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First drive: Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.

First drive: Peugeot Rifter
Peugeot gives its van-derived MPV a nifty new name and SUV-inspired looks.


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Peugeot Rifter

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Peugeot reinvigorates its commercial vehicle-based compact MPV for a third generation, giving it a lifestyle-type moniker - Rifter - and imbuing some of its current SUV styling on the 'van with windows' formula. The resulting machine is a practical, intelligent and likeable creation, although it does kind of leave us wondering what the wider PSA product strategy is right now...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Peugeot Rifter PureTech 110 Allure
Pricing: Rifter from 19,650
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door MPV
CO2 emissions: 126g/km (VED 165 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 51.4mpg
Top speed: 105mph
0-62mph: 11.7 seconds
Power: 110hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 1,750rpm

What's this?

The Peugeot Rifter, an artist formerly known as the Partner Tepee. The Peugeot Partner van lives on, as does the Citroen Berlingo, which has been the sister vehicle to the Pugs since they both launched way back in 1996. This time, however, Peugeot felt the need to disassociate the civilian version of its take on the small MPV more clearly from the workhorse, so Rifter it is. The name, incidentally, is simply a made-up word designed to invoke ideas of adventure and far-off places. And not the suburbs of Kettering, for example.

In order to further define the Rifter as something more than a mere panel van with some windows bolted in, Peugeot has looked to its superb range of SUVs (the ones with the double-0 badges - no, we don't mean secret agents with a licence to kill, rather the excellent 2008, 3008 and 5008 models) for inspiration. That means the Rifter has chunky lower bumpers, chamfered window lines, neatly integrated roof rails, a more horizontal bonnet and the sort of quality detailing that is the preserve of the premium crossover world. To a degree, it works, as the Peugeot MPV is a reasonably stylish contrivance, especially in range-topping GT-Line guise, but it remains a tall, relatively narrow thing that will inevitably draw some denigrating 'Postman Pat' comments from detractors. In truth, its commercial origins are not entirely disguised - as van-MPVs go, it's one of the more aesthetically-pleasing creations, albeit it's a long way from what you'd call handsome.

Inside, the iCockpit arrangement has been adopted, so that means teeny-weeny steering wheel and high-mounted instrument cluster, but this latter item isn't the digital affair as seen in the 3008 and all-new 508. Instead, analogue dials flank an LCD display screen, which works well enough. The cabin is light and airy, and there's a nice, semi-command seating position, although the distended bases of the A-pillars do present something of a front visibility issue; it's a minor one, as long as you're of the taller persuasion. What's of more annoyance is the quality of some of the plastics, which are a little flimsy and badly mis-matched in places, nowhere more so than under that ledge on the passenger-side dash, where three different finishes all come together... and it's not a happy union. Automatic models also gain a rather clacky rotary dial for the shift mechanism, which is a far cry from the solidity of the similar device in a Jaguar Land Rover product.

Practicality, though, is through the Rifter's high-rise roof. It has sliding rear doors for easy access, a second row of individually sliding and folding seats, the option to have another two chairs in the back of this launch short-wheelbase model (4.4 metres, with a 4.75-metre long-wheelbase Rifter due to arrive in 2019) so that six passengers may be carried on board, a positively van-like boot (we wonder why that is...?) that can swallow at least 775 litres of stuff, up to 3,500 litres of cargo capacity if the driver doesn't need to transport any humans beyond themselves, and a vast array of hidden and on-show interior storage options that can total up to a further 92 litres, including 14 litres in the roof. Yes, the roof. If you specify the Zenith option overhead, this brings in a fixed panoramic glass panel up top, complete with an electric blind, and then a hanging, side-lit 'bow' into which various odds and sods can be thrown. There are also multiple USB, AUX and 220V sockets dotted about the place.

A quick word on the UK line-up. Here, we'll get the SWB as a five-seater only and the LWB as a seven-seater. Engines are a 1.5-litre BlueHDi four-cylinder turbodiesel or a 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder turbocharged petrol. The former comes in 75-, 100- and 130hp guises, with some uncertainty as to whether the 75hp will make it to the UK (it shows on the price lists but may not be taken up), while the latter has either 110- or 130hp. A clunky five-speed manual is found on the 75- and 100hp diesels, whereas a slicker six-speed item is the standard equipment for the 110hp PureTech and the 130hp BlueHDi. This most powerful diesel can have the new EAT8 automatic transmission as an option, while the eight-speed self-shifter is standard-fit on the 130hp PureTech.

Trim lines will run Active, Allure and GT-Line, with the first of these a very utilitarian spec with black plastic bumpers and 16-inch steel wheels. Most will therefore option up the Allure. Equipment levels are good across the board, while safety features (standard and optional) will now include Automatic Emergency Braking System, Trailer Sway Mitigation, Driver Attention Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Speed Limit Recognition, Peugeot Smartbeam Assistance, and Peugeot Connect SOS and Assistance. So you don't have to cut back on the luxuries for having the Rifter. Prices for the entire range have yet to be finalised, but what we do know is the cheapest confirmed Rifter weighs in at 19,650, while the priciest is a smidge beyond the 24,000 mark.

How does it drive?

Like you might expect of something that was born of a van. The Rifter is no handling doyen, nor do any of the engines provided propel it along the road like some sort of hot hatch in boxy drag (Kia Soul Sport, we're looking at you...). But what the Rifter does do well - and this is ideal for an MPV, a type of vehicle that frequently carries children - is drive in a refined and laid-back fashion that makes it easy to get on with and very comfortable to ride within.

All of the major controls have a lightness of touch that's most endearing, so while you won't be raving about steering feedback, you will like the way the car's front end responds cleanly and smoothly to wheel inputs. The ride is good, perhaps on the softer side of nicely controlled but never so bad as to have you wishing to make comparisons to waterbeds. Roll is quelled to a fine degree in corners, while the ride and noise suppression are both excellent. The six-speed manual in our test car was also a pleasure to operate, with a good throw and positive engagement; unlike the aforementioned five-speed unit, which we tried later in the day and spent about the first 15 minutes of dealing with it wondering if we'd got mild ligament damage in our right forearm, so horrid was the 'box's action. Avoid.

Back with the petrol model, the brakes are matched well to the whole driving experience of the Rifter and the shining star is the little PureTech engine, which - even in 110hp guise - feels just about spot on for the Peugeot MPV. It makes all the right noises when accelerating swiftly, while it has enough torque to mean constant stirring of the gearbox is not required, even in thicker traffic in towns. It also promotes a little less understeer than the heavier four-pot 130hp diesel, so although the derv-burner is going to be a good choice for people who do more than 10,000 miles per annum, in all other respects we'd advocate you go for the petrol and enjoy the sweeter drivetrain.

The Rifter was unsurprising to drive, then, having taken one look at its upright dimensions, but it was no less admirable because of that fact, so we kind of like the unpretentious way it goes about its business.


Our only issue with the Peugeot Rifter is the confusion it causes within the PSA ranks, compounded by the group's relatively recent acquisition of Vauxhall/Opel. Not so long ago, we were told that Citroen would be the MPV company, Peugeot would do the SUVs and DS would simply ramp up the luxury levels across the board. Yet, here we are, looking at a Citroen Berlingo in a Peugeot dress.

Which, if you boil it down, means that what you have here - if you can stop worrying about inter-brand product crossover within PSA - is a fine family MPV. It doesn't cost too much, it drives in an inoffensive and pleasant manner, there's a good range of toys and equipment on all models and it has the sort of practicality that more overtly attractive machines can only dream of. Therefore, the Rifter is well worth consideration if you've grown jaded at the thought of having to own a 5+2 SUV.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

5 5 5 5 5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 28 Jun 2018    - Peugeot road tests
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- Rifter images

2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.

2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.2018 Peugeot Rifter. Image by Peugeot.


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