Peugeot Partner Tepee
Van-styled people carrier has replaced our 207 SW – and it’s standing up well to the rigours of daily family use...
Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say “I was wrong!”. Three months ago, road test editor Chris Thorp introduced me to Peugeot’s Partner Tepee. He’d been hugely impressed by the budget MPV, and told me: “It’s great. Your kids will love it!”
I was far from convinced. Having spent a year with the firm’s smart 207 SW, the boxy van-shaped model looked more suitable for selling ice creams than transporting my family!
Well, it took about two weeks to get over the van prejudice, and another month to fall for the Tepee’s pure versatility. Our Outdoor model came with a host of optional extras, including the £550 Zenith Roof storage system. This gives you four glass ceiling panels and an overhead cubby that looks as if it came out of a Boeing 747.
My sons love being in control of their own ventilation and lighting, and the large sliding doors are also a hit. They make it easy to get in and out, especially in ever decreasing supermarket parking bays! All these features, plus the numerous hidden cubbyholes, are fun, and help lift the Peugeot away from its commercial vehicle image. One word of advice, though. The doors are heavy, especially if the car is parked facing downhill. My four-year-old was able to open the door enough to get his fingers inside, but couldn’t stop it sliding back on them. Ouch!
There are no such dangers inside, as the remote central and child locking secures everyone safely. In fact, everything is very well thought out once you’re behind the wheel. The massive wing mirrors put those in the average changing room to shame, and combine with the large rear view mirror for superb visibility all-round. This is important because the Tepee is wide. Much wider than the 207 SW – something my wife complains about when she’s trying to negotiate narrow city streets.
Squeezing into tight spaces would also be an issue without the rear parking aid (£220), while another extra I would recommend is the optional removable rear seats (£280). The three chairs are surprisingly light, so removing or replacing them is more straightforward than in many larger MPVs.
When you’ve taken them out, you get a true idea of the sheer amount of load space on offer. It’s at this point that friends and neighbours start to become a little jealous. All of a sudden, they stop asking for “two 99s and a cider lolly” and gaze enviously at the room the Peugeot has for moving stuff about instead.
The Tepee has turned into the Partner van again, and you wouldn’t believe how useful it is. Over the past month, I have collected furniture, carried a ladder and shifted whole rooms full of junk while redecorating my house. Yet you don’t have to remove the seats to take advantage of the mammoth boot. It’s such a pleasure to visit family for the weekend without having to carefully pack the car first. And the weekly shop now seems smaller, if no less expensive!
Even when fully loaded, the Tepee feels good to drive. It’s surprisingly sharp about town, and corners smoothly despite its height. The 1.6-litre diesel won’t get you anywhere fast, but it’s incredibly efficient, especially on motorways, where the cruise control comes into its own. If 0-60mph times or sleek lines are your thing, give the Partner Tepee a wide berth. But if you need something shifting, there’s no longer any need to call the man with a van!
I couldn’t agree more with Darren about the Tepee’s versatility. The load bay is simply enormous. Plus, for a vehicle of this size, the Peugeot is quite agile. Body control is pretty good and the handling quite car-like. The only thing I’m not keen on is the styling. Peugeot’s wide-mouthed grille is an acquired taste at the best of times, but the large area of silver trim on the Outdoor only draws attention to it.
Stuart Morton Chief sub editor