Ford Transit Custom 2018 review: 300S
Ford's freshly restyled Transit Custom is racing up the sales charts, but is its new-found showroom appeal more than skin deep?
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It’s not easy to rebuild a brand, especially in Australia with our hyper-competitive market. What do you do to relaunch? New advertising, new dealerships, and finally (and most importantly) launch new products, especially ones with greater reach than before.
Enter Peugeot, a brand that’s been on sale in this country for donkey’s years, which has relaunched yet again in Australia. This time around, the brand has stolen the PSA commercial baton from Citroen - previously both brands offered commercial vehicles, but it’s Peugeot flying the flag from now.
It’s priced from $36,490, plus on-road costs, and will be joined by the smaller Peugeot Partner and larger Peugeot Boxer later in 2019.
|Peugeot Expert 2019: 150 HDI Standard|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Standard equipment levels with the Expert are strong, and don’t vary with the engine or body length chosen. AEB, adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter, blind spot monitoring, auto high beam, remote keyless entry, auto up/down windows, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto headlights and wipers, front and rear daytime running lights and auto-folding mirrors are all standard.
The reversing camera, auto-folding mirrors, automatic lights and wipers and a touchscreen with CarPlay and Android Auto - standard on the Expert - are pricey to option on the more expensive Volkswagen Transporter, and the VW is yet to offer AEB.
Peugeot’s ‘Moduwork’ system features a passenger seat that folds up to extend the load floor by 1.1m, as well as a central drinks compartment and armrest that swivels to reveal a hard surface to hold a laptop or tablet.
For now, no options are available as Peugeot looks to keep things as simple as possible with stock location and order times. The only choice for customers is engine variant, and in the middle engine variant, a short or long length.
Pricing kicks off from $36,490, plus on-road costs for the SWB 85kW/300Nm Expert.
Finally, at the top of the Expert tree is the $45,890 LWB 130kW/400Nm auto.
The Expert is a chic looking van that hides its overall size quite well. It won’t win any beauty contests, but I think it’s a handsome looking thing that offers some visual character thanks to large headlights and an aggressive grille.
Peugeot is offering the Expert in two overall length variants - 4.95m and 5.3m - and even in the longer version, its styling is well proportioned and appears smaller next to other van models.
The front and rear overhangs are also well contained, and make the Expert look better than many competitors in this reviewer’s eyes.
For now, Peugeot is offering the Expert with two body lengths and drivetrains yet the twin sliding rear doors and barn doors at the rear cannot be customised, and other features such as extra seating or other loading accessories won't be offered for now.
The bulkhead of the Expert is fixed as well - this helps with noise insulation and assures that the front passengers aren’t hit with heavy loads from the rear.
Peugeot offers the Expert in five colours - white (the only non-cost option), ‘Aluminium Grey’, ‘Platinum Grey’, ‘Perla Nesa Black’ and ‘Flame Red’ are optional extras.
Available in two overall lengths, the Expert provides a number of solutions for everyday van drivers’ problems.
The first is space, with the shorter model offering a useful load length of 3.67m (4.02m on the longer model), which can be increased by up to 1.1m when the company’s ‘Moduwork’ system is used.
Between the wheelarches is 1.26m, while the overall height varies between 1.9m for the short Expert and 1.94m for the longer one.
Even on the shorter wheelbase variants, the Expert offers 5800 litres of rear space volume, with 6600 on offer in the longer model.
The twin rear doors can open up to 180 degrees as standard, while sliding doors feature on both sides of all Expert models.
The cabin is also practical, with a seemingly endless variety of cubby spaces, cupholders in the doors and on top of the dashboard and even an insulated section under the middle seat where ice can be stored to cool drinks.
The middle seat armrest also doubles as a work space, with the plastic plate on the arm rest rotating for extra usability.
The Expert is available with either a 85kW/300Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine, or a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in either 110kW/370Nm or 130kW/400Nm forms.
The entry- and middle-level engines are offered with a six-speed manual, while the middle and top engines are available with a six-speed automatic with a rotary shift dial and paddle shifters.
These figures sit well in the competitor set, which all offer around 100kW of power - some offer less (Renault Trafic at 85kW) and some more (the Volkswagen Transporter at 132kW).
According to Peugeot, the 85kW engine uses just 5.2L/100km on a combined cycle, the 110kW engine 5.6L/100km and the 130kW engine 6.2L/100km. Claimed CO2 emissions range from 137g/km to 163g/km.
We spent a week with the 130kW LWB Expert after its launch, and in that time it used around 8.0L/100km - not bad for purely urban driving.
The 85kW and 130kW engines are Euro 6 compliant, which means they use a 22.4L Ad Blue emissions cleaning system that, according to Peugeot, lasts a minimum of 7000km.
This compares well with competitors as the 85kW Renault Trafic 1.6-litre diesel uses a claimed 6.6L/100km - 1.4L/100km above the entry-level Expert.
Peugeot has fitted each Expert with a host of safety kit not available in the Hyundai iLoad and even some of its own passenger cars, including AEB, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, auto high beam, a reversing camera (with front and rear parking sensors) and four airbags.
The Expert was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating in December 2015.
5 years / 200,000 km warranty
While Peugeot cars can cost more to maintain than competitors, the Expert offers yearly/20,000km service intervals with competitive service pricing and a five-year/200,000km warranty.
Five years of servicing costs $2686.47 for the 85kW Expert and $2982.46 for the 110kW and 130kW models, with the average yearly cost of $573.70 for the 85kW and $596.50 and 110kW/130kW variants.
This compares well with the Volkswagen Transporter’s $741 and Ford Transit Custom’s $564 yearly average over the first five years.
The Renault Trafic’s high $833 yearly average is partly due to its short three year capped-price servicing arrangement.
The Hyundai iLoad and Toyota HiAce cost less, with the iLoad costing an average of $392 each year over the first five years, and the HiAce $480 for the first two years.
The HiAce does have disappointingly short 10,000km/six-monthly service intervals however, and its capped pricing lasts just two years or the first four services.
Really good, to be honest. Possibly because it’s based on the same EMP2 platform that underpins the 308, 3008 and 5008, the Expert is very car-like to drive.
What stands out most is its ride quality, which is well disciplined even without loads. It’s also quiet in the cabin, with a well insulated engine and reasonable road noise.
On the launch of the Expert, we drove it back-to-back unladen and laden with 500kg, and found the Expert’s good dynamics didn’t change all that much with the extra weight on board.
It still felt sharp, the ride remained excellent and the performance wasn’t dulled much either.
What surprises is the gruntiness of the engine, even in 85kW form.
Thanks to a strong slug of torque, the Expert feels spritely, especially with the 130kW engine. What helps that is a six-speed automatic transmission that is unusually controlled by a rotary dial - it’s intuitive and smooth, though its reluctance to shift into sixth gear until over 100km/h can be annoying.
The manual is a good gearbox as well, with a smooth and short throw. The 110kW engine is also a good unit with its 370Nm of torque and would be the model this writer would choose.
The Expert’s steering is well-weighted and quick, especially so for city driving, and the visibility is also good thanks to large windows, long mirrors and an effective reversing camera.
Peugeot commands the European commercial vehicle market and with products like the Expert, it’s easy to see why. The Expert offers a car-like driving experience, a quiet drivetrain and impressive load credentials.
The Expert also offers competitive running costs against its main rivals, and with a proven engine, should prove reliable. We welcome the possibility of future variants with extra seats and more customisation, but for now Peugeot has launched a really impressive product in the Expert.
Our sweet spot pick is the 110kW auto, which is all you'd need for an engine regardless of length.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
|115 HDI Standard||1.6L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$23,200 – 31,460||2019 Peugeot Expert 2019 115 HDI Standard Pricing and Specs|
|150 HDI Long||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$28,700 – 38,060||2019 Peugeot Expert 2019 150 HDI Long Pricing and Specs|
|150 HDI Standard||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$27,600 – 36,630||2019 Peugeot Expert 2019 150 HDI Standard Pricing and Specs|
|180 HDI Long||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP||$30,200 – 39,490||2019 Peugeot Expert 2019 180 HDI Long Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
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