Review: Peugeot Rifter
The Peugeot Rifter is practical, spacious, and with enough performance to satisfy the people who will gravitate towards it. Oh and it's not a van, it's a lifestyle activity vehicle...
The new Rifter definitely isn’t based on a van, says Peugeot. In fact it shares quite a bit of its mechanical parts with the Peugeot 3008 SUV, but then platform sharing can stretch a long way. The bottom line is that it’s a big, square, van-like shape, and no amount of proclaiming it’s not will work.
Is that a problem? Well, no. While the consumer market shifts inexorably towards the SUV, there’s strong trend at the other side for something less interesting and far more useable.
Thanks to some extremely flexible seating options, and a capacious squared off interior, it’s possible to actually squeeze a kayak inside
It’s there where the Rifter sits, alongside the likes of the Ford Tourneo Connect, Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life, Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo Life. The latter two are important, as they’re all but identical to the Peugeot thanks to the fact they all come via Groupe PSA.
Sticking some roof rails on top, black plastic cladding, and that distinctive Peugeot grille at the front softens the lines a little, helping to put thoughts of vans into the distance. The Rifter looks tough enough to cope with family life, and wouldn’t look out of place with a kayak strapped to the top.
Not that you’d need to resort to that. Thanks to some extremely flexible seating options, and a capacious squared off interior, it’s possible to actually squeeze a kayak inside, running from the boot over the folded-flat rear seats and the folded forward front passenger seat as the above picture attests. It’ll certainly mean there’s enough room in the Rifter for a never-ending trip to Ikea.
So, it’s practical. I think that point has been made. It’s also not bad to drive, thanks to sharing a platform with much of the normal Peugeot range.
Peugeot has moved the interior ambience away from the van-like styling of its siblings by bringing in the i-Cockpit system. This places some stylish dials hgh up on the dashboard, with a tiny steering wheel sitting below. It works well throughout most of the Peugeot range, and adds a real sense of quality and design to the interior of the Rifter.
The usual Peugeot infotainment screen sits on top of the centre stack, offering a stylish and fairly easy to use system to control the audio, navigation, vehicle settings and so on. Pleasingly, there’s a proper volume dial for the audio, and some actual switches and rockers to work the heating and ventilation, making adjustments when on the go far easier.
Rifter drivers are unlikely to want race-car handling and performance, so the 101hp the engine produces is likely to be enough.
There are countless cubbyholes dotted around the cabin too, further enhancing the practicality-at-all-costs brief of the Rifter. Added up, there’s apparently 180 litres of extra storage in there, which is more than you’ll find in the boot of some small hatchbacks. The boot of the Rifter is a massive 775 litres, extending to 3,000 litres with all the seats folded down.
So, it’s practical. I think that point has been made. It’s also not bad to drive, thanks to sharing a platform with much of the normal Peugeot range. Yes, there’s some body roll as you turn, that tall shape leaning in corners that other, more traditionally shaped cars would pass through flat, but it’s not alarming in any way. It also turns, accelerates and stops in a pretty reasonable way, although it’s never going to excite you.
That’s not helped by the 1.5-litre diesel engine fitted to this test model. It’s not a bad engine by any measure, but it doesn’t add anything exciting. Fortunately, Rifter drivers are unlikely to want race-car handling and performance, so the 101hp the engine produces is likely to be enough. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, it’s enough to move the car to 62mph in 12.5 seconds, while returning an impressive 65.7mpg.
That’s enough to cruise the motorway in comfort, without spending a fortune on fuel. You’ll be able to load it to the gunwales with whatever counts as leisure stuff and still enjoy a high level of standard equipment (including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and, happily, safety equipment. You, your family and your surfboard will thank you for being this sensible.
Quick stats: Peugeot Rifter Allure 1.5L BlueHDi 100 Standard
Lease price: £200-500 per month
Top speed: 109 mph
0-62 mph: 12.5 seconds
Official economy: 65.7 mpg
CO2 emissions: 113 g/km
Car tax: £140
Torque: 250 Nm