the Compact body with cargo floor length and load volume of 2,162mm and 4.6m3 (5.1m3 with Moduwork) respectively.
All versions can carry three people restrained by lap/sash seatbelts, although the narrow nature of the middle seat makes it eminently more suitable for a child than a big burly bloke. The automatic transmission selector is a rotary switch on the dash which allows for easy across-cab movement. The handbrake is located on the floor between the seats.
Other standard features include auto emergency braking, a seven-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera, auto lights and wipers, parking sensors front and rear, blind spot monitoring, front and side airbags and active cruise control.
There’s also a plethora of storage receptacles within the dash and door trims, along with a number of strategically positioned cup holders, while the centre seat squab pivots upwards to reveal a handy insulated storage box.
For our test run a 1,250kg pallet of hardwood was forked into position directly over the rear wheels, with the 1,258mm width between the wheel arches proving ample for the Chep pallet. The rear barn doors open 180 degrees but don’t have a positive locking device to hold them in this position. This proved a tad awkward on the windy day during loading as it required a person on each side to hold the doors fully open.
A total of eight tie-down points bolted to the cargo floor perimeter made lashing the load a breeze.
The Expert 180’s coil sprung rear suspension handled the load with aplomb, remaining compliant on relatively smooth road surfaces while the beefy rubber buffers took over on the bumpier sections. Performance was impressive uphill and down dale with the prodigious torque output making light work of the considerable load. The auto transmission intuitively downchanges on descents to provide engine braking.
The only issue we encountered with the heavy load concentrated at the rear of the van was maintaining traction in certain situations due to the van’s front wheel drive configuration. During the test we found it necessary to feather the accelerator when starting off on hills in order to avoid wheelspin. This would also be necessary when hauling a heavy trailer. Speaking of which, the Expert 180 is rated to tow a braked trailer weighing 2.2 tonnes.
Another impressive aspect was the fuel economy which according to the dash display averaged 7.3km/litre over a 400km mix of motorway and suburban driving. around half of which was at maximum load capacity.
A generous five-year/200,000km warranty and 12-month/20,000km service intervals with the availability of five-year capped price servicing plans is the icing on the cake.
The five-year plan for the 150 and 180 models costs $2,982 while the 115 plan is slightly less at $2,868. These costs are reduced by 10 per cent to $2,684 and $2,581 respectively if the full cost is paid upfront.
Taking into account the competitive purchase and servicing prices and the all-round capabilities of the vehicle in hauling a decent load while using minimal fuel, Peugeot’s new Expert extends a compelling case in the modern van world.