AS IN other walks of life, size also matters when talking vans. Indeed is there such a thing as a “small” van these days?
Take the Peugeot Bipper as an example. At first glance it appears too tiny to be of much use to many operators, but in fact it offers double the carrying capacity of the current 207 van – yet Bipper is hardly any larger but is a lot more useful.
Bipper is the latest Peugeot to benefit from shared commercial and MPV designs with Citroen (owned by Peugeot since 1974) and Fiat, an alliance which spans three decades. Where the French pair differ from the Italian van is in detail styling and the diesel engine, but Peugeot and Citroen now also uses the Fiat unit in conjunction with their own.
Of the two, the Fiat Fiorino’s is slightly more muscular but there’s little in it in real-world driving and the French 70bhp CtD 1.4 is a brisk performer that’s both clean and green (just 119g/km CO2 with more than 50mpg on the cards) and hard working under load. The alternative 75bhp 1.4 petrol unit has its merits for some operators, even if it kicks out some 40 per cent less pulling torque.
The Fiat diesel comes with an optional stop/start facility to further reduce town emissions. It’s worth bearing in mind that the Peugeot diesel is Euro 4, while the Fiat’s 1.3 is the latest Euro 5 design plus it boasts a better payload of 660kg against 590kg.
Apart from looking extremely smart in all colours (and the stout bumper mouldings should help to keep the vehicle that way), the Bipper is space-efficient and practical. The load area is free from intrusions and if you opt for the fold-flat passenger seat, you gain almost a metre of added space, boosting the volume rating from 2.5 to 2.8m3. The load deck is just 53cm off the ground. There’s also the choice of single or twin sliding side doors to add to the handy asymmetrical split rear ones.
Only the base S model lacks them and it’s a £264 extra, with the twin-door option costing £528. Not cheap, but not only are they highly useful when delivering in town, but they also aid resale value.
For those intending to use their van for work, rest and play, the Bipper makes a fine choice. Whatever model you choose power steering, anti-lock brakes and crisp, secure front-wheel drive handling with a comfortable ride come as standard.
As workings go, it’s one of the most stylish and well finished, while the interior is as civilised as the 207 even if not as inviting.
But the massive front screen and proper van-sized mirrors make the Bipper as easy to drive as that supermini. Prices undercut the admittedly more car-like 207 van by some £500 and it’s much more usable.
Worthwhile options include the Multi Flex fold-flat passenger seat (£84), although a passenger air bag can’t be specified, a choice of tougher bulkheads (£108) and the Plus pack, which for £432 throws in remote central locking with deadlocks plus electric windows and powered mirrors to make it feel just like a car.
This pack, incidentally, is standard on the SE and Professional trim levels so it’s false economy to buy the basic S to spec up. Once you add on the side-door option you’re well on the way to the Professional’s price anyway, yet lack desirables such as air con and Bluetooth, which aid resale value as well as make 9-5 van driving much more agreeable.
If that’s too much, try a used example for around £5,000 – a small price for such a robust and reliable “little big” van.
CAR Peugeot Bipper HDi 70 Class II Professional
LOAD (l,w,h) 1,523mm x 1,663mm x 527mm
CO2 EMISSIONS 119g/km
MPG 55 combined
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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