Peugeot Australia offers variants across the small, medium and large commercial van segments. Its largest model, the manual-only Boxer 160 which in 2020 features improved safety and warranty, competes in the LD (light duty) 3501-8000kg GVM class.
We recently put it to the test during a busy working week, to find out if it can land a few punches on its opponents in Australia’s heavy commercial vehicle division.
Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The Boxer 160 (which denotes its European horsepower or ‘PS’ rating) is available only with a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission, plus a choice of 4035mm long wheelbase or 3450mm standard wheelbase like our test vehicle, for a list price of $47,490.
It comes equipped with 15-inch steel wheels and 215/70 R15C tyres with a full-size spare, plus cargo bay bulkhead, hard-wearing rubber floor, 12-volt accessory socket and USB ports, height/reach adjustable steering wheel, two bucket seats with fold-down inboard armrests and lumbar adjustment and multimedia system with 5.0-inch touchscreen and sat-nav plus ample storage and more. There’s also AEB on the upgraded safety menu.
The Boxer 160 wears 15-inch steel wheels.
The only options available are three paint colours (Imperial Blue, Red and Aluminium Grey) in addition to our test vehicle’s standard Bianca White.
Design – is there anything interesting about its design?
It comes ready for work with hard-wearing black plastic in the most vulnerable places for scrapes and dents, including the front and rear bumpers and down the sides. The same black finish can be found on the window surrounds, door handles, huge door mirrors (which would not look out of place on a Kenworth) and the housing for the high-mounted third brake light.
It’s a large vehicle measuring 5413mm long, 2050mm wide and, thanks to the conspicuously high roof line, stands 2522mm tall. So, like numerous rivals in this weight class, it can’t access most shopping centre and underground carparks.
The front-wheel drive chassis, with its 3450mm wheelbase and 12.6-metre turning circle, features a simple and rugged combination of coil-spring strut front suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, power-assisted rack and pinion steering and single-leaf/solid beam rear suspension. Long rubber bump-stop cones, attached to the underfloor above each end of the rear axle, provide extra support when the springs compress under heavy loads.
The Boxer measures in at 5413mm long, 2050mm wide and, 2522mm tall.
The steel bulkhead, which separates the cabin from the cargo bay, insulates the driver/passenger from cargo bay noise and doubles as a robust cargo barrier. Its window is large enough to allow the driver to make a quick over-shoulder glance at any time to check the load is secure.
Criticisms? The relatively small 5.0-inch media screen can make the reversing camera’s vision difficult to see in detail. The height adjustment on the driver’s seat, using two levers on the lower right side, is clunky to operate. And although the rear barn-door windows are heated, there are no wiper/washers, which we didn’t get to test in wet conditions, which is most unusual for Melbourne.
The height adjustment on the driver’s seat, using two levers on the lower right side, is clunky to operate.
Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The 2.0-litre Blue HDI four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which meets the toughest Euro 6 emissions standard using AdBlue, produces peak values of 120kW at 3500rpm and 310Nm of torque at 1500rpm.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel produces 120kW/310Nm.
Peugeot claims this engine was tested for more than 10,000 hours, subjected to more than 1.3 million km of drive-testing and 16,000 thermal shock cycles (cold starting and accelerations), corresponding to 15 years of intensive use. In short, it should be tough enough. Transmission is a sweet-shifting six-speed manual.
Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?
Peugeot’s official combined average is a fanciful 6.4L/100km. The dash readout was claiming a more realistic 9.0L/100km when we filled the tank after 282km of testing, which included more than a third of that distance lugging its maximum payload.
However, our own figure calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings came in at 9.9L, which is more than 3.0L/100km above the official figure. Even so, sub-10L economy is very efficient for a vehicle of this size, so based on our figures you could expect an excellent real-world driving range of around 900km from its big 90-litre tank.
Practicality – How practical is the space inside?
The Boxer 160’s 1865kg tare weight and 3510kg GVM results in a sizeable 1645kg payload rating. However, we always quote kerb weights (full tank of fuel) rather than tare weights (10 litres of fuel) to keep things consistent.
So, in this case, adding the missing 80 litres of diesel (67kg) results in a kerb weight of 1932kg, which reduces the payload by the same amount to 1578kg. That’s still almost 1.6 tonnes which is more than ample for this category. It's also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer and, based on European figures at least, can do this with a full payload.
The cargo bay provides a competitive 11.5 cubic metres of load volume and 10 sturdy load-anchorage points. Its floor, which is 3120mm long and 1870mm wide with 1420mm between the wheel housings, can accommodate two 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallets or three 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets. There’s ample forklift access through the rear barn-doors with full 270-degree openings or sliding side doors with their big 1250mm openings.
The cargo area can be accessed by rear barn-doors or side sliding side doors.
The cargo bay provides a competitive 11.5 cubic metres of load volume and 10 sturdy load-anchorage points.
The high roof cavity means even tall adults can stand inside with headroom to spare. It also provides a large and very useful open storage area over the driver’s cabin, which is ideal for storing ropes, straps, load-padding and any other gear a hard-working van might need.
Although the side doors and barn-doors are lined to mid-height, the cargo bay walls are unlined which leaves numerous cavities exposed that could make small items like pens, keys, phones etc disappear if they were dropped. The load floor is also unprotected.
Cabin storage options include upper and lower bins in each door, with the lower bins being wide and deep enough to hold several large bottles. There’s also a full-width map shelf that sits about forehead height for tall drivers, which is easy to access and can hold heaps of stuff.
The front doors features low bins wide and deep enough to hold several large bottles.
The dashboard also has numerous storage choices including open shelves to the right of the steering column and underneath it, cup/small-bottle holders in the centre of the dash and on top a fixed clipboard with spring-loaded clamp. There’s also a glovebox with another large open storage bin below it plus even more storage, about the size of a baking tray, under the driver’s seat.
What’s it like as a daily driver?
You sit up high with the huge windscreen providing a commanding view of the road ahead. Clear eye-lines to the large door mirrors (with wide-angle mirrors in their lower thirds) provide ample coverage of side and rear traffic.
Vision through the central rear-view mirror is also relatively clear compared to the cluttered views found in numerous rivals we’ve tested. The join of the barn-doors obscures the mirror’s central portion, but the driver still has a good view of what’s behind.
The fold-down inboard arm-rests combined with the door contours provide balanced support for arms and elbows to reduce strain on neck and shoulders. This support is particularly good for the driver, as it also allows your hands to rest comfortably on the steering wheel.
There’s negligible cargo bay noise thanks to the bulkhead. However, engine noise is noticeable and tyre noise can be quite intrusive, particularly at highway speeds on coarse bitumen surfaces. Cruising in top gear results in a fairly relaxed 2100rpm at 100km/h and 2300rpm at 110km/h.
The engine, with maximum torque at 1500rpm, has good all-round performance and pulling power under heavy loads, but lacks the sharper throttle response of some rivals. Even so, the manual gearshift has a light but well-defined action combined with a light clutch pedal weight.
Steering is nicely weighted and the quartet of disc brakes have plenty of bite. Handling and stability are also good regardless of load. The rear suspension tuning is commendable when running without loads on bumpy roads, providing a surprisingly smooth ride given spring rates that are designed to cope with 1.5 tonne-plus payloads.
Our only gripes are that the driver’s seat’s adjustable lumbar support presses too firmly against the spine for our liking, even on its softest setting. We also detected a couple of rattles and squeaks on bumpy roads, which sounded like they were coming from the dashboard area.
What’s it like for tradie use?
We forklifted 1450kg into the cargo bay, which with driver equalled a huge payload of 1560kg that was just under our kerb weight-adjusted peak rating.
The rear leaf-springs compressed more than 60mm, which ensured the supplementary rubber cones were fully compressed against the beam axle. It’s important to note that the high tyre pressures recommended for these loads (59psi front/65psi rear) are beyond the capacity of most tyre inflators provided on petrol station forecourts.
We forklifted 1450kg into the cargo bay.
At maximum payload the Boxer proved to be a competent load-hauler, with enough compliance in the suspension to float over bumps and maintain its composure on a variety of roads and surface irregularities.
The engine also performed well on our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km set climb at 60km/h, easily pulling this weight to the top in third gear at 2500rpm. Engine-braking on the way down wasn’t as good, as it started to run away from us on overrun in second gear, which is what we expected given its relatively small displacement and the big load it was trying to restrain.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
The Boxer is covered by Peugeot's five years/200,000km warranty and scheduled service intervals of 12 months/20,000km, whichever occurs first. Capped-price servicing applies for the first five scheduled services with a total cost of $3445 valid until June 30, 2020.
It has its faults like any vehicle but it’s a competent all-rounder, that combines sub-$50K pricing with a big payload capacity, mostly user-friendly design, improved safety and a compelling warranty. It also faces stiff competition in the 3501-8000kg GVM class, particularly from rivals with an automatic option.