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Charged up and ready for business – Peugeot e-Expert

There’s something to be said about a good work vehicle. They often get little attention, see heaps of hard work and have to deal with a substantial amount of abuse. So, as a very enthusiastic van evaluator, you get to accompany me as I try out the e-Expert, another offering from Peugeot in that segment (I’ve recently also had the e-Partner). I might not have given it the biggest of shakedowns considering I never loaded it with more than 20kg of cargo, but with the pretensions of providing a car-like experience, I guess a drive around town with the occasional motorway run should give us a good impression of what it is like to live with. 

The Expert is known by many (I meant it) different names across all the markets it’s sold, including rebadges in and out the Stellantis group. It has changed a bit over the years, growing from a compact van to a more “full fledged” shape. With the right hubcaps and In this funky silver colour which extends to the bumpers, you could even go as far as  calling this one a looker. Or maybe it was the sign writing my model had, which worked like a charm as I could see many people checking it out – the van, not me. I’m weird but not that weird. 

The added dimensions of the Expert over Peugeot’s next size down make for a van that was a footprint just slightly longer and taller than the Partner, but that leads to heaps more cargo room (from 3.9 to 5.3m2 if you’re comparing both short-wheelbase versions). That’s not to be sneezed at, and would alone be enough to sway people towards either one of the models. 

Climbing inside the passenger compartment (cockpit sounds way cooler, so maybe I’ll go with that) and you will see a mix of van-like – as in hard – materials on the doors and dashboard alongside some nicely appointed ones, such as the seats, the leather wrapped steering wheel and the robust floor materials. The seats are heated and have an astonishing range of adjustment, but the seating position might be a bit hit-or-miss here – I struggled to find something that was comfortable for me, but my partner had no issues. The massive door pockets have multiple subdivisions and became the storage I used the most, as the other solutions across the cabin are somewhat uninspired. The only cupholders are by the A pillars and will take small items, so the clipboard holder on the back of the centre seat became a useful phone holder during my drives.

If you alternatively decide to get inside using any of the four other doors that are available, you will get to the cavernous cargo compartment of the Expert. The optimisation here is impressive: every last centimetre of space is maximised, with wheels that go to the very extremities of the wheelbase and little intrusion of the wheel wells. There are tie down points and two courtesy lights to make organising things easier. A welcome surprise here was that all five door handles are equiped with the keyless entry sensors, so quick runs to the cargo bay will not require you to interact with the key itself or have to unlock the front doors to access something back there. It’s all about the details. 

And then it was time to drive it. The corporate gear selector the group uses in many of its cars is here, and while I’ve heard people say it’s fiddly, for me it just falls right on the hand and becomes second nature quite quickly. There is quite a bit of lag built into the accelerator pedal, which I see as a good thing in a goods vehicle, and in city speeds it never felt underpowered. On the motorway, I tried a few 0-100km/h sprints that averaged very close to the claimed figure of 14 seconds, which is not going to light your hair on fire. Again, not the reason why you get a van, but I’m concerned about the role cargo weight might play not only on this, but also on the range.

The 75kWh battery promises 339km of range, and while low, the figures seemed always extremely accurate to me. I would drive a handful of kilometres and re-evaluate based on the range prediction, and it was always spot on. I got to charge the Expert in both slow and fast charging manners, and charging speeds were all within claimed and according to current standards. The added charging speed readout on the dash was great and made my half hour fast charging stop a bit more entertaining. That and fooling my friends asking them to try to get the vestigial petrol cap open. 

The suspension architecture lives up to the car-like idea behind the Expert, as makes it easier to live with than the more work-horse-y counterparts. There is still the odd bumpy behaviour every now and again, but that’s okay for vehicles with higher payload capacity and a big improvement over those of one or two generations ago. Accurate steering and a great turning circle finish the package of a van that is most at home in the city, where living with it is a breeze. 

This ingenious pass-through allows for longer items and makes the Expert even more versatile

When it comes to tech, your experience will vary depending on your expectations. If you think a vehicle with this price tag commands the latest in terms of connectivity and features, you might get a bit disappointed with the shortage of ports, the performance of the camera or the definition of the centre screen. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a tried and true system that offers phone connectivity and the bare minimum that a vehicle not used for leisure and lifestyle should have, than you will be happy. There is wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the voice commands work great and there is almost no choice for any kind of customisation. The omission of adaptive cruise control is a head scratcher considering the petrol version offers it as standard equipment, and would have helped to complete the city package for this van, which is great helped by the front and rear parking sensors and automatic emergency braking.

There’s a window that separates the cockpit from the cargo, and in my experience it was a blessing and a curse. While it brings a clear distinction between the areas and makes conditioning the cabin easier, it does almost nothing for rear visibility considering there is a pillar between the rear barn doors and that the centre seat headrest blocks most of the window. Add to that the reflection that gets cast by the screen when driving it at night, and it became practically useless from my seating position. Removing the centre headrest definitely helped, but if you carry three people constantly, you will rely heavily on the rear assistances. 

But, as I’ve said when dealing with other vans, chances are you will have your van filled up to the roof with stuff you need to move around for your business, and will do that driving forward, not backwards. And that’s one of the Expert’s strengths, even more so in electric form. The mix of its manageable dimensions, clever optimisation and a powertrain that is as easy as it gets to operate make it a winner for the city runs. 

The Expert felt like a compelling package for those in the market for a van sized between other offerings found elsewhere. Even though it might feel like an “in-betweener” EV product that would benefit from a dedicated EV platform or a more efficient powertrain, I’m sure that for most use cases it brings to the table everything those customers are expecting. 

Peugeot have a winning formula on their hands with the e-Expert, and I would love to see what this product grows into once it reaches its final form. And when that time comes, sign me up, because I’m all about that van life. Thanks for reading! 

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One Response

  1. Good review Harry, you evaluated the e-Expert for its workhorse abilities as well as the attractive electric power alternative!

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