- Willing diesel and clever auto
- Rides and handles better than some cars
- Good equipment/value ratio
- Too many turns lock to lock
- Could do with more horses when fully laden
- Interior could do with more storage
French cars are known to be emotional purchases that pluck on your heart strings rather than being the most pragmatic or rational choice. That stigma proves problematic for light commercial vehicles like the 2021 Peugeot Expert medium-sized van. Space, reliability and low running costs sit much higher on the priority list for van buyers than stylish design, technology or creature comforts.
Does the Peugeot Expert deliver enough sensibilities without losing some of the quintessential flair we expect of a Peugeot? Let’s find out.
Price & Specs: 8/10
While the standard 2021 Peugeot Expert 150 Standard kicks off at $39,990 plus on-road costs, our test car swapped out the six-speed manual for an eight-speed automatic transmission for an additional $2,500 – bringing the total cost to $42,490 before on roads. Another $1,700 will also grant you with a long-bodied Expert should you need the space. All models utilise a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine.
Standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels, front and rear fog lights, remote central locking, automatic halogen headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-folding exterior mirrors, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cloth upholstery, rubber cabin floors, manual air conditioning with charcoal filter, and power windows.
Safety is covered with front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, four airbags, a metal bulkhead with window, cruise control with a speed limiter, speed sign recognition, forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention detection and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
The Volkswagen Transport TDI250 offers two more airbags, rear cross-traffic alert, mud flaps, heated exterior mirrors and a heat insulated windscreen over the Expert but misses out on front parking sensors, front fog lights, speed sign recognition, a bulkhead with window, a side sliding door and a third seat. The Volkswagen may undercut the Peugeot at just $38,990 when equipped with a manual, but the additional kit in the Peugeot helps to justify the cost and makes it a more comfortable and practical workhorse.
|2021 Peugeot Expert 150 HDI Standard Automatic|
|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|
Performance & Economy: 8/10
The Peugeot Expert if offered with two engines in Australia. They’re both 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel four cylinder with the Standard model making do with 110kW/370Nm. The Long variant can be optioned with a 130kW/400Nm to cope with the extra load. While available with a six-speed manual, our test car came equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission.
Despite the detuned outputs, the Standard gets about its business with reasonable zest. The engine and transmission pairing works really well to make the Expert an effortless and relaxing everyday workhorse as the traditional nature of the auto effectively eliminates any clunkiness you’d expect of a dual-clutch automatic as found in some rivals. Even the stop/start system is quick and intelligent in its operation, never being caught out from fast-changing conditions in urban areas.
Once up to speed, the eight-speed auto impresses even further in the way it keeps the engine on the boil. The 2.0-litre unit is by no means anaemic by class standards, but performance can feel blunted while carrying a heavy load in the back. This is where the auto earns its keep by utilising all eight cogs to help the diesel to stay at the meatiest end of the torque band at 2,000rpm. Where the manual punches back is by allowing a maximum payload of 1,478kg to the auto’s 1,081kg.
Fuel consumption is officially listed as 6.4L/100km and we achieved an average of 7.3L/100km in our time with the Expert. It is worth noting that while we did a few fully-laden trips, we also spent some time unladen so that figure will likely increase if you spend 90% of the time fully laden. Competitors like the Volkswagen Transporter is 29kW/120Nm down on the punchier Peugeot and uses more fuel as a result of having to work harder more of the time so it’s another win for the underdog.
Ride & Handling: 8.5/10
When it comes to ride and handling, the 2021 Peugeot Expert doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because it’s a van. After all, those driving a commercial van will likely be spending hours behind the wheel at a time. For those who choose the Expert will be pleasantly surprised that it feels very car-like and even very Peugeot to drive.
No, there’s no tiny steering wheel like in its passenger car range and yes the wheel does have more locks than in a modern passenger car but, other than those two anomalies, it feels like its smaller stablemates. The controls are all light and easy to use around town and there’s a degree of resolution that some passenger cars lack. The Peugeot Expert has a turning circle of 12.4 metres – which is not bad for its size but you will need to do a lot of arm twirling in the case of a three-point turn.
The suspension feels supple and settled regardless of the load in the back and there’s none of the bouncy, pogo-natured discomfort you might associate with vans of old. The metal and glass bulkhead also controls the amount of noise entering the cabin from the cargo area, helping it to feel decidedly refined at motorway speeds. Filling up the cargo bay only makes the Expert feel even more tied down.
The one letdown is that the steering can feel a little void of feedback at higher speeds and can you feeling less confident and in control than something with a bit more heft – something a Volkswagen Transporter does better at higher speeds.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
The 2021 Peugeot Expert’s interior, like any van in this category, trades superficial plushness for practical ergonomics and easy of use. The dash materials are hard but hard wearing and the design is plain but without feeling cheap. The floors are covered in plastic for easy cleaning and there’s oodles of storage littered about the place.
Straight ahead is a large, conventional steering wheel covered in plastic and with big buttons that are clearly marked. The gauges are also conventional in their look and feel with a small but neat digital screen in between the dials for readouts like your digital speedo, tyre pressure and other useful trip computer information. You even get paddles should you decide to change gears yourself.
The centre console houses what is the one quirky element of the cabin – a rotary gear selector. It might not be as effortlessly easy a your typical PRND selector, but once you get used to it it becomes second nature and makes manoeuvring the sizeable van quick and easy. While the Peugeot’s selector isn’t the prettiest we’ve seen, it is easier to use than some others thanks to the physical switch for the selector, rather than a click to the left or right. Other, more expensive manufacturers could learn a thing or two from Peugeot’s solution.
Moving up the centre stack leads you to the air conditioning and the 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen above that. Both are clear and easy to use thanks again to big, physical switches. It’s nice to see Peugeot swap out the glamorous piano-like hot keys for regular buttons to in the quest for everyday easy of use.
Storage is dealt with via all the usual nooks and crannies you expect from van – including across the top of the dashboard, a hidden section under the passengers seats that can passthrough to behind the bulkhead, and big door pockets. In place of a traditional lidded glovebox is an odd, small open storage nook (no doubt because a real glovebox is being used for LHD fuses) and the fold-down arrest misses out on clever touches like the clipboard we saw in the Renault Trafic. It also doesn’t fold down the whole seat, meaning you can’t drop the middle headrest for improved rearward visibility.
The 2021 Peugeot Expert ‘Standard’ measures in at 4959mm long, 2204mm wide, and 1935mm tall. The ‘Long’ body extends the length to 5309mm, but the 3725mm wheelbase and 12.4m turning circle is shared across the range. The load bay is 1258mm wide between the arches and 2512mm long in the Standard and 2862mm long in the, erm, Long. That can be extended to a maximum length of 3674mm (Standard) or 4024mm (Long) if you take into account the bulkhead flap. Volume translates to 5.3 cubic metres of load in the Standard and 6.1 cubic metres in the Long. The rear doors are glazed and open to 180º and the Peugeot offers two sliding doors for easy kerbside access regardless of which way you park. The Expert can also carry three people abreast where some rivals can only carry two.
The cargo area is a highlight for the Expert, where its standard barn doors and side sliding doors on both sides makes the base Volkswagen Transporter feel a bit TDI250 a bit restricted. Loading in wide items are easy as the barn doors swing wide enough (180º) to move completely out of the way. Objects up to 1.25 metres are swallowed with ease and the 3.674 mm, including the bulkhead flap, total length easily eclipses the Transporter’s maximum length. The standard bulkhead also keeps the cabin quiet, particularly handy at eliminating the boomy nature of an empty van.
Running Costs & Warranty: 7/10
The 2021 Peugeot Expert gets the same five-year warranty as its passenger car compatriots but it it limited to 200,000km versus the rest of the range’s unlimited kilometres. Competitors like the Volkswagen Transporter have also moved to unlimited kilometre warranties, so it’s worth keeping in mind if you plan to keep the van beyond five years or 200,00km. At least Peugeot scores back some points with five years of roadside assistance versus the German manufacturer’s 12 months of total coverage.
Servicing the Peugeot comes every year or 20,000km, which beats bringing it in every 10,000 or 15,000km like some rivals. Over that period, the Expert will set you back a substantial $3,049 or an average of $609.80 per service over the first five years. The Volkswagen does a bit better at $2,942 over five years, but those who travel more than 15,000km per year might want to get their calculator and double check if it’ll still bette the Peugeot with its more regular visits.
2021 Peugeot Expert DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.9/10
The 2021 Peugeot Expert is a charming van that offers a lot for those who want their workhorse to be more than an A-to-B appliance. It’s roomy, comfortable, good to drive and (most importantly) one of the more practical offerings in the class.
Even better for buyers is that the Expert range has just been updated for 2022 with more choice, more equipment and even a limited edition Sport model. Those who are willing to try something a bit different will be rewarded with a van that drives better than many passenger cars and offers excellent value for money.