The Tepee? Has Peugeot hung out with Skoda for too long? Too many scout jokes for my liking!
Yes, yes. Ignore the silly name, and you have another of the growing breed of vans being geared up for carrying bodies not builders. Ford has been doing it for years with the Transit, but Peugeot is now getting in on the act with the Expert Tepee. Think of it as an MPV+. A people carrier for those with too many children to fit into a Renault Grand Espace or a Chrysler Grand Voyager. But can a car driver really stomach driving around in a van every day? Or should the Expert Tepee driver throw a copy of The Sun on the dashboard and wolf-whistle at passing women? Click 'Next' to find out...
So how van-like are we talking here?
Reset your expectations. The Tepee is clearly based on the Expert van - Peugeot isn't kidding anyone here. But it's adapted to have three rows of up to nine seats, accessed through sliding doors on either side and wide-opening front doors. It's easy to clamber in to the front two rows, and the sliding doors are a cinch to open, although they can require a hefty tug to pull shut. Alas, there's no electric operation, unlike on Peugeot's 807 MPV. To clamber into the third row, you'll need only minor gymnastic ability, tumbling the outside mid-row pews forwards, then jumping into the rearmost row. Once installed, each individually adjustable seat in the seven-seater we drove was very comfy even for adults; no cramped benches here. And one big win with the Expert is the ability to carry lots of people AND their luggage; even with nine seats in place, our long-wheelbase version can carry 770 litres (up to the parcel shelf), or a van-like 1239 litres to the roof. Agoraphobes beware. However, there's probably a good reason for Peugeot speccing its press cars as seven-seaters: the nine-seater option (with three rows of three) looks as if it could involve elbowing your fellow passengers in the guts too much for our liking. But we'd need to have a go first before making such a claim.
What's it like inside? I guess it'll stand up to cups of tea and builders' boots?
Oh yes, there's no mistaking the Expert's van origins. The plastics are tough and workmanlike, but it's really not too bad a place to sit. The driver's pew is set high offering a good vista of the road ahead, but we'd prefer more fore-aft adjustment; several drivers at CAR Online were left with aching legs after an hour's driving. You won't skimp on goodies, mind. Our Leisure spec model includes electric front windows, a CD player, air-con and - get this - a rear window demister and wiper. The Tepee is pretty utilitarian as standard, but Peugeot knows that it will have to pamper fecund parents trading up from their school-run MPVs and will offer you sat-nav packages (£1280), ESP (£352) and parking aids (£223). You'll need the latter - the Tepee is pretty big, measuring a multi-storey challenging 4805mm long. And that's the standard wheelbase. Ours was the echoey 5135mm long wheelbase version. But those bluff looks make it easy to slot into parking spaces.
Van-like to look at, van-like to drive?
You got it. But have you driven a modern van recently? Most manufacturers offer commercial vehicles that would humble a hatchback of 30 years ago, laden with the latest common-rail diesel engines and clever suspension tech to cope with heavy loads. So the Expert is a surprisingly handy device, all in all. It steers, stops and goes with impressive ease, although you'll never forget you're in a 1.7-tonne working vehicle. The brakes need a good prod to produce much retardation, but the 120bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel provides a brisk 225lb ft to make acceleration a cinch. We drove ours with all seven seats occupied - and a whole sports team's worth of kit bags - and it still kept up with everything else on the motorway.
Our long-wheelbase Expert Tepee cost £22,557, but had a scary four grand of extras fitted, denting much of its perceived value. But let's face facts - you won't consider one of these as a proper MPV alternative unless you need the extra space and ability to carry nine passengers and lots of luggage. If you regularly lug bodies and bags galore, the Expert is definitely worth a look. And if you spend idle hours hanging around at railway stations picking up a fare, you'll be able to afford some nice extras to disguise its van origins.