heycar editorial team
- Excellent payload
- Clever and useful tech
- Affordable to run
Not so great
- Small steering wheel won’t suit all shapes and sizes of drivers
- Mid-spec vans are expensive
- Very basic entry level model
On the inside
How much does it cost to run
Prices, versions and specification
"The Peugeot Partner does all the major things you want from a small van, and plenty of the minor things too."
It shares many of its crucial components with the Citroen Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo and Toyota Proace City – the four vans were developed alongside one another, although each puts a slight tweak on the formula.
The part that makes the Peugeot stand out from the others is its cabin – the van has the same iCockpit layout as many of the company’s passenger car range. This means it gets a smaller steering wheel and an information display that you view over the wheel rather than through it. It might not be for everyone, but enough passenger car buyers are happy with the setup for Peugeot to be confident enough to put it into its biggest selling van.
The Peugeot and its cohorts have moved the game on in the class in terms of practicality as you can get a Partner with a maximum payload of up to 1000kg, a loading bay as big as 4.4 cubic metres and there are several different models geared towards different needs.
The ‘Grip’ model, for example, provides a version that is geared towards tougher jobs such as building-site work. They get three front seats, ground clearance that is 30mm higher than standard and enhanced traction control to deal with the loose surfaces that often crop up around construction jobs or down rural tracks.
There is also a model aimed at those that will need to spend hours on end behind the wheel on the motorway. The Asphalt gets kit like upgraded soundproofing, parking sensors and touchscreen navigation.
The S model keeps costs down but it does also keep equipment levels low. There’s no air conditioning, for example, or an adjustable driver’s seat.
Whichever model you go for, the Partner is an easy van to drive. The large windscreen, comfortable suspension and sharp steering make it a relaxing and calm vehicle to be in, particularly around town. That unconventional, small steering wheel is innovative, and plenty will get on just fine with it, but others might find it obscures the view of the dashboard readings. The other three models with which the Partner shares its base all have more standard setups.
You can choose from three diesel engines or a petrol engine in the Partner, with the diesels all different takes on the same 1.5-litre unit. They range in power from 75PS to 130PS with a 100PS model in between. The petrol is a 110PS 1.2-litre engine. Fuel economy is decent all round, with even the petrol offering up to 45mpg while the diesels are capable of up to 55mpg.
There are some clever pieces of tech available in the Partner, which really set it apart from the likes of the Ford Transit Connect and Volkswagen Caddy. A rear-view camera is neat, while the overload sensor on the Grip is an ingenious piece of kit that will help you make the most of the van’s carrying capacity.
Comfort and design
"The biggest downside to the Peugeot Partner’s cabin is also its main selling point – the so-called iCockpit."
This comprises a small steering wheel that you have to position so you look at the dashboard instruments over the top of it, rather than looking through the wheel.
This will work fine for some, but some drivers will find that they have to put the wheel lower than they would like for optimum comfort. With some tweaking you should be able to get comfy, though. The small steering wheel is a bonus, as it feels compact and chunky in your hands.
The rest of the cabin is less outlandish. The S model only gets basic seat adjustment but as soon as you step up a trim level you can play around with the height and lumbar support too. The footwell has plenty of room and it’s easy to find a driving position that will keep you comfortable on long drives.
The rest of the cabin is logically laid out, too, with the gear lever set slightly higher up to allow the middle passenger some legroom. It’s still easily reached, though. All models bar the basic one get an electronic parking brake, which sits next to the gear lever and reduces the need to awkward reaching down between the seats if you are parking up regularly.
Handling and ride quality
"The Peugeot Partner is an easy van to drive, with comfortable handling and suspension, which makes it relaxing."
This slight bias towards comfort means it is not as sharp as the Ford Transit Connect, but the supple suspension offers more on the motorway as it absorbs bumps to keep things comfy on longer trips.
Despite this edge of comfort to the suspension, the Partner keeps everything settled around corners, too, which is handy given you could end up carrying some hefty loads with such a big payload on offer.
That said, the heavy-duty version – the one capable of taking up to 1000kg – feels less comfortable on rougher roads, so it’s better off going for the smaller wheels if you need that particular version.
The steering is light at lower speeds, lighter than vans have been in the past, which makes it easy to thread in and out of tighter gaps around town, too. The nippy feeling is enhanced by the smaller steering wheel – your hands don’t have to move quite as far as they would if they were on a much bigger wheel. It remains stable at higher speeds, though, and there is enough resistance to ensure you don’t drift out of your lane.
MPG and fuel costs
"The lowest powered engine in the Partner isn’t necessarily the most efficient as it’s the 100PS diesel that boasts the best claimed fuel economy with an official figure of up to 55mpg."
The lower powered diesel is the next most efficient, followed by the 130PS but with so little between them there is little to choose. The 130PS still has an official figure of up to 52mpg so fuel economy is no reason to pick one model over the other. Even the petrols boast an impressive official efficiency rating, with up to 44mpg theoretically possible.
How much should you be paying for a used Peugeot Partner?
"There should be some good deals around on the Peugeot Partner thanks to the early models coming with the short-lived 1.6-litre diesel models."
The 1.5-litre models will attract a bit more of a premium over these, while the desirable eight-speed gearbox will bump the value up a bit more again.
It is priced to be comparable with the Citroen Berlingo, Toyota Proace City and Vauxhall Combo Cargo so expect all four to hold their value in a similar manner on the used market too.
Is the Peugeot Partner right for you?
The Peugeot Partner is a truly car-like small van, with a driving experience and cabin that is comfortable and practical in equal measure. It also offers a supremely practical carrying ability, with a huge payload and several really useful features that allow you to carry long and heavy items in the way that small vans of the past have not been able to.
It’s a perfect first van for those that are starting a business and need a commercial vehicle for the first time, as it is so easy to drive. However, it is also a consummate professional, with a version that will take an almighty battering on rougher sites. If you’re after a small van that can take on almost any type of job then this is what the Partner offers.
What's the best Peugeot Partner model/engine to choose?
For the vast majority of customers, the Professional trim will be the one that makes the most sense. The S is too sparsely equipped to be a comfortable all-round van, without kit like air conditioning even. Professional adds this, cruise control, rear parking sensors and the Multi-Flex folding passenger seat that extends the loading length. It also brings the colour touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, allowing you to stream satellite navigation from your phone if you have it.
The best engine for long-distance drivers is the 130PS diesel, with smooth acceleration and the attractive 1000kg payload.
What other cars are similar to the Peugeot Partner?
The Peugeot Partner’s biggest rivals are the vans with which it shares a platform – the Citroen Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo and Toyota Proace City. There is little to choose between them, with the visual elements the biggest differentiator. The others will appeal more if you are not so keen on the Peugeot’s smaller steering wheel, while the Toyota has a longer warranty.
If you are after something with a little more driving excitement then the Ford Transit Connect is worth looking at, although it is only available as a two-seater. The Volkswagen Caddy is another car-like van in terms of its driving experience, with a new model on its way in 2020.
Quality and finish
The fit and finish on all the Partner models feels solid and like it will take all kinds of battering. There is little flex on the panels and the gaps are kept to a minimum in areas such as by the glove box and doors. The biggest bit missing on the basic trims is the screen, which doesn’t appear on the S or the Grip model, which makes the dash look a little plain in both cases.
As you move up the range there are some additional stylistic flourishes, but none that totally change the atmosphere of the van. The range-topping Asphalt gets a hard plastic floor, but this is more for protection than aesthetics. The LED lights in the loading bay of the Grip model add an extra touch of usability and quality, too.
Higher up models get a few extra flourishes on the gear lever and steering wheel, but a leather steering wheel is never standard at any point of the range, and remains an optional extra. It’s unlikely many will go out of their way to tick that box as the standard wheel feels good and as though it will take many miles of wear.
The infotainment screen is first offered on the mid-level trim, but only the more road-biased Professional. It is an eight-inch touchscreen that runs the same system as every other van with which the Partner shares its many components.
The screen looks nice and the graphics are clear and attractive, but the system isn’t as easy to use as the ones fitted in modern Volkswagen vans for example. It gets a row of shortcut ‘buttons’ either side of the screen, but they are part of the touchscreen rather than physical buttons that you can feel for on the move, which means you have to take your eyes off the road at times to be truly accurate.
It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android auto, too, which pairs simply via a cable – there is no wireless connection as yet, which models like the Volkswagen Transporter offer.
On top-spec trims there is a second clever screen, which sits in the place of a rear-view mirror and provides a live camera feed of what is happening behind the van. It’s not as crystal clear as a mirror, but it is far more reassuring for van newcomers who aren’t comfortable with just relying on the door mirrors.
Space and practicality
The basic version of the Partner comes with just the two seats, which provides a good amount of room for both occupants. However, step up to anything beyond the simplest model and you get a passenger bench seat that can take up to three adults.
That middle seat is not one you would want to rely on as a full-time option, however, as it is not as big as the other two and is somewhat hampered when it comes to legroom. It’s narrower than the two main seats and you have to angle your legs away from the driver to make sure they don’t bash you every time they change gear. Still, it is more than the two-seater-only Ford Transit Connect offers.
The other bonus that the bench seat brings is a real boost in practicality. The seat folds down and allows you to open a hatch to the rear loading bay, meaning you can slide longer items through from the back, stretching the load length from 3.0m to 3.4m. It also comes with an excellent feature – an integrated bag that keeps any dust, dirt or grime that might be on those longer items from getting all over the cabin.
The main loading bay has a fantastic payload in almost all cases, so long as you avoid the less powerful engines. These manage a payload of around 650kg, but the more powerful engines can carry around 1000kg, which is a real boost over the Transit Connect and the Volkswagen Caddy.
Every Partner gets one side sliding door, while you can add in a second one as an option. There is 1.2m of space between the rear wheels, which means there is space for two Euro pallets. You get six lashing hooks as standard and an extra four can be added as part of the Loading Pack. This also brings LED lighting in the rear and 12V and 220V power sockets.
By far the best piece of tech that is available on the Partner is the Overload sensor, which sounds a warning when you are getting close to maxing out the payload and another when you go over it. It can be heard at the back and in the cabin and is an excellent way to make the most of the van’s strong payload while staying safe and legal.
Engines and gearboxes
There are three diesel engines and one petrol in the Partner’s range. The basic 75PS diesel model might offer a cheap entry point to the range, but it also fails to live up to the practicality of the other diesels with a payload that is around 350kg lower than the majority of the rest of the range.
The 100PS model offers marginally more low-down pulling power to provide enough oomph on the motorway. However, it lacks a sixth gear, which means that it is less relaxed at higher speeds than the 130PS 1.5-litre diesel which is certainly the pick of the range.
When the Partner first launched it was also offered with a 1.6-litre diesel engine with either 75PS or 100PS. These were only offered for the first few months of the van’s life as they didn’t meet the new emissions standards that came in in 2019. Sufficient were sold that they will be available on the used market, though. They don’t quite match up to the torque levels of the newer engines, but the more powerful version is still capable of hauling a 1000kg payload.
The 1.2-litre petrols are, unsurprisingly, much more well suited to around town driving for those that don’t want to go for the basic diesel.
As well as the six-speed manual, there is an impressive eight-speed automatic gearbox that is controlled by a dial on the dash. It’s really smooth and makes a genuine case for itself if you are going to be in stop-start traffic a lot of the time.
Refinement and noise levels
The petrols are the quietest of the engines, as you would expect, but the 1.5-litre diesels are impressive in how refined and hushed they are. The older 1.6-litre diesels were much noisier, particularly when you got up to faster speeds on the motorway.
If spending hours on the motorway is to be a crucial part of your day then the top-level Asphalt trim has added cabin insulation to keep the noise to a minimum. This makes the Partner genuinely as quiet and relaxed on the move as a family car, regardless of whether you have an empty loading bay or not – the sound tends to reverberate around in the back if there is nothing to deaden the sound otherwise.
The Asphalt is only available with the two more powerful diesels and the more powerful petrol so the 75PS model is going to be noisier come what may.
As is often the case with a van, many of the safety systems are added extras or only available on the higher trims. The S model gets hill start assist, a driver’s airbag and hazard lights that flash under heavy braking.
The higher models get more, with the Professional getting an alarm, rear parking sensors, cruise control and an automatic electronic parking brake.
You have to add optional packs on to get more kit, although there is an impressive amount of equipment available. The Safety Pack brings a lane-departure warning system, speed limit recognition, an active safety brake and a distance alert system.
There’s more from the Safety Pack Plus, which adds auto lights and driver attention assist.
The best bit of safety kit is the Overload Sensor, which comes as standard on the Grip model and can be added as an option to all the other versions. It sounds an alarm if you get close to hitting the van’s maximum payload, and when you go over it, boosting safety and efficiency.
Insurance groups and costs
The insurance groups in the Partner range are all very close to one another with the standard-length S trim with the 75PS diesel the lowest at group 29A. Add all the equipment on and the top-trim with the most powerful engine is still only in group 35, so there isn’t a vast gap between the top and bottom of the range.
VED car tax
The Partner qualifies for commercial vehicle tax rates, which means it is eligible for the flat rate of VED. Company car drivers who use the van for personal reasons will also only pay the low, flat rate, BIK tax, too.
Trim levels and standard equipment
The S trim is best avoided if you have any choice in the matter as it comes with too sparse a kit list to recommend. The Professional is the all-round pick, for value and equipment. It adds cruise control, air conditioning, parking sensors, the front bench seat with the load-through hatch and the more adjustable driver’s seat.
Asphalt’s extra sound deadening will be a boost to long-distance drivers, and the rear-view camera is a useful extra, but this can be added as a relatively low cost extra.
The other value for money optional extra is the overload sensor, which costs relatively little and could pay for itself in no time in saved journeys and avoided fines.
On the inside
How much does it cost to run
Prices, versions and specification
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