Expert assistance

Expert assistance

According to Peugeot’s marketing material, ‘every business needs an Expert’. Gary6 Squires climbs behind of the wheel of this workhorse van to check the veracity of the claim.

Since its launch in the mid-90s, the Expert has undergone a variety of facelifts to try and create a van that delivers in both the style and substance category. There’s no denying that there are physical similarities between this van and some of those produced by the likes of Citroen and Fiat, but I’m assured by the delivery driver that – once on the road – the differences are apparent.
First thoughts
Personally, I’m not a fan of this style of van. From the outside, there’s nothing really that makes them stand out from the crowd, but there’s no denying that they are well built enough to handle the rough and tumble of day-to-day jobs.
On top of that, they definitely offer plenty of storage space in the rear, and plenty of access to make it easy to get to everything in there.
On the road
One of the main draws of this van is that it comes with an auto/tiptronic gearbox, which is lovely and smooth. It makes such a difference driving around the streets of London and fighting the traffic in an automatic – especially one as smooth as this.
The 163bhp engine fitted in this van – together with the aforementioned smooth auto gearbox – meant it was very responsive. If you looking for a van with good performance and acceleration figures, then book a test drive of this van, it’s quite impressive to drive. Accelerating and overtaking are a breeze, and it never struggles when you ask for more power. The brakes were good too – both firm and controlled under foot when needed.
Going around corners, however, may not be this van’s strong point, but it certainly gets you to the corner a lot quicker than other vans. You just need to be patient going around the corner itself.
The steering was good with a good turning circle, and it felt solid at all times. Down twisting country lanes, it coped quite well. Not as good as some other vans but far from being the worst.
This van has the same problem as the others of a similar shape. Although the steering is light, the obstacle to parking is the front of the van – which I find difficult to judge. In my opinion, rear parking sensors are a must for anyone buying one of these vans.
In terms of the fuel economy, the on-board gauge was showing a combined fuel consumption in the low 30s although I did get it up to 36mpg on the motorway.
Inside story
The seats were quite comfortable with a range of different adjustments. I took this van on a 200 mile journey, and, overall, it was comfortable throughout – although additional lumber support would have been the icing on the cake.
A negative aspect, though, was the cab noise – I struggle to remember the last time I was in a van that was so noisy. I think, in part, this is due to the lack of a bulkhead. The road noise a low speed was a problem, which was obviously exacerbated at motorway speeds.

The controls in the cab were easy to use and fairly well laid out – with controls for the radio and the cruise control on stalks by the steering wheel. I should mention that, personally, I couldn’t get the cruise control to work mainly because I couldn’t see how the controls worked. It was positioned in such a way that it was obscured but the steering wheel.
The Expert came with electric windows as standard and air conditioning as an option.
The Peugeot Multimedia system is definitely worth a mention because it is very good. It’s easy to use and the Sat Nav gives very clear images and instructions – although it feels a bit on the slow side. The Bluetooth system paired instantly to my phone and, during phone calls, the reception was very clear and easy to hear, making it a great tool for business.
Storage space in the cab was good with a combination of door pockets, a lockable glove box, various other storage areas and an overhead shelf. Unfortunately, Peugeot appeared to have not taken  my hot drink habit into account by neglecting to include suitable cupholders.
Generally, the rear load space is acceptable and other than the lengths of pipe most materials will fit comfortable inside. The load space is easy to access via the range of doors available, and it has a low load height too, which makes life much easier when loading heavier items.
In terms of additional requirements, the Expert – like many vans of this style – would need a roof pipe storage system installed to store pipes securely and safely.
Overall impressions
Personally, I’d not choose this van because I don’t like the shape and there are just too many of them about that look the same – even though they are from a range of different manufacturers. Frankly, I find it difficult to see and judge the front of the van when I’m parking.
On the plus side – and it’s a big plus –the engine on the Expert is great at all speeds and the gearbox is so smooth that even driving in heavy traffic is a joy.
It’s a bit of a standard complaint with me, but I struggle to understand why there aren’t cup holders – especially when the model I tested was a two-seat cab version with plenty of room between those seats. Admittedly, there are cup holders in the door pockets, but they don’t work well for cups of coffee/tea.
My final issue was with the noise in the cab; I ‘d be keen to try one with a bulk head fitted to see if that makes much difference.
Overall, the Expert delivers well on most things, and I expect it would handle the daily grind of being a plumber’s/heating engineer’s van comfortably – if not spectacularly.