Users also get clever packaging, a three-way choice of body lengths and some versatile loading options. It’s a very complete proposition.
This Expert’s ‘EMP2’ family car platform has considerably improved its driving dynamics, the mid-sized LCV now able to ride over poor road surfaces with a calm and composure that most rivals can’t match. Helping in this regard is a suspension design using adaptive shock absorbers that provide excellent control, no matter how much weight is on-board. At higher speeds, you get some wind and road noise but through the bends, the handling is surprisingly stable and there’s plenty of grip. Another benefit of using a passenger car base lies in the way that the Expert feels more nimble and compact than most of its rivals when you’re threading through city streets or making your way along country lanes. Light steering and a relatively tight turning circle contribute here too.
Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of five BlueHDi diesel engines, with users choosing from a range of efficient 1. 6 or 2. 0-litre BlueHDi units. Go for the 1. 6 and there’s a choice of 95 or 115bhp outputs, the former with the option of ‘ETG6’ clutch-less transmission. We’d be tempted though, by the extra torque for the 2. 0-litre engines, all able to tow up to 2. 5-tonnes. The 120bhp unit , able to return up to 53. 3mpg on the combined cycle and up to 139g/km of CO2. There’s also a 150bhp variant and a flagship 180bhp model that must be ordered with ‘EAT6’ auto transmission.
It might not be over-stating things to suggest that the third generation Expert van is the first recognisably mid-sized model that Peugeot has ever delivered to the LCV market. In essence, previous generation versions never looked quite big enough for the role they were supposed to have been designed for, but the MK3 model is different. In place of its predecessor’s elongated nose, it gets a short, high bonnet and compact overhangs that provide for a more powerful streetside presence that feels properly substantial, with a rugged, workmanlike appeal.
Time to look at the cargo area in a little more detail, even the ‘Compact’ bodystyle offers 4. 6m3 of capacity and 2,162mm of floor length – enough to carry two fully loaded Europallets, which is pretty impressive given that in this form, the Expert would be only 4. 6m long. The ‘Standard’ bodyshape which has 5. 3m3 and 2,512mm of floor length, go for the top ‘Long’ bodystyle and you’re looking at 6. 1m3 and 2,862mm of floor length.
Don’t make your decision between the three bodyshapes until you’ve taken into account the potential extra capacity that can be freed up by a very clever extra feature that’s been incorporated into the third generation Expert design – the ‘Moduwork’ load-through bulkhead. It’s a standard inclusion provided you avoid entry-level trim and whichever bodystyle you choose, it can add a useful 1,162mm to the overall loading length and 0. 5m3 to the overall carriage capacity.
You might be familiar with the idea behind this from Ford, Vauxhall and Renault rivals to this model – that of providing an opening from the cargo bay so that longer items can be poked through. With those vans though, you simply get a small hatch in the bulkhead that’s really only large enough to enable you to poke through things like pipes. With the Peugeot’s ‘Moduwork’ set-up though, you can also fold the seat in the cab upwards so that the aperture created can be much bigger, so also enabling bulkier items to edge up into the cab space when necessary.
Spend as much time as we have looking at the mid-sized van segment and you quickly realise that different brands have priorities in different areas. Some products are good to drive. Others look efficient to run. Still others have a quality feel or offer clever equipment features. The problem is though, in finding an LCV design that ticks all these boxes. We reckon though, that the Expert gets closer to that goal than most other models we’ve come across in the sector.
Try it. If you’re in the market for a mid-sized van of this sort, we think it might surprise you.