Peugeot Partner Combi

Say hello to one of the most significant new Peugeots of 2003! No we haven't gone mad, we really do think that much of the Partner Combi Escapade. Based on the standard car, the newcomer has more rugged looks and a revised cabin.

Although essentially a heavily dressed up van, the Partner Escapade proves both practical and refined. Its low price adds to the appeal, as does the robust 2.0-litre diesel engine. Suspension is supple and the car is surprisingly good to drive. SUV fans on a tight budget would be well ad-vised to take a closer look.

Say hello to one of the most significant new Peugeots of 2003! No we haven't gone mad, we really do think that much of the Partner Combi Escapade. Based on the standard car, the newcomer has more rugged looks and a revised cabin.

Our enthusiasm for the machine is not only down to its versatile interior. It's the fact buyers on a budget can get behind the wheel of a practical SUV from only £10,295.

Although more of an off-road wan-nabe than a serious mud-plugger, the Escapade's tall suspension, protective body cladding and metallic paintwork prove how serious Peugeot is about the appeal of its van-based MPV.

It's one of the few manufacturers not to offer a full off-roader, and the new Combi Escapade, which is reminiscent of the Talbot Matra Rancho, indicates the direction in which the company in-tends to push its lifestyle vehicles.

With a torquey 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine, the car gives great fuel economy and a surprising level of refinement. The supple suspension absorbs any road bumps well, and although it reaches the limits of its travel reasonably quickly, it ensures good handling.

However, if you are after luxury, you had better look elsewhere. Although well equipped, the interior reveals the Escapade's commercial origins with a functional dash and rough fabrics. That said, the seats fold flat easily, while sliding doors and low sills make loading up a doddle. More storage bins as standard would be handy, but Peugeot does offer overhead lockers in the rear as an option. So despite the car's rough edges, it's clear the company has a great future with its new Escapade.

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