Peugeot Partner Tepee: 4,406 miles

Second Report: Is running the budget MPV proving to be a tall order?

Size and agility seldom go together. Take one look at Peugeot’s Partner Tepee and you might be forgiven for dismissing it as an odd-looking van conversion: a big, boxy vehicle for shifting things, with little refinement and few hidden qualities. But being tall and ungainly doesn’t always prove to be a disastrous combination – just ask footballer Peter Crouch.

The Portsmouth striker was booed coming on for his country back in 2006. Now, 15 goals later, the 6ft 7in forward has proven his skill, touch and versatility, assuming cult status among the England faithful. So, does Peugeot’s budget MPV follow his lead?

The answer is yes – in spades! The lanky, budget MPV is most surprising out on the road. Many of my miles are spent weaving in and out of the back streets of London. Despite its 1.86m height, the MPV’s handling is not bad.

I rarely feel off-balance, even when taking the sharpest of bends, and I find the power and acceleration more than adequate at city junctions. The brakes are equally sharp, having called upon the ABS more than once on the obstacle course that is a daily city commute.

Unfortunately, speed bumps tend to trip up the Tepee a little. At first, I opted to drive over them without reducing my speed too much. This was probably due to the size of the car. Perhaps I was mistaking it for an SUV? You see, outdoor models like ours come with raised suspension, and while the benefits are mainly cosmetic, the resulting ride comfort is impressive.

Inside, there is no danger of me whacking my head on the roof with the massive height clearance. But at 2.112m wide, the Tepee is not as thin as it is tall. Huge wing mirrors account for much of this and often need to be folded in on narrower streets, especially when passing commercial vehicles that have similar protrusions.

The sliding doors are invaluable in tight supermarket parking bays, allowing my two over-excited kids to get out with no danger of them thumping the cars either side.

The Tepee has also treated my family to a level of refinement I didn’t expect. It is extremely comfortable, and the seats are easy to adjust. What’s more, the cabin layout is sensible and attractive, with plenty of room to store CDs, maps and clutter.

The heater hasn’t been great over the winter, struggling to raise the cabin temperature quickly at the start of a journey. This has caused some problems with demisting the windscreen – and chilly children in the cheap seats.

We documented the Partner’s practicality in the previous report (Issue 1,055), as I was won over by the load space and easily removable rear seats. This enables the five-seater to be quickly converted to a van, and I even fitted a bed and mattress in the rear.

Last month, a sub-£15,000, seven-seat version of the Tepee was tested (Issue 1,060) with glowing reviews. I’d snap up this option, as an extra £570 would pay for itself in fuel costs. Family days out with grandparents could then be handled by one car rather than the two required at present.

It might have taken Crouchy time to win over his doubters, but the unfashionable Tepee has done wonders in its five-month transfer to Auto Express. The Peugeot doesn’t have a footballer’s looks, but players would kill for its versatility. Not to mention the ability to provide the occasional surprise!

Extra Info

The boxy looks won’t win admiring glances, but it makes sense in day-to-day use. Our Outdoor’s raised suspension also provides excellent ride comfort, which makes the Tepee a capable mile-muncher. Only wind noise lets it down on motorway journeys.

- Ross Pinnock Road test editor

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