Despite offering a well-rounded commercial vehicle, vans are often overlook as on-farm workhorses.
To see how a modern version of the traditionally basic van stacks up, Richard Bradley gets to grips with Peugeot’s latest Expert, in top Professional Plus spec.
When it comes to load-lugging duties on farms, generally two options spring to mind; a practical pickup or comfortable 4x4. However, modern vans could offer an alternative, with acres of concealed storage and car-like driving characteristics. These features create workhorses equally capable of cruising hundreds of miles down the motorway or lugging around tools and equipment to keep a fleet up and running.
Among the latest breed of these high-tech vans is Peugeot’s new Expert, which appears to have adopted its bulldog-esque front-end styling from the firm’s other vehicle ranges.
Comprising 29 individual models, the Expert range of panel vans features three wheelbase options, two engines offering five different power ratings, and three spec levels. For our test, we got our hands on a BlueHDi 150 standard wheelbase model in top-spec Professional Plus guise.
Power is provided by a two-litre, 16-valve engine which churns out an impressive 150hp, with power transferred via a six-speed manual transmission. Thanks to its short-throw gear lever, changing cogs can be done fairly briskly, and with up to 370Nm torque on tap from 2,000rpm, the Expert picks its feet up even when cruising in the higher gears.
Boasting a 2,500kg braked towing capacity and gross train weight of 5,000kg, the Expert’s near 1,500kg payload also allows it to carry almost 50 percent more than most pickups on the market. Along with this, its 2.2m internal length (measured at mid-height) allows two Euro Pallets to comfortably fit inside its body.
A handy feature to accommodate longer items, Peugeot’s Moduwork system uses an opening hatch in the full-height steel bulkhead to allow items to slide through to the front of the passenger footwell. In standard length this allows up to 3.6m long items to be carried, and extends to 4m in the long version.
Sitting behind the wheel of the Expert you would be hard pressed to know you are not sat inside a decent specced car.
Mid-range Professional models benefit from a high spec level with touch-screen DAB radio, automatic control of lights and windscreen wipers, and rear parking sensors, along with base-spec’s cruise control. In top-spec Professional Plus guise, the Expert also boasts front parking sensors and rear camera which displays a clever virtual birds eye view.
One additional feature which we found particularly handy was the £930 optional driver assistance pack, which included a neat heads-up display. Along with displaying current speed, this showed cruise control settings, sat-nav information and via a forward-facing camera, detected speed signs to remind the driver of the current limits.
Having spent a week behind the wheel of the Expert, with the bulk of driving on motorways and A-roads to the Irish Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, neither the driver nor two passengers could fault the comfort or fit and finish of the cab. Our light payload revealed the suspension to be a touch on the firm side, however a hint of forgiveness indicates adding weight in the back would smoothen things out a little.
While its clever five-way traction control system pushes the Expert’s off road capabilities, it is not able to negotiate rough terrain like a 4x4, nor can it tow as much as a pick-up. However, Peugeot’s Expert is a well-rounded commercial vehicle which could happily serve as a portable workshop, fetch materials from the builder’s merchants, or with the addition of an airbed, a hotel on wheels.