Sunday, 14 August 2022

Peugeot’s a perfect Partner for life as a white van man

AND now, as our good friends from Monty Python might say, for something completely different. This week your correspondent has

AND now, as our good friends from Monty Python might say, for something completely different. This week your correspondent has been an honorary white van man.

Not the real thing at all, I hasten to add. Let’s say for accuracy’s sake I have been a small white van man. (Small to medium being the size of the vehicle as always I think of myself as of average height.)

Anyway, I’m not quite sure what brought this all on. It might have been a need to get in touch with my working class roots — the sort of Jeremy Corbyn effect (the bearded Islington North MP who has caused a stir this summer with his bid for the Labour party leadership).

My credentials are passable: before breaking into newspapers I spent more than two years labouring on building sites. As Thomas Hardy remarked, “the only real work”. My favourite was hod-carrying. Now that is hard graft.

So, the white van was duly delivered. It was a spanking new Peugeot Partner. The Partner in all its forms has a new look for 2015. The versions you will be more familiar with are those that are in effect purpose-built, small MPVs (multi-purpose-vehicles).

The Peugeot versions in this form are the Partner Tepee, the Extra Tepee Short and Extra Tepee Long. These types of cars are excellent value-for-money and very popular on the continent.

In Britain they are growing in number, but I think the self-conscious car-buying public here is a sucker for style. It could be argued that vehicles such as the Partner series are a tad too practical for UK motorists in general.

Having said that, there are a variety of these types of MPVs on the market. They all have their roots in the humble working van, which has become a familiar sight on our roads.

The ubiquitous white van and its driver have, of course, become a bit of a legend. As a private motorist I, like many others I’m sure, have voiced my criticisms of White Van Man.

Many, but not all I’m sure, seem to park exactly where they like, when they like, with little regard for anyone else on the road during the course of their working day. Pavements, shopfronts, special electrical power point parking spaces at motorway service stations — these are the daily haunts of White Van Man.

And at night, formerly quiet residential streets crammed with private cars are inhabited by white vans of all sizes at rest.

White Van Man is a phenomenon of the age — he even has his own dedicated page on Wikipedia. In his favour, it has to be said that at the end of the day he is only trying to do his job.

With that in mind and equipped with the aforementioned white van, I sallied forth on to our sunny August streets in this week’s drive — the 2015 Peugeot Partner Van SE HDi 92.

The first thing you notice about driving a van is that there is no rear view mirror placed reassuringly in the middle of the windscreen. The pampered among us might step back in horror. So how do you see out the back? By the wing mirrors, dummy.

This takes some getting used to but can be quite useful for ignoring annoying motorists that habitually tailgate. While your view is restricted, with practice you can be alert to all that is going on behind the van.

However, parking takes a bit more skill. You feel as if someone has blocked your view by dumping a very large (white of course) refrigerator behind the front seats to obscure your view. The parking aid on this van was essential.

One of the other elements of van driving is that you have to get used to cab noise. I am sure that over the years there has been great noise reduction in vans — and this new Peugeot is no exception. But the tinny, spacey effect on the ears is still there.

Surprisingly, though, during motorway driving road noise seems to level off. But make no mistake it is a lot different to road noise in your average car.

I put the van to good use. One of the major chores of any household today is getting rid of waste. Householders in Britain, according to the government, produced 30.5 million tonnes of waste in 2003-04.

Well, this man with a van decided to use the Partner to take a good van load of domestic rubbish that might not be collected by the binmen — garden waste, shredded documents, broken pots, old paint pots and the like — to the local recycling centre.

Now if you do this with a van or pick-up in the Cotswolds you have to book an appointment, which is easily done online. I turned up and got rid of all kinds of things we no longer needed in one white van swoop.

We also did one long motorway trip to Henley from Gloucestershire and back, which is not to be recommended for three people. There is in the front of the cab what Peugeot calls a “multi-flex dual passenger seat”. This in theory enables you to seat three in the front: but in reality the person in the middle does not have a comfortable ride. Maybe as far as private motorists are concerned the van should stay where it belongs as a commercial vehicle.

However, this white van proved very economical, useful and well made — and at a basic price of £14,000 does represent good value.

As a second family vehicle it might prove a useful possibility: the Partner van EV (electric vehicle) might be a even better prospect. It makes great sense to use an EV van to get around towns or cities. For firms I think that will be a must in future.

White van factfile

Peugeot Partner Van SE HDi 92

Basic price: £14,165 (£17,887 on the road)

Colour: Bianca White with blue/grey interior trim

Peugeot Connect USB with Bluetooth (£180)

Rear parking aid (£200)

Engine: diesel 1560cc (three engine options)

Choose between two body styles: Partner Panel Van and Partner Crew Van

Model levels: Professional, SE and S

You can save with Plug-in Van Grant, 20 per cent (up to maximum of £8,000) on the price of the Partner Electric

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