Peugeot brought us its first really serious stab at the super-large luxury MPV market in the form of this model, the Traveller. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
Ten Second Review
This Peugeot Traveller might be fundamentally based on the marque's medium-sized Expert van but it's undeniably sophisticated as well as being light, airy, and seriously spacious, with room for up to 8 people. If anything, its commercial vehicle roots serve as a strength, the voluminous interior, tough build and uncomplicated design proving ideal for family buyers who'll happily shoulder the slight ride and refinement issues. There's a full-electric powertrain option too.
It's the age-old problem if you've a very large family and want an MPV. Even large examples of the People Carrying breed can't take much luggage if you fill all seven seats up with occupants. Which leaves you having to struggle with a roof box or fitting a trailer, neither of which you'll regularly want to be bothered by. The answer is a super-large MPV - one of those based on medium-sized vans. Typical entrants in this segment include Ford's Tourneo Custom or, if you've a little more to spend, Volkswagen's Caravelle or Mercedes' V-Class. The vehicle we look at here, Peugeot's Traveller, is one of the more recent entrant in this class, based on a design also shared with the Citroen SpaceTourer, the Vauxhall Vivaro Life and the Toyota Proace Verso.
The Traveller is based on the latest generation version of the French brand's Expert van, just as its predecessor was, that vehicle badged rather awkwardly as the 'Expert Tepee'. That was just an Expert LCV with seats, windows and a few extra niceties. Peugeot though, is telling us that this 8-seater Traveller model is more than that. Is it? Let's find out.
Engine choice in a Traveller model is pretty straightforward, provided you've a clear idea of the kind of work you want it to do. Sensibly, all the Euro6 combustion engines on offer are diesels and if your needs are mainly based around lighter people carrying duties and short distance urban work, then the entry-level 120hp 1.5-litre BlueHDi unit may well be quite sufficient, though you can only have it with a manual gearbox. For heavier payloads and longer journeys however, you'll be needing the 2.0-litre BlueHDi model which gives you a lot more pulling power and is available with 145 or 180bhp, the most powerful unit mated to the brand's efficient EAT6 auto transmission (which is optional on the 145hp variant). There's also an e-Traveller full-electric model with a 50kWh battery allowing for a 143 mile driving range.
A key factor behind the success of this vehicle's Expert Tepee predecessor was the way it remained compact and wieldy in the manner of smaller, more car-like MPVs from the class below. This model retains much of that same usability around town and will certainly ride much better thanks to more sophisticated suspension and a stiff EMP2 platform. Special wishbone filtering is provided to dampen the impacts from our country's terrible tarmac and the variable stiffness springs and shock absorbers should deliver decent levels of comfort whether the vehicle is loaded or unloaded. Peugeot also claims that refinement is much improved this time round. As before, there's the option of a Grip Control traction system. We also like the 'Driving time warning system' which flashes up a dash warning after two hours of uninterrupted driving at speeds of 40mph and above.
Design and Build
This Traveller certainly looks much more of a car-like thing than its Expert Tepee predecessor with its sharply angled windscreen and smart frontal treatment. Under the skin, this MPV utilises the acclaimed 'Efficient Modular Platform 2' (EMP2) as the basis to combine its relatively compact exterior dimensions with maximum roominess. Inside, this model can offer up to 8 spacious seats with up to 1,500 litres of boot space - or up to 4,900-litres of luggage space if you take out the removable seats.
Available in two defined lengths, 4.95-metre 'Standard' or 5.30-metre 'Long', the Traveller's height of 1.90m is low enough to guarantee entry into covered car parks - a relatively rare attribute in this segment. Plusher models get hands-free electric sliding side doors which can be activated with a wave of the foot.
The fascia's focal point is found with a centrally-situated 7-inch 'Peugeot Connect' colour touchscreen. It includes a 'Mirror Screen' feature, so you can duplicate your smartphone's display onto the monitor via either the 'Apple CarPlay' or the 'MirrorLink' 'Android Auto' systems. In the second row, where you get ample knee, shoulder and head room, there's a three-person rear bench mounted on rails so it can slide backwards and forwards. Once you're in the third row, you'll be reminded just why medium-sized vans make such a great starting point for a properly large family-sized MPV. Instead of being crammed in cattle-class, as you would be in even the largest car-based People Carriers, there's more than enough space here for arms, legs and heads.
Market and Model
Think in terms of a £38,000-£47,000 price point for combustion engine versions of this Peugeot Traveller - or £49,000-£554,00 if you're seeking the full-electric e-Traveller version. Either way, there are two spec levels ('Active' and 'Allure'). And two body lengths (4.95-metre 'Standard' and 5.30-metre 'Long'). Allow an £840 premium to get the longer body length. All variants are configured as 8-seaters.
Inside, all models get a 7" infotainment touch-screen. This setup's voice recognition provides additional security for using the Navigation, Telephone and Media features without taking eyes off the road. Traveller buyers can also specify sophisticated connected 3D navigation as part of a package that includes TomTom Traffic real-time traffic information and, via Peugeot's 'Connect2' media package, access to information like the location and prices of service stations and car parks, weather forecasts and local search of points of interest. The Peugeot Connect Nav system also integrates a MirrorScreen function so that you can use functions from you smartphone on the centre dash 7-inch screen.
Electronic driving assistance devices include a 'driving time warning system', 'Driver Attention Alert', a 'Road sign reading with speed limit recommendation system' and an 'Active Safety Brake' set-up. You could also add 'Blind Spot Monitoring' and a 'VisioPark surround view camera system - both useful on a vehicle of this size.
Cost of Ownership
The Traveller's Euro6 engines have been chosen with operating costs rather than performance in mind and this will suit businesses as well as families with a firm grip on their finances. On to the WLTP figures. At the foot of the range, combined fuel economy is pegged at up to 46.5mpg on the combined cycle, along with up to 167g/km of CO2 for the 120hp 1.5-litre BlueHDi diesel model.
We'd want a little more power and would opt for the 2.0-litre version of this engine in 145bhp guise, in which form you're looking at up to 42.5mpg and up to 183g/km. Go for the 2.0-litre BlueHDi 180hp derivative and the figures are up to 42.2mpg and up to 184g/km.
What about the BEV e-Traveller model? Because the e-Traveller supports up to 100kW rapid charging technology, an 80 per cent charge will take just 30 minutes. This EV People Carrier also features a 7kW on-board charger as standard. A full charge from a 7.4kW domestic Wallbox takes 7 hours 30 minutes. With the alternative 11kW wallbox, you can reduce that to four and three-quarter hours. For peace of mind, the lithium-ion battery pack in this model comes with an eight year/100,000 mile warranty, for up to 70% of the initial battery capacity. To get close to the quoted 143 mile range figure, you'll need to engage 'Eco' mode frequently - which reduces power output to 80hp.
Bridging the gap between Peugeot's passenger car range and the marque's light commercial vehicle line-up, the Traveller has a big job on to convince the public of its large MPV credentials. In the past, seasoned industry observers had a well-practiced sneer held in reserve for any commercial vehicle that tried to pass itself off as a passenger car, but times have changed. Modern light vans have reached levels of sophistication that aren't a million miles away from the passenger car average and we've seen in the smaller van-based MPV sector that there is an eager market for affordable, utilitarian people carriers.
The Peugeot Traveller takes the voluminous interior of its commercial vehicle progenitor and does enough to make it presentable and comfortable for business or family usage. It also borrows the Expert van's mix and match range structure, giving excellent flexibility for customers to specify the vehicle in the way they want. With rugged build, competent driving dynamics, strong economy and attractive prices, it seems well-suited to its target markets and as a result, could well be worth a look for larger families.