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Easy to use, potent 110bhp HDi
Not quite as good an all-round package as the Transit Connect
Peugeot's Expert van is a fruit of the same project as the Citroën Dispatch and Fiat Scudo, and underwent a major revision in 2004, perhaps to help stave off the threat from Ford's new entrant in the light van sector. The diesel-only Expert has a comfortable on-road performance advantage over the Transit Connect, but is based on an older design so doesn't quite offer as complete a package. As well as the panel van, Peugeot also offers a five-seat window van called the Combi, which is sometimes used as a private hire vehicle.
The Peugeot Expert, and its sister vans the Citroën Dispatch and Fiat Scudo, were developed using some of the same components as the Peugeot 806, Citroën Synergie and Fiat Ulysse. It means the dashboard and interior fittings are surprisingly car-like. Seats have been improved for the 2004 version of the Expert, becoming larger and with extra side support and with a greater level of adjustment. Versions with a dual passenger seat incorporate a fold-down writing surface containing cup holders on the centre seat cushion back. The wide instrument binnacle is easy on the eye, and the gearstick is placed conveniently on the dashboard. To maximise space in the centre of the cabin, the handbrake is situated to the right of the driver. A CD/radio has been standard since 2004, and a ladder-style bulkhead behind the driver is also standard.
The Expert is easy to drive, and when fitted with the 2.0HDi engine offers effortless performance. Despite its spacious interior, it always feels like a compact van and an easy-to-reach gearstick and standard power steering ensures driving the Expert never feels part of the job. Engine noise is relatively muted and the Expert always feels responsive with 188lb ft of torque available at 1750rpm. It corners well, with limited body roll and with some weight on board provides a comfortable ride. The 1.9D Expert offers 71bhp at 4600rpm and 94lb ft of torque at 2600rpm, and always feels like it's working harder than the HDi.