Not really the traditional market for the panel van, South Africa is nonetheless seeing a slow and steady influx of these models. We assess the bakkie-challenging potential of the Peugeot Partner.
To carry anything under a tonne, South Africans love a bakkie. Peugeot’s Partner has been challenging the local market for some time, and the company quietly introduced its updated Partner range of panel vans early this year, adding this 66 kW 1,6-litre petrol engine to accompany the existing 78 kW/142 Nm petrol and 66 kW/215 Nm diesel. The newcomer also sports the company’s new family face, bringing the Partner in line with other models in the Peugeot range.
Although the new identity equates to only a slight facelift, it suits the van well. Peugeot’s new corporate emblem and logo are flanked by a redesigned bumper, grille and headlights. The rest of the van is largely unchanged.
On the inside, drivers will find a work-focussed interior with features designed to ease the daily grind. A plethora of storage spaces abound; in addition to the usual overhead shelf, there is a nifty cubby on top of the dashboard ahead of the driver and an interesting storage compartment with a sliding cover between the seats. The door pockets are interestingly designed as well – Peugeot going for two small pockets instead of the traditional single long one.
Another nice feature is that the passenger seat can easily be folded flat to become a “work-bench-on-the-fly”.
As far as the driving experience is concerned, the Partner’s small dimensions, electronically assisted power steering and wide door mirrors allow easy manoeuvrability. The 1,6-litre petrol engine, as fitted to our test unit, produces 66 kW at 6 000 r/min and 132 Nm at a low 2 500 r/min. It revs freely but pulls as expected from a small- capacity petrol engine. Peugeot claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 8,4 l/100 km and tailpipe emissions of 198 g/km. The van’s five-speed gearbox proved slick and solid and the brakes sharp (even a bit too sharp) and powerful.
With a load capacity of 3,3 m3 and a payload of 850 kg (the Gross Vehicle Mass is 2 195 kg), the Partner proved what it was worth when we ferried prizes between the office and the Randpark Golf Club for the Edutrans Golf Day. (See our report in the March issue of FOCUS.) Filled to the brim, loading and unloading of the mix of prizes – some large and bulky, others small and delicate – was aided by the two rear doors (that open to 90° or 180°) and left-hand side sliding door. There are also six tie-down hooks on the floor of the load area.
Safety features are numerous. The van is equipped with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) as well as a driver and passenger airbag. Aiding in security, the load area is independently locked and unlocked and all doors lock on pull-off. All models are fitted standard with central locking, key operated on those without factory-fitted air-conditioning. There are separate buttons on the dashboard to lock and unlock the passenger and load compartments.
A full-size spare wheel is provided and standard features include electrically adjustable windows, mirrors and headlights. Otherwise, our test vehicle was fitted with an R8 250 optional aftermarket air-conditioning system, which proved effective.
The Peugeot Partner 1,6 petrol is offered with a three-year/100 000 km warranty and five-year/100 000 km service plan. For the duration of the warranty period, Peugeot also offers Peugeot Assistance which includes roadside assistance, vehicle recovery and free 24-hour vehicle hire or hotel accommodation in the event of a breakdown.
At R171 000, we feel the partner is certainly worth a look if you’re in the market for a handsome one-tonne load-lugger where a canopy just won’t do.