By on 2018-10-08 -
PEUGEOT'S Rifter SUV looks like it's based on a van but in fact it is new from the ground up and as versatile family transport, it gives the other major players quite a headache.
On a drive through the Cotswolds, I found it comfortable and refined - airy and spacious in a way that few others can match.
It takes over from the Partner Tepee, but has moved the whole idea of the truly practical SUV forward, with new engines and a new cockpit layout based on that in the 208 and 308, plus short and long wheelbase versions with either five or seven seats.
Just two engines are available but in a total of five states of tune.
The petrols are both the excellent 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder turbo used across the Peugeot range - a 110bhp version with a manual six speed box, or a 130bhp version with a standard eight speed automatic.
The company's new 1.5 diesel is the other option, in BlueHDi 75, 100 or 130bhp power outputs.
The two lower output versions come with a five speed manual box, while the 130 has either a six speed manual or the same eight speed auto used in the petrol.
I managed to drive both the 100 and 130bhp diesels at the launch and liked the feel of them.
Despite high sides, strong winds didn't affect them too much and the suspension is set to give maximum comfort - which is exactly what such a vehicle should have.
Yet Peugeot has built-in enough anti-roll to keep the cornering reasonably flat, and this helps to give excellent grip and safety.
The power steering is positive and direct, giving decent feel on the move, and it also gives a very tight turning circle, which helps tremendously when parking and manoeuvring.
Performance in the 100bhp Blue HDi is best described as adequate for the majority of eventualities, but as with the 130, the engine is very refined, smooth and quiet even when pressed hard.
The 130 improves performance markedly - as you would expect, without ever becoming in any way startling.
Practicality is excellent, with plenty of interior space front and rear, easy sliding rear doors, a large tailgate that doubles as a rain cover for bad weather, and a massive boot that must be the biggest in class.
The interior comes with Peugeot's i-Cockpit design, but without the digital instruments available in other models that can be changed to suit the driver's taste and whim.
The instruments are above the dash in a cowl, and are viewed outside a small multi-function steering wheel, with flat top and bottom.
It's a system that works well with the high driving position, and there's plenty of seat and column adjustment to make sure every size of driver can see properly.
An eight inch colour touch screen is angled towards the driver and is used for most functions such as DAB radio, climate control and sat nav.
And latest technological advances such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and an optional reversing camera are all included.
Fuel economy ranges from 51.4 to the gallon for the PureTech models to 68.9mpg at best for the diesels. Emissions run from 126 to 109g/km.
Prices start from £19,650 for a Rifter in Active trim to £24,270 for the top GT Line.
The Rifter might look much the same as the Partner it replaces but it is way more advanced and should be right up there on anyone's list with the best in class.
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