Disadvantages: Basic equipment, interior finish
The compact Peugeot Bipper is an agile city van with neat handling and a large, resourceful boot.
Equipment levels and the interior are basic, but for cheap and cheerful small van ownership, it is ideal, especially for those on a budget. Choice is good while running costs and list prices are affordable.
Bipper was developed alongside the Fiat Fiorino and Citroen Nemo and, in the Peugeot van range, it nestles in between the smaller 207 Van and the more expensive Partner Origin.
Bipper’s cabin plastics are basic, but chunky and durable.
The audio and ventilation controls are neatly arranged and easy to use on the move. The large door mirrors aid visibility, though Bipper’s high dashboard and swooping nose make the front bumper tricky to judge.
It is comfortable for short spells at the wheel but the lack of seat adjustability could be a problem for taller or larger drivers over time. For a better driving position, the optional Comfort Pack includes an adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat.
Buyers can choose either a 73bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine or a 68bhp 1.4-litre diesel unit. There are just the two engine options for the Bipper.
The most significant is the impressive 1.4-litre HDi common rail turbodiesel unit also found under the bonnet of the 207.
For that matter it is basically the same engine that is used by Ford in the Fiesta Van. It produces maximum power at 4,000rpm and develops peak torque of 160Nm.
The little diesel is ideally suited to this vehicle and is a pleasure around town. Take it out on the motorway and it can comfortably sit at the legal speed limit.
For the record it has a CO2 exhaust emission figure of 119g/km. Besides, it is not known whether Peugeot will offer this engine in the UK, but if a customer wants one to convert to run on liquid petroleum gas there should not be a problem.
Bipper is front-wheel drive and comes with a five-speed manual transmission as standard, but there will be an optional five-speed automated manual box available.
It uses an electro-hydraulic control system and can be driven in either manual or automatic modes.
The diesel also comes with the option of electronically-controlled manual transmission for further convenience in the city plus reduced fuel consumption and lower emission.
With a load capacity of 2.5m3, Bipper slots in below the current Partner and despite its significantly smaller overall dimensions manages to match its gross payload at 610kg.
Bipper is still able to supply a useable load length of 1,523mm, a maximum height of 1,178mm and a width of 1,473mm.
If the optional folding passenger seat is specified, the load length is increased by close to a metre, effectively raising the load cube from 2.5m3 to 2.8m3.
Hydraulic power steering comes as standard with there being 2.8 turns lock-to-lock.
The Bipper has a pleasantly small turning circle of 10.2m between kerbs with the steering providing plenty of feedback with manoeuvrability that reaches an excellent level. The driving position is excellent too, helped by the adjustable steering column.
The load area is accessed via twin asymmetric side-hinged rear doors and there is the option of one or two sliding side doors for additional versatility.
It has to be said, however, that the aperture provided by these doors is a rather odd shape and may not prove to be particularly useful for loading and unloading boxes.
As is only expected nowadays, the load doors can be locked and unlocked separately from those of the cab, thanks to the three-button remote control. There is no denying that the Bipper has been designed to be a working tool from the outset and this is ably confirmed by the sensible and practical amount of storage space provided in the surprisingly roomy cab.
The only bit of criticism is that the lid of the glovebox has a tendency to hit the passenger's knees when dropped down.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, but the jury is still out on the folding passenger seat option.
It may be practical, but we are not convinced about its long-distance comfort quotient.
Despite that, the handling is about as good as it gets for a small front-wheel drive van and the ride settles down with a load on board.
Running costs should be very affordable, thanks to a combined cycle consumption figure of 63mpg and an 18,500-mile or two-year service interval.
Peugeot also points out that to further reduce costs the oil change and replacement of components such as the air, diesel and pollen filters, and the brake pads are scheduled to coincide with the service interval.
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