Peugeot Partner review (2020)

Clever small van that's versatile and good to drive

Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

PROS

  • Compact dimensions yet large inside
  • Lots of cab storage space
  • Efficient engines, easy to drive
  • 1,000kg payload potential
  • Overload indicator and other tech

CONS

  • Dashboard layout won’t suit all drivers
  • You may prefer Citroen/Vauxhall versions
  • Fiddly air-con controls
  • Laggy touchscreen
  • Best tech limited to top spec models
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Summary

The Peugeot Partner is the joint winner of the Parkers 2020 Small Van of the Year Award - read our full review to find out why.

This latest Peugeot Partner was first launched into the UK in early 2019, making it one of the newest small vans on the market. Traditionally one of the bestselling light commercial vehicles in all of Europe, it aims to tempt buyers with keen value, impressive amounts of technology and high payload ratings.

Family and other rivals

As ever, the Partner and the Citroen Berlingo are the same van underneath the branding, though the differences in the cabin are more obvious this time round, with the Partner adopting Peugeot's novel i-Cockpit dashboard layout and tiny steering wheel.

This Partner also shares its platform with the contemporary Vauxhall Combo Cargo, following the British brand's purchase by Peugeot's parent company the PSA Group in 2017, while a Toyota version called the Proace City is set to go on sale in 2020.

In addition to this in-house competition, the Partner also faces a stiff challenge from the Volkswagen Caddy and Ford Transit Connect, with the Ford typically being the bestselling small van among UK buyers. Other rivals include the Renault Kangoo and Fiat Doblo Cargo, though both are feeling their age at this point.

Efficient BlueHDi diesel engines

The Partner launched in January 2019 with tried-and-tested 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engines found in the previous-gen model, producing 75hp and 99hp, plus a newer 1.6-litre BlueHDi 130 with 131hp at the top of the range – this is an engine you’ll find in several Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall passenger cars.

However, the 1.6-litre engines don't meet the very latest Euro 6.2 emissions standards (in force from September 2019), so have now been replaced by newer 1.5-litre alternatives offering 76hp and 102hp

There’s also a PureTech 110 petrol with 110hp available to suit those who don't want diesel; a viable option for those using the Partner in town the majority of the time.

All come with manual gearboxes, while top-flight engines are available with an optional EAT8 eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Two body lengths and four trim levels

The Partner is available in two body lengths: Standard L1 and Long L2 (a bit simpler to understand than the Berlingo's M and XL), with extra length gained from a stretched wheelbase and extended rear overhang for the longer version.

The Partner comes in four trim levels: S, Grip, Professional and Asphalt. These mirror the options available on the Citroen Berlingo, giving buyers a choice between more utilitarian models intended for roles such as working on building sites, or slightly more luxurious versions to suit long-distance drivers who spend lots of time behind the wheel.

The Partner in Standard length will over 1,000kg in the back (depending on the model), with the Long model’s limit 50kg less. Both will swallow a pair of Euro pallets - for more info see our dedicated Peugeot Partner Dimensions page.

Up front, Standard models can come with either two or three front seats, while as of October 2019 the Long model is available as a Crew Cab with a second row of seats, meaning you can have up to five seats in total.

The Crew Cab also includes a moveable bulkhead/grille partition, which means that it can be almost as practical as the regular van, thanks to second-row seats that can fold down when not required.

Unusual interior for the Peugeot Partner

If you’re struggling to choose between the Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall, it’s likely to be the interior that makes or breaks it for the Partner over the other two.

That’s because it features a version of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit dashboard layout found in its cars, meaning you get a dinky steering wheel and high-set dials.

Some will find it easy to get used to, others not so much, as you have to be the right height and size to find a comfortable driving position – in some cases you’ll find the top of the steering wheel obscures part of the dials.

Peugeot says this makes its cars feel sportier, but we’re not sure that’s a priority for van drivers, and the design is a bit of an acquired taste. As such, the more traditional layout found in the Citroen and Vauxhall could convince potential Partner buyers to opt for them instead.


Peugeot Partner Verdict

The Peugeot Partner comes with all the best bits of the Citroen and Vauxhall, which is to say a flexible cabin with plenty of storage, a load bay large enough for two Euro pallets, high payload ratings, a wide range of efficient engines, and a safe, secure drive.

Where it may fall down for some buyers is the interior design, as it has a layout that many will find difficult to get used to. Some may love it of course, but if you don’t like change, or simply want a van the most people will be able to get in and drive without any form of adjustment, you’re probable best going for the Berlingo or the Combo instead.

That said, the Transit Connect remains well worth a look, too.


Peugeot Partner driving experience

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Efficient and refined diesel engines
  • Three-cylinder petrol also available
  • Easy to drive, but dashboard may frustrate

Unsurprisingly, the Partner drives pretty much exactly the same as the Berlingo and Combo, thanks to shared underpinnings and engines.

That means a range of efficient diesel engines that suit the Partner’s size well, and a composed drive with neat handling and inpressive manoeuvrability thanks to the (partially) new structure underneath. The front uses parts from the firm’s latest EMP2 platform that underpins many Peugeot passenger cars, while the rear of the Partner uses the existing van platform.

Peugeot Partner engines and gearboxes

There were three diesel engines at launch in January 2019:

  • BlueHDi 75: 1.6-litre, 75hp @ 3,500rpm / 230Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • BlueHDi 100: 1.6-litre, 99hp @ 3,750rpm / 254Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • BlueHDi 130: 1.5-litre, 131hp @ 3,750rpm / 300Nm @ 1,750rpm

This range was updated for Euro 6.2 (also known as Euro 6d-Temp) in September 2019, which saw the two 1.6-litre motors replaced by similarly powerful but newer 1.5-litre alternatives:

  • BlueHDi 75: 1.5-litre, 76hp @ 3,500rpm / 230Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • BlueHDi 100: 1.5-litre, 102hp @ 3,500rpm / 250Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • BlueHDi 130: 1.5-litre, 131hp @ 3,750rpm / 300Nm @ 1,750rpm

We’re yet to try the lower-powered BlueHDI 75 models, but we suspect this will lend itself best to city driving the punchier BlueHDi 100 and BlueHDi 130 models will be far better suited to out-of-town driving.

As such, the BlueHDi 100 is the expected bestseller, blending low fuel consumption with enough power and torque to be easy to drive on the motorway without feeling out of its depth.

The only issue with this engine is that it comes with a five-speed manual (as does the BlueHDi 75) meaning it can get a little noisy at motorway cruising speeds, leaving you wanting a sixth gear.

The BlueHDi 130 is the only one to get a sixth gear, giving it much greater flexibility on country roads and motorways. This also helps it to be more refined than the others (though all the 1.5-litre units are better than the 1.6-litre models), making it more relaxing to drive.

The six-speed manual gearbox feels a little slicker and more pleasant to use than the five-speeder, too. The 130 is also available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox – badged EAT8.

We’re yet to drive this particular version but know from other Peugeot vehicles (including the larger Expert van) that this is a nice, smooth, efficient auto if you're prepared to pay the extra cost for it.

Is the Peugeot Partner PureTech petrol any good?

The PureTech 110 petrol is a 1.2-litre turbocharged engine with 110hp (5,500rpm) and 205Nm (1,750rpm), and is likely to prove a more niche choice than the diesels, which offer greater long-distance fuel economy and more torque.

However, the petrol could make sense to those using the Partner mostly in town, as petrol is better suited to short journeys than diesel, and should be cleaner in terms of harmful particulate emissions, too.

It’s an eager engine, and though it needs to be revved, it’s surprisingly capable of dragging itself up a hill thanks to remarkably strong pulling power. That said, it does become a little gruff when driven hard, and it will require quite a bit of gearchanging to ensure swift progress at all times.

What's it like to use the small steering wheel in the Peugeot Partner?

On the road, the Partner provides good visibility and tidy handling, which helps prevent it seeming too big or cumbersome on tighter roads, whether that’s in town or on a twisty lane.

The steering is light and quick to respond to inputs, which makes manoeuvres easy. Much of this is down to the small steering wheel, which delivers quite a darty sensation when turning.

This can seem slightly odd at first, however, and you may find yourself turning too much initially. You’ll quickly get used to it in everyday driving, but there's no doubt the alternative Citroen and Vauxhall versions of this same van, which feature conventionally sized steering wheels, both feel a little more natural.

How comfortable is the Peugeot Partner?

It’s a comfortable van, with good seats and a compliant ride – but it’s worth bearing in mind that the diesels, particularly the BlueHDi 130, seemed to ride better than the petrol over imperfections in the road surface when we drove them back to back.

Higher-spec models come with greater levels of insulation around the windscreen and windows, making them delightfully quieter. But the engines aren’t especially noisy anyway, only becoming uncomfortably loud when you’re really revving them. That’s unlikely to be an issue for most, and the rest of the time it’s a refined van that does well to isolate engine sound from the cab.

Wind noise around the large door mirrors is noticeable, but at least visibility is good.

Peugeot Partner cabin & interior

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Controversial i-Cockpit dashboard design
  • Still lots of storage in the cabin
  • Comfy seats and good refinement

Behind the wheel of the Peugeot Partner is where you'll notice the biggest difference between this and the Citroen and Vauxhall equivalents.

What's i-Cockpit all about?

The Partner is the first of Peugeot’s vans to feature a version of the company’s i-Cockpit interior design. That means it has a smaller-than-average steering wheel and an instrument panel that sits higher on the dashboard than a conventional set of dials.

Peugeot Partner van review - 2019 model, i-Cockpit cab interior

In its cars, Peugeot says this promotes a sportier feel, but we’re not sure it’s as effective on a commercial vehicle. It takes a little longer to get comfy and settled due to this set-up, and as you sit higher up in this van than you would in a car, it can feel a little unnatural. Taller drivers may also struggle with the steering wheel so close to their knees, while the top of the steering wheel can obscure the dials slightly for others.

In short, it’s not as easy to jump in and drive as the Combo or Berlingo – we found we had to stop and tweak and fiddle with the steering column to get it just right, whereas there were no such issues with the others.

Plenty of storage space inside

The above aside, the interior layout is the same as its sister vans, with a large touchscreen infotainment system sitting proud of the dashboard and angled slightly towards the driver, meaning it falls to hand easily.

The air-con controls look a little tucked away – which they are – and can be a little fiddly to operate quickly on the move as they’re also quite small and low down.

Storage is good, though, with a large shelf above the seats, a box on the dashboard where the airbag used to live (it’s now in the roof), a small area beneath the dials and a place for your phone by the gearlever. The door bins are also large, while a pair of cupholders flank the dashboard by the windows.

High-tech features - but do they work?

We've already noted the touchscreen. But though it looks nice and modern, this can be a bit fiddly to use on the move, as it's not the most responsive thing and the software isn't as intuitive as some rival systems (such as those fitted in Volkswagen vans, for example).

Among the optional upgrades is the Surround Rear Vision package (standard on top-spec Asphalt models).

Peugeot Partner van review - 2019 model, Rear Surround Vision camera system screen

This is a camera system that offers a permanent view of the road behind via a screen where the rear-view mirror would traditionally live. You can also press a button to see a view down the passenger-side of the van, which is an effort to eliminate a blindspot.

The resolution on these cameras isn't very impressive, though, and they're not very good at dusk or in the dark (especially the side view one), so we'd probably suggeset spending the money on a set of conventional blindspot monitors instead.

The Partner was also launched with much fanfare about a built-in overload sensor - called the Overload Indicator - intended to prevent drivers accidentally breaking the law by loading too much stuff in side. However, we're yet to see a functioning demonstration of this system...

Peugeot Partner running costs & value

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Diesels all claim impressive economy
  • CO2 emissions pleasingly low
  • Should prove cheap to run

Most small vans promise good running costs, and the Peugeot Partner is one of the most modern designs around, with strong efficiency one of major selling points.

Peugeot Partner mpg

On a par with its sister vans the Berlingo and Combo, the Partner boasted impressive claimed fuel economy and pleasingly low CO2 emissions figures for its diesel engines at launch in January 2019:

  • BlueHDi 75 (1.6-litre) : 64.2mpg / 114g/km CO2
  • BlueHDi 100 (1.6-litre) : 61.4-67.3mpg / 109-119g/km CO2
  • BlueHDi 130 (1.5-litre) : 64.2-65.7mpg / 113-116g/km CO2

However, the introduction of newer emissions regulations in September 2019 has also seen a change in the way fuel economy is measured, with the new WLTP testing regime supposedly more realistic.

As a result, on-paper fuel economy figures appear to have fallen for the newest engines and now (as of October 2019) look like this:

  • BlueHDi 75 (1.5-litre) : 45.6-51.4mpg / 111-116g/km CO2
  • BlueHDi 100 (1.5-litre) : 46.3-54.0mpg / 110-113g/km CO2
  • BlueHDi 130 (1.5-litre) : 42.8-50.8mpg / 114-117g/km CO2
  • PureTech 110 (1.2-litre petrol) : 36.7-44.1mpg / 121-125g/km CO2

In reality, these vans will be just as efficient as they've always been. You should still take official fuel economy figures as the lab-based results they are, however, and expect to get fewer miles-per-gallon out in the real world.

All diesel Partners have a 17-litre AdBlue tank for emission purposes, which will require topping up as you drive.

Peugeot Partner service intervals

Service intervals are 15,000 miles / one year for the 1.6-litre BlueHDi 75 and 100 engines, moving to 25,000 miles and two years for the newer 1.6-litre BlueHDi engines.

As with most modern vans, these are variable intervals, so if the vehicle detects that the oild is getting a little tired it will alert you that a service is required, even if it comes sooner than the official periods suggest it should.

Peugeot Partner warranty

The Partner is covered by a three-year / 100,000-mile warranty.

Peugeot Partner trim levels and equipment

The line-up kicks off with the Peugeot Partner S, which includes the following standard equipment highlights (at time of writing in October 2019):

  • Remote central locking with deadlocks and separate cab locking
  • Full bulkhead
  • Driver’s airbag
  • Electric front windows and door mirrors
  • Two individual front seats
  • Automatic headlights
  • DAB radio
  • Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in
  • Head-up display
  • 12v socket
  • Unglazed asymmetric rear doors and nearside sliding door (Standard length) or twin sliding doors (Long length)
  • Overheard storage shelf
  • Six tie-down hooks in load area

The work-site orientated Peugeot Partner Grip adds the following standard equipment highlights over the S:

  • Automatic electronic parking brake
  • Grip Control traction control system with hill-descent control
  • Underbody protection
  • 30mm increased ground clearance
  • Mud and snow tyres
  • 16-inch steel wheels
  • Overload indicator
  • Tyre pressure monitor
  • Driver's seat with height and lumber adjustment
  • Multi-Flex modular folding passenger bench seat with load-through bulkhead and writing table
  • 230v socket
  • Front foglights
  • Four mid-height load securing rings in load bay
  • LED lighting in load area

Alternatively, the more on-road orientated Peugeot Partner Professional also takes the S as its base, adding these standard equipment highlights:

  • Air-conditioning
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Cruise control with variable speed limiter
  • Automatic electronic parking brake
  • Alarm
  • One-touch electric windows with electric heated door mirrors
  • Tyre pressure monitor
  • Driver's seat with height and lumber adjustment
  • Multi-Flex modular folding passenger bench seat with load-through bulkhead and writing table
  • 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
  • Front foglights

At the top of the range is the Peugeot Partner Asphalt, based on the Professional but with these additional highlights:

  • Comfort driver’s seat
  • Extra sound insulation
  • Automatic wipers
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Body-coloured rear bumper, mirrors, door handles and rubbing strips
  • Hard plastic floor protection
  • Peugeot Connect TomTom sat-nav system with voice recognition and multifunction steering wheel
  • Surround Rear Vision package with front and rear parking sensors plus rear and side (blindspot) cameras with dedicated 5.0-inch screen

Peugeot Partner reliability, common problems & faults

4 out of 5 4.0

The Partner uses mechanical components found in the previous-generation van, as well as newer parts found in many of the firm’s passenger cars; all should be tried-and-tested, so with few problems are expected.

With the van only launched in 2019, however, it's a little early to make any judgements about this.

If anything does go wrong, a comprehensive three-year warranty should keep you rolling.

Some of the company’s touchscreen systems can be a little slow to respond (as we’ve found), so make sure you’re on top of any software updates to keep this performing as quickly as possible.

>> The UK’s most reliable vans according to the FN50 reliability survey

Peugeot Partner safety & security

4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Up to 20 driver assistance systems…
  • … but most cost extra
  • Clever camera systems and secure door hinges

This is a very modern van, and it is available with plenty of modern safety features.

Peugeot Partner safety equipment

As with its Citroen Berlingo partner (ahem), the Peugeot comes with up to 20 driver assistance and safety systems, albeit most available via the options list.

These include:

  • Electronic stability control (standard)
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop and go function
  • Active lane-departure warning
  • Driver attention alert
  • Coffee break alert
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Blindspot monitoring
  • Distance alert
  • Active safety brake
  • Automatic high beam
  • Cornering lights
  • Hill-start assist
  • Side park assist
  • Reversing camera
  • Trailer stability control
  • Grip Control with Hill Descent Assist (on certain models)
  • Overload indicator
  • Surround rear vision

Many of these will make life a lot easier on the road, including the Surround Rear Vision package (discussed in detail in the Interior section of this review), which boosts visibility at the back of the van where there would normally be blindspots and difficulty judging the rear corners.

Similarly, the Overload Indicator has a warning light to let you know when the van is nearly at its loading limit, which then changes colour when the limit is exceeded. We're yet to test this to see how well it works, though.

In theory this will not only make the Partner safer for the person driving it, it’ll also avoid fines from the police related to driving an overloaded van.

Peugeot Partner security

In terms of security, an alarm is available (not standard on all models) while the rear door hinges have been moved so they’re hidden when the doors are shut. This makes it much more difficult for potential thieves to break into the van.

The remote locking - which is standard on all models - has a feature that allows you to only unlock the cab or the load area, too.

Which Peugeot Partner is best for me?

Still struggling to work out which Peugeot Partner is best for you? Maybe the following will help.

Best Peugeot Partner for running costs

The BlueHDi 100 versions typically offer the most competitive running costs - the extra power makes them less stressed on the road, reducing fuel consumption - though exact mpg varies with trim level and payload. For example, Grip models will likely prove less efficient than others due to their mud and snow tyres and raised ride height.

All BlueHDi engines aside from the 75hp model come with stop-start as standard, which goes some way to increasing fuel economy and reducing emissions.

Best Peugeot Partner for payload

The Partner has payload potential of over 1,000kg on some models - that's a whole tonne, a huge amount for a small van. Look for examples with 1000 in the model name for maximum strength, though note that not all of these quite make the make the magic one-tonne mark.

See our dedicated Peugeot Partner Dimensions page for more details.

Best Peugeot Partner for value/standard equipment

If you don’t care about any car-like features or luxuries, the entry-level S will do the job.

However, if you want more engine options, the Professional is a better bet, with every motor available in a variety of payloads, plus a large amount of standard kit.

Grip models are best if you need something a tougher; top-spec Asphalt models are well equipped and refined, but quite pricey.

Best Peugeot Partner for image

The Asphalt is the most car-like of the line-up, with a long list of fitted kit that increases driving comfort.

This is the one to go for if you’re spending a lot of time behind the wheel, as all of those bits will add up to a more pleasant driving experience.

It also has the least van-like look, with attractive alloy wheels and more colour options.

Most popular Peugeot Partner engine

The BlueHDi 100 is the most popular engine available in the Partner - not only does it offer a good blend of performance and fuel economy, it's available with every trim level and in both body lengths.

However, for us the most versatile engine is the BlueHDi 130, making light work of long journeys. Plus it’s the only one available with an automatic gearbox (if that’s what you want or need).

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