Peugeot could easily have adopted The Late Late Show phrase ”there is one for everyone in the audience” as three new models were launched at the Dublin headquarters – a stunning top executive fastback style 508 saloon, a Rifter MPV for space-conscious family/commercial buyers, and a new Partner van with state-of-the-art safety features.
Also revealed was that new diesel engines, with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and particulate filters which are compliant with Euro6 regulations, show a remarkable reduction in NOx emissions by more than 90pc and a 99.9pc reduction in particulates filtered. The forecasted end of diesel may be a long way off, based on this advance in technology.
Another major claim by Colin Sheridan of the Gowan Group, Peugeot distributors, is that the entry Rifter model which comes in two body lengths, has an entry price of €23,540 for the 1.5-litre 75bhp, giving it an €11,470 price advantage over the rrp entry price for the VW Caddy Life Trend 102bhp at €35,010 and a €5,490 advantage over the Ford Tourneo 1.5Tdci 75bhp at €29,030, the two leaders in the market here.
The star of the presentation was the 508, designed to take on the best of the German and Japanese luxury executive models. This is a step into the future for Peugeot, combining sportiness with elegance, thanks to the low setting and aggressive front end. There are four levels of trim and precise steering and a controlled suspension setting give an indication that, under pressure, it could take the rough with the smooth. It was silky smooth, with an exceptionally quiet cabin on a test drive to Cork, which was motorway driving only, so bumpy roads and cornering capabilities are for another day.
Top-end technology abounds with items such as an infra-red camera available for night vision which Peugeot says makes it easier to spot pedestrians and animals. There are lots of safety features, including a collision risk function which activates brakes if there is a lapse of attention. The i-cockpit is easy to use and comes with a 10-inch touchscreen. The 487-litre boot has hands-free access.
There are two 1.6 petrol engines on offer – 180bhp and 225bhp – and the super-clean diesel units range from 130-180bhp with manual or the new lightweight automatic transmission which requires no servicing and is claimed to beat the double clutch version in other models in the economy stakes. Prices range from €32,400 to €49,120.
The swing may be to SUV-design styles but the MPV still shows it has a place when it comes to versatility and utility. In the case of the new Rifter, you can add style, and even a touch of elegance, in a robust and in-your-face way. A short high bonnet and high ground clearance give it a stand-out appeal, but it still looks compact and neat for a five-to-seven seater. Some will even see car appeal here, with greater space for school runs and outdoor activities but it is stylish enough to sit in a driveway without giving away too much of its commercial origins.
Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to MPVs and twin sliding doors are a good introduction. The rear screen opens, so there is no need to lift the huge tailgate to pack in groceries. The two rear seats in the seven-seater version are removed with the click of a switch and the three individual rear (or middle row depending on the configuration) seats fold flat to extend the 775 litres of boot space to a huge 3,500 litres. There is also big storage area along the roof with cubby spaces in doors and centre console. The long wheel version has 48 possible seat configurations.
The Rifter has five engine options, two petrol and three diesel with the mid-range Allure priced at €25,570 and the GT version at €29,170 with very high specification. The top diesel 130bhp unit comes with a six-speed manual transmission and a newly developed highly economical eight-speed EAT8 automatic transmission with stop-start will soon be available.
The Rifter gives near-to saloon car driving comfort with a high driving position. The cabin is well insulated and the booming sound associated with this type of configuration has been eliminated. The high dash and small steering wheel are distinctive features and may not be to every taste.
The latest generation of the Partner small van won International Van of the Year 2019 award and is available with two important safety features. Surround Rear Vision displays the area around the vehicle via two cameras to allow the driver to see everything in his vicinity, even in a fully partitioned van, and for €135 an overload cargo indicator can be ordered which warns with lights and buzzers in the cabin and cargo area if there is an over-load danger. This is a great safety feature and should be a standard fitting on all vans, as an overload can easily lead to a loss of control.
The Partner now has a wider body and can accommodate two Euro Pallets, apparently an important feature, and payload has been increased to 1,000kg. Two body lengths are available and the starting price is €16,700.