Peugeot Partner Tepee Outdoor HDi

The Peugeot Tepee is our current favourite of the versatile budget MPV’s, can it keep top spot against the newcomer from Fiat?

Feeling your way into the conventional people carrier class from the van-based MPV market isn’t easy. Having one foot in the commercial camp makes for superb practicality, but it doesn’t lend anything to style, image or desirability.

However, Peugeot’s Partner Tepee has made inroads on the final point. Next to the Doblo, it looks well proportioned. The gaping mouth and high roofline usually stand out in traffic for all the wrong reasons, but the Fiat’s more ungainly shape shows the Pug in a more favourable light.

For the Doblo’s £16,785 price, you can buy a Tepee in chunky Outdoor spec with a punchy 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel, and still have £640 left for options. Take a seat inside, and it’s not long before you begin to wonder where the extra money goes in the Fiat.

As with its opponent, the Tepee’s cabin owes much to its conventional stablemates. The dash uses switchgear and dials common to many Peugeot and Citroen models, while the centre console contains the usual fussy, yet effective array of buttons.

The quality of the trim used throughout is consistently high; in the Doblo, the best materials are reserved for the dashboard only. Access to the rear is via a pair of practical sliding doors. And while the Tepee can’t match its rival’s leg, head and shoulder room, the cabin is a more pleasant place in which to spend time.

The smaller tailgate is a little easier to handle than the Fiat’s, but the trade-off is a reduced luggage area. There’s 675 litres of boot space, and the load bay is square and flat, although it lags behind the Doblo’s by 115 litres.

Where the Peugeot makes up ground is with its removable seats. You’ll need muscles or help from a friend to get them out, but if you want to put your Partner to work as a van, you can convert it into a two-seater.

So far so good, but can the Peugeot put its commercial roots behind it on the road?

It doesn’t take long at the wheel to realise that this is one incredibly capable people carrier. Jump on board the Tepee after the Doblo, and it instantly feels more like a conventional car in its responses.

Turn into a corner and you get greater confidence in its abilities, while the steering is more accurate. The snappy, dash-mounted gearlever also provides sharp, accurate shifts, while the supple suspension glides over broken surfaces with ease. Only the soft brake pedal lets the driving experience down.

The engine offers vastly superior performance. Although it’s mated to a five-speed box – the Doblo gets a six-speeder – which harms cruising refinement, the torquey unit is less likely to be caught off the boil. Anyone who writes off the Tepee before trying it is missing out. This is one seriously capable family car.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: The Partner Tepee has evolved the van-shaped MPV concept, and proven itself in past road tests and on our long-term fleet.