With a refreshed image and a range of larger yet more efficient diesel engines, Peugeot's Partner Tepee is more appealing that ever - in a growing market segment.
Model Tested: Peugeot Partner Tepee
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door compact MPV
CO2 emissions: 115g/km (Band A4, €200 per annum)
Combined economy: 64.2mpg (4.4 litres/100km)
Top speed: 173km/h
0-100km/h: 11.4 seconds
Power: 120hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 300Nm at 1,750rpm
Boot space: 675- to 3,000 litres
EuroNCAP rating: 3-star; adult 56%; child 74%; pedestrian 63%; safety assist 48%
In the metal 4/5
Even though most customers, not to mention company PRs, will tell you that vehicles in this MPV segment are more about function than form, it is good to see that Peugeot hasn't neglected the latter. The updated face of the Partner line-up is in line with the rest of the current Peugeot range and has a more purposeful and wider look thanks to a new chrome grille bearing the Peugeot name inset along its top. The front bumper is more stylised while new fog lamp sections, which incorporate LED daytime running lights, sandwich a lower grille detailed with an aluminium-look bottom section.
The Partner Tepee is tall too, meaning access to the cabin couldn't be easier. Its high roof naturally makes it feel spacious while the vast windscreen affords the driver a very generous field of vision. Up front, the redesigned dashboard features the same seven-inch colour touchscreen that features in both the Peugeot 208 and 308 and helps to present a clear, clutter-free layout. There's still a utilitarian vibe from the styling of it, which is unsurprising given that the Tepee is a van derivative, but it all works well and suits the image of the car. Almost everywhere you look there is a storage bin of some kind and this extends to the rear.
The sliding doors on either side make access very easy, and that high roofline adds to its practical nature. As standard, the Tepee comes with individual seating for three in the rear, but there is the option to add two additional seats in a third row. For added practicality, these seats can be individually removed according to requirements. With all seats removed, it's effectively a van with a cargo volume of up to 3,000 litres.
One additional feature worth a mention is the Zenith sunroof. This consists of four individual tinted glass panels in the roof and a long centrally suspended panel that houses additional storage bins along with three air vents with its own controls for rear passengers. Behind the middle row, a large storage box with a 90-litre capacity can be accessed via two siding doors on the passenger side and can swing down and open from the boot side. The large, upward lifting boot door isn't too heavy considering its size and the very low floor height makes loading heavier items an easy feat.
Driving it 3.5/5
Peugeot will offer both 100- and 120hp versions of its latest 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine with the Partner Tepee, but it is the more powerful version tested here that we think is the better choice. Given that this car is likely to be driven regularly with a few passengers and luggage, the additional 20hp will come in handy. The more powerful engine also offers more torque with 300Nm available from 1,750rpm and, more importantly, a six-speed gearbox. It also emits only slightly more CO2 than the other engine.
On the road, the lofty Partner Tepee lets some of its van roots show through, but its diesel engine is quite refined. The extra torque helps it around town and when up to speed it cruises along comfortably. Given its boxy nature there isn't quite as much road noise reverberating around the empty cabin as you might expect. Steering doesn't come quite as direct as a Volkswagen Caddy Life's, but the ride is more softly damped in comparison to the German people carrier. Through the bends it can wallow a little but remember this isn't some low slung coupé and when driven accordingly it performs well. Around town, the steering weight gives no cause for complaint and the six-speed gearbox, despite having a slightly long throw, is well suited to the car.
As a further option, buyers can specify Peugeot's Grip Control system, which (according to Peugeot) adds almost the same off-road performance capability as an all-wheel drive system while driving only the front wheels. This All Terrain Pack adds more ground clearance through raised suspension, a more protective engine tray and fitment of mud and snow tyres - this has already appeared in other Peugeot models such as the 2008 and, if you're the more adventurous type, is a feature worth having.
What you get for your money 3.5/5
Pricing for the new Partner Tepee is still to be confirmed for the Irish market, but assuming it doesn't differ greatly from its existing price structure it should easy undercut its main rivals such as the Ford Tourneo Connect and Volkswagen Caddy Life. The Peugeot doesn't feel quite as solid or well put together as the Volkswagen, but buyers are saving a fair chunk of change.
All Partner Tepee models get cruise control and a speed limiter as standard while the step up to Active specification adds air conditioning. The Grip Control feature is an option but one worth getting as it could easily pay for itself during one bad winter. One point worth noting is the car's three-star EuroNCAP safety rating, which was tested just last year. It scored poorly in the adult occupant protection and safety assist sections.
Fiat Doblo: also recently updated, the quirky Fiat can seat up to seven, but has less appealing engines.
Ford Tourneo Connect: one of the most dynamic looking in the segment, has plenty of space, can seat up to seven and has good engines.
Volkswagen Caddy Life: the best to drive in the segment but is far from the cheapest to buy.
Peugeot's new Partner Tepee is, overall, a versatile and reasonably compact car. Its new diesel engines are more refined than you would expect and with so much versatility on offer this comes as a bonus to what is otherwise a good package.