The French word for ‘work-horse’ is ‘Chevalier de travail’. Considering that, ‘Rifter,’ as a name, is an unusual choice, as search engine results can reveal.
Whatever, this work-horse (or leisure activity vehicle as Peugeot calls it), is a fairly large car. Huge headroom makes it feel particularly spacious. It is a genuine five-seater, with good leg- and foot-room for an adult sitting in the middle of the rear row.
All around the inside is a whole variety of storage spaces, big and small, from the front ceiling downwards to under the seats. Aircraft-style tables mean two rear passengers can park their takeaway or tablet there. For connectivity, there are the usual possibilities for the driver and a socket each for two in the back.
The rear seat can be folded one, two and/or three forwards, enabling the already capacious boot even more capable of ferrying very sizeable bits of stuff. The boot area is equipped with a range of features to help store items efficiently, hooks, pockets and so on. It was only with reference to the handbook that how to lift up the main floor area became obvious…you can’t: a spare wheel was what I wanted to see, not a tube of goo, and, well done Peugeot, that’s what I found after reference to the handbook — no mention of ‘boot’ in the index, by the way — the spare is under the car.
The large tailgate (with an opening window, by the way, in the Allure versions upwards) is equipped with a pull-down strap, but it is quite an effort to shut in just one motion. You need to allow enough space behind the car for when you want to open up to load your purchases.
This could be said equally before driving for the first time, as I found to my cost. Although Peugeot’s advertising dwells upon the so-called intuitive i-Cockpit, thereby suggesting that you do NOT need to study the manual that closely, several queries came to mind as I drove along. Why do the automatic headlights come on as you find a darkish stretch of daytime road but not switch off when you’re back in a bright place? What you get is instruments and satnav so darkened that you can’t read them? Eventually, you spot a little row of press-switches below the main instruments that allow you, if you stretch forward, to brighten up the display. And, given that some roads are such that lane-departure warnings are a nuisance, when you eventually find the over-ride switch down by the door-front, you then get a warning light in the instrument display shining at you and making you feel wrong and guilty that you have disengaged the system.
Such matters are perhaps of minor importance; the Rifter as a whole is a versatile, easy-to-drive car that does pretty well everything the average driver will wish for except to look glamorous…not its role, after all!
The high driving position is a boon for visibility. The large exterior mirrors make up for the fact that the central rear seat head-rest blocks out a certain amount of the rear view from the interior mirror. Of course, though, that headrest is easily lowered.
Out on the road, the small, slightly elliptoid steering wheel feels a bit odd to start with, but that impression soon goes and the shape does ensure a clear view of the instruments.
The ride is nice and soft. Steering and handling are pleasant enough and the slick, quick gear-change is excellent. No complaints about the ride or softish-feeling brakes…and I liked the electric parking brake that’s part of the Allure specification. Also in Allure is its 8-inch touchscreen and voice-recognition; and halogen headlights for night driving, at which time the rather nice if slightly quirky bent main instrument needles will be noted.
The 1.5, 129 bhp diesel engine is willing and able, with an indicated overall 53.2 mpg (official combined consumption 65.7) returned after my five days in sometimes very slow, heavy traffic, being very satisfactory. After all, the Rifter does have a big frontal area to get through the wind; you do have to push fairly hard sometimes for brisk performance, but, if you do, it is willing enough, with 300 Nm of torque helping out from 1750 rpm. At 70 mph, the engine is totally unstretched at 2200 rpm in sixth gear. This engine could have been designed just for the motorway, so at ease was it.
What’s more, despite its sizeable frontal area, there was no wind noise or any feeling that the car was having to push against the elements. Zero-to-62 mph takes 10.4 seconds and mid-range performance was brisk enough. The engine never felt strained and was commendably refined.
The 50-litre tank should allow a useful range of around five hundred miles.
So what does it cost and is it value? The Rifter Allure as tested came out at £22,200 before options. You would then consider Peugeot’s deals and take it from there. Yes, it’s competitively-priced, even if there are relatively few of this type of vehicle on the market from other manufacturers. Overall: the Rifter, assuming it behaves itself, should prove to be a good family friend!
Car reviewed: Peugeot Rifter Allure Blue HDi 130, on the road price from £22,200 0-62mph 10.4secs Top speed 116mph Engine 1.5-litre 4 cylinder diesel Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 65.7mpg CO2 emissions 114g/km CO2 Max Power 128bhp Torque 250Nm@3000rpm Transmission 6-speed manual
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Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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