BAD WEATHER means bad business and if thoughts of a savage winter are causing you consternation, then you may yearn for a 4x4. Trouble is, all-wheel-drive is mainly the preserve of pick-ups rather than panel vans, especially small ones. Peugeot, though, has come up with an answer in the shape of its ATV range.
All Terrain Vehicle, or “ATV with Grip Control” to give it its full title, is an option across the French company’s Partner and Expert van ranges costing on average less than £800 extra. It’s not four-wheel drive in the strictest sense but, rather, a clever adaption of the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes and traction control systems to create an “all-wheel drive” effect.
Other alterations over the standard vans include added ground clearance, special mud and snow tyres, under-engine protection enabling the van to go off-road and, sensibly, robust steel road wheels.
Using the ATV system is simplicity itself. There’s just a simple rotary dial on the dash where the driver can select normal driving modes or three dedicated set ups to counter mud, snow and sand.
Three ATV models are available, two being Partners. The cheapest is the standard SL1 which means standard spec and normal body length. This costs £13,615, with the harder core Professional alternative ticketed at £14,400, There’s just the one choice in the larger Expert range, an £18,170 van with standard length and roof height, but more choices could be offered if the ATV idea proves popular.
We had a Partner to test and to drive. The ATV model is almost identical to a standard version and, if anything, the added ride height makes it slightly more comfortable. Because there’s no 4x4 transmission, performance and refinement remains unchanged. The HDi diesel used is one of the best in its class, giving the Peugeot good pulling power and more than ample pep from its 90bhp, 158lbft engine.
It’s a measure of how big “small” vans are these days when designers can now squeeze in three-abreast seating although its worth in the Partner is debatable owing to a floor-mounted gear lever that results in virtually no legroom for the centre-seat passenger. It works fine on the bigger Expert, thanks to a dash-located stick shift which also provides a “walk-through” cab.
Costing a not unreasonable £600 more than the normal Partner it’s based upon, the ATV sounds ideal for those whose work takes them to rural areas where traction can be found wanting.
OK, so it’s not a Land Rover and nor does it pretend to be one, but this Peugeot may be just the job to keep you mobile earning money and keeping your clients serviced. It certainly dealt with the muddy fields we subjected the vehicle to ably enough. The price difference would largely be nullified by added residual values come resale time – assuming you’d want to part with such a useful go-anywhere van.
VAN Peugeot Partner SL1 1.6 HDi ATV
WARRANTY 3 yrs/100,000 miles
LOAD L 1,800mm W (max) 1,500mm H 1,250 mm
CO2 EMISSIONS 138g/km