Peugeot Partner overview
The Peugeot Partner is the smallest van for sale in the French company’s commercial vehicle line-up. However, while it’s small, it contains a lot of really useful features that means it’s one of the best small vans that you can buy. It borrows technology from Peugeot’s passenger cars, so that means it can be fitted out with some useful safety features and other equipment, while payloads of up to one tonne mean it’s a versatile machine.
It comes in Standard and Long lengths, while the latter also has a Crew Cab option with a second row of seats in the back. All Partner vans have asymmetric barn doors at the rear that can open to 180 degrees and lock at 90 degrees. The Standard van has a single sliding side door in base trim, but all other versions have twin sliding doors.
Power comes from Peugeot’s latest BlueHDi 1.5-litre diesel, which is available in 75 and 100 guises in Ireland - there’s also a BlueHDi 130 diesel available in other markets. Both engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox, but other markets have the option of a six-speed manual, while the more powerful 130 engine can also be had with an eight-speed automatic where it’s offered.
Every version of the Peugeot Partner is front-wheel drive, but an optional Worksite Pack adds Grip Control switchable traction control, all-weather tyres and a slightly raised ride height for improved off-road ability.
Peugeot Partner range
The line-up kicks off with Access trim, which includes equipment such as steel wheels, black plastic bumpers, central locking, stability control, a steel bulkhead, driver and passenger airbags, electric windows and door mirrors (which are also heated), Bluetooth, a USB socket, 12-volt socket and overhead storage.
Move to Active trim and you also get cruise control with speed limiter, an electric parking brake and Peugeot’s Multiflex twin passenger seat that folds to reveal a through loading bulkhead for long items. This trim is also standard on the five-seat Partner Crew Cab and, as well as a rear bench, this model adds windows to the sliding doors. Active Plus adds air conditioning and front fog lights to the Partner van.
At the top of the range the Peugeot Partner Professional models add wheel trims, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and steering wheel-mounted controls. Finally, Professional Plus models add a permanent rear camera instead of a rear-view mirror.
All models can be upgraded with options from higher-spec versions, plus there’s kit available such as windows for the cargo area, navigation, a rear camera with blind spot side camera, keyless entry, climate control, alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, lane assist, tiredness alert and an overload indicator that can warn you if you have exceeded the van’s maximum payload weight.
Peugeot Partner interior
The Partner’s cabin features Peugeot’s i-Cockpit dashboard design, with high-set dials and a small steering wheel. It’s a layout that works better here than in some Peugeots, but not everybody can get along with it, so we’d recommend that you try it before you buy. Otherwise, the Peugeot’s cab is a nice place to be. The seats are comfortable, while build quality is good. There’s not much shoulder room if you’re travelling three-up in the cab, but that’s the same issue with all vans in this class.
In the back, access is easy through the side and rear doors. The through-loading bulkhead is a useful feature that helps you load longer items. Simply fold the twin front passenger seat flat to the floor, open the steel door in the bulkhead and you can load long items such as planks and pipes. A vinyl bag can be attached so that loads don’t damage the interior.
The Crew Cab is a better choice for passengers. The rear bench folds flat in a 60:40 split, giving you the option of two, four or five-seat layouts. The bulkhead features a steel door and both the rear bench and front passenger seat fold flat.
Peugeot Partner driving experience
The low-powered diesels used in the Partner need to be worked hard to make the most of them, so refinement takes a bit of a hit. They’re not too harsh, but other vans are quieter. It’s less of an issue when you’re cruising, while wind and road noise are hushed at speed. The five-speed gearbox is a bit vague, although the shift is fine once you’re in tune with it. One point to look for is rearward visibility. The Partner’s wing mirrors aren’t quite wide enough to give you a clear view behind, leaving blind spots on either side that will require you to do an over-the-shoulder check if you’re changing lanes.
Peugeot Partner alternatives
If the BlueHDi 130 engine or an auto gearbox appeals, or you can’t get along with the Peugeot’s high-set dials and small steering wheel, then the Citroen Berlingo and Opel Combo Cargo - which are mechanically identical to the Partner - are available. Only the Opel comes as a Crew Van like the Partner, but otherwise trim and equipment options are largely the same between all three.
Another option is the Toyota Proace City, which is also mechanically identical, but has a slightly more limited line-up. In reality, all four vans are the best in the class, and we wouldn’t blame you if your final choice came down to which dealer is closest.
Beyond these four, your other options include the Ford Transit Connect and smaller Transit Courier, plus the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo. All these vans offer a car-like drive and equipment, but can’t quite match the rivals mentioned above for comfort or refinement. Another option is the Fiat Doblo Cargo, which is older than the Peugeot, but offers competitive payload weights, as well as the option of the Work Up pick-up. The Renault Kangoo and Mercedes Citan share technology, but both are feeling their age when compared with the Peugeot and are due to be replaced in 2022.
Peugeot Partner summary
Overall, the Peugeot Partner is a great option if you need a small van with some neat pieces of tech, as long as you can get along with the dashboard layout. The Crew Cab is an intriguing choice for those wanting a van that can carry kit and passengers, but while the low-powered diesels are efficient, you might find them lacking in pulling power.