17 May 2017

Review: Peugeot Traveller

When you base an MPV on a van, especially a medium van, it will inevitably look and feel like … well, a van, writes Brian Byrne.

It’s partly a size thing, partly the shape, which if it is any useful of a van at all, it has to have the shape that will accommodate packages and pallets in the most efficient way.

Of course, when it comes to the Peugeot Expert van on which the Peugeot Traveller people carrier is based, well the platform is the same one that underpins other MPVs in the PSA Group …. such as the Citroen C4 Picasso, and just recently the new 3008 crossover.

So, the Traveller is an MPV based on a van based on an MPV … which is why all variants are so comfortable.

And then there’s the Traveller based on the compact length of the van, which eliminates the size problem, and only at the expense of some luggage space when the third row of seats is in use.

I think the Traveller looks very smart, especially in this length. The style elements of the front, the only space where you can have style I suppose, are strong and modern, set off by chrome-style details and with very funky looking lights. It’s a bull-nose look, with a high bonnet, but the aesthetics work for me.

I think the overall shape looks good too, and I like the driving height, which also facilitates passengers being able to see over some hedges and traffic. Great if you have kids who need constant attention stimulus.

The sliding side doors provide good access to the middle and rearmost seats, and the lift-up rear door is handy for sitting under shelter in the parking field of any weekend leisure gig where spectating or picnicking is part of the action.

Compact it might be, but the vehicle is 4.6m long, and though it has a 2.9m wheelbase rather than the 3.4m in the two longer variants, there’s still plenty of room inside. The seating configuration can be 2/5/8 and further cargo-carrying options can be achieved by removing seats entirely. With the three rows in use, the compact only offers about the same boot capacity as a Kia Picanto, but flip that rear row forward and you get up to 1,300L of capacity, more if you take the seats out altogether.

My review car had the Active entry specification, cloth seats, and very comfortable too. Again, because of the Expert base, there’s lots of headroom, and I expect that even with a pretty full complement of passengers there’d be no sense of claustrophobia.

The specification levels even at the Active stage are high, and it’s almost easier to say what’s not available there, such as no body coloured door handles. Oddly, there are no curtain airbags on Active.

All versions get a 7” touchscreen, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. All get cruise control, and electric front windows. All get the dinky child surveillance mirror, which sounds a little creepy but does work well.

The dashboard is a tidy affair, well finished in good quality materials, and with a wide lidded storage space in the middle top to keep maps and other stuff from littering down to the scuttle. The steering wheel angle is comfortable, the gear stick neatly set into an outcrop from the fascia, and generally controls are well-placed.

The review car had the 115hp 1.6 diesel which has its own very good reputation in many PSA and other brands. It was very quiet in this application, and lugged us along with a minimum of fuss.

The overall driving experience of the Traveller is absolutely superb in comfort terms, and the car handles nicely too. In its van clothes I’m already on record that the Expert and its sibling vehicles are the nicest in the business to drive, and this Traveller would equal any luxury car in this respect.

It can be upgraded at purchase, by choosing 2.0 diesels in 150hp/180hp guises, that last with an automatic transmission. You can also step up the spec to Allure and Business VIP levels if you are so inclined to spend … both of those have full leather, the top one drops a middle seat to offer lounge or boardroom comfort for five behind the driver.

So where would I see the Traveller fitting in? Well, in compact and standard sizes, it could be a family car to see the children and their home taxi needs through their teens. I’d reckon on keeping it for five or six years to get the most out of it.

At the top end it could be an executive shuttle between head offices and airports, for instance, or to meetings with peers across town. It is good-looking enough for that in Business VIP.

The compact version has only arrived, and it is priced at €36,695 plus delivery, a fair bit cheaper than the €38,000 starting price of the standard length Active. Right, not your typical family wagon price, but you’re getting significantly more space than in many a compact SUV, and arguably more real usability.