Peugeot Partner Tepee: 5,860 miles

Final report: People carrier is pitched into battle for a camping trip. Does it uphold scout’s honour?

  • There's no getting away from the Peugeot’s practicality. It’s so easy to live with, it’s been a revelation – from the sliding doors which prevent car park bruises to the vast boot that swallows anything you can throw into it. Just as helpful are the extra aeroplane-inspired cubbyholes, while the twin rear trays under the carpet are ideal for storing a Sony PSP console and games.
  • It’s a struggle to think of anything I dislike about the Tepee. Some colleagues have criticised its gearbox, and others aren’t keen on the large grille – neither has ever bothered me. But the clearance needed to raise the tailgate can be an issue if you live in a tree-lined street!

After seven months behind the wheel and a host of glowing reports, our Partner Tepee is returning to Peugeot. It will be sorely missed, too – especially at this time of the year, with holidays coming thick and fast.

The Tepee is the perfect car for a week away, with its vast boot and endless practicality. It’s already been ‘borrowed’ for a trip to Cornwall this summer. Closer to home, our Outdoor model has been put through its paces by the cubs and scouts of the 1st Crystal Palace, 2nd Croydon Pack. It has raised suspension, uprated tyres and 16-inch alloys – but could it cope with 25 cub scouts on a two-day camp?

Well, it managed better than I did! The English summer didn’t let us down, and as I drove on to camp to drop off all our equipment, the rain started. It wasn’t the trickiest of off-road journeys, but the Tepee had no problems cutting across some deep Land Rover tracks, and only slid in the mud a little.

As the Outdoor has an underbody protection tray, I had no worries about doing any damage. However, because the rain continued to fall over the weekend, I decided not to bring it back into camp – especially over some of the steep, greasy slopes – to load up for the trip home. It’s no match for a 4x4.

You can never have too many torches when you go night hiking with a cub group. So the removable, rechargeable light from the boot joined us for the weekend and lasted quite well – certainly long enough to change a tyre on a dark country lane. The 1st Crystal Palace is one of the oldest scout groups in the world, and this family camp was the biggest in its history. But not even the Tepee could hold all the food and gear 55 campers require for a weekend – finally, a job it couldn’t do!

Still, come the end of an exhausting couple of days, it was simple enough to flip down the seats and load up anything that wouldn’t fit in the group’s Ford Transit. We were too tired to pack properly, so it all got shoved into the big load space.

Yet despite the mud, sweat and damp clothing, we still weren’t tempted to use Peugeot’s air freshening system. I’d rather switch on the air-con or open the windows than put up with the sickly sweet perfume smell.

Overall, the Tepee has been a fantastic all-round family car. It took little more than a month to get over my reservations about the boxy looks – and since then, it’s mostly been positive.

But one thing did bother me recently. The cylindrical ashtray in the floor was dislodged by one of the children, and rolled under the throttle pedal while I was driving. I suppose it was a freak accident – but thank goodness it wasn’t the brake!

My only regret is that I never got the chance to use the Tepee as a tent. I’d planned to remove the three rear seats one weekend, throw in an air mattress and head off with a stove. With the glass panelled sunroof, it would have been great for a night under the stars. Never mind – the car has already earned its outdoor challenge badge.

Second Opinion

I took the Tepee down to Cornwall in May, and it has the edge over most of the cars I’ve driven on long trips. The twin sliding side doors and vast boot help you pack in holiday gear, and the space inside means you forget about the quirky exterior.

George Vedmore Designer

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