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Peugeot Rifter: ‘Built with adventures in mind’

The Guardian logo The Guardian 11/02/2019 Martin Love

Peugeot Rifter

Price from £20,240

Top speed 116mph

0-62mph 10.9 seconds

MPG 64.2

CO2 117g/km

© 2018 Anadolu Agency There’s a boy in the back seat of the car in front of us. Every now and again his hand appears out of the window, clutching a red Dinky toy. He makes the little car swoop up and down and swerve left and right, mirroring the movement of the big car he’s in. I can’t see his face, but I know it will be a picture of happy concentration. I know because it’s something I used to do. In fact, I probably spent hundreds of hours doing it.

Before a journey, I’d select the vehicle that would be coming along. If my parents told me to shut the window, I’d balance my little die-cast motor on the sill or park it carefully on the rear parcel shelf. Watching the boy in front fills me with nostalgia. I begin to feel almost tearful… But I am a grown-up. This is ridiculous. I’m actually driving a real car – and this is what I always dreamed of doing!

© 2018 Anadolu Agency

At this point I wish I could tell you I was driving some flashy cabriolet with a burbling engine and a sports exhaust. In fact, I’m at the wheel of the new Peugeot Rifter. But you know what, this is exactly the sort of car that little boy would love. It’s built with adventure in mind. It has sliding doors and a split tailgate. It has seven seats in three rows. It has an enormous boot and so much headroom even Amy Winehouse wouldn’t have worried about her beehive.

© Thomson Reuters

The Rifter (a name which seems to be part drifter and a grifter) is the replacement for Peugeot’s old Tepee – which is a better name as it conjures up campsites, smoky fires and outdoor escapades. Those with a less romantic outlook will think the Rifter looks like a van that has been retro-fitted as a passenger vehicle.

Those more attuned to the French whimsy of Peugeot will see it for what it is: “An all-new leisure activity vehicle with distinctive style.” In truth, it’s part van, part SUV and part MPV. That sounds confusing, but clamber in and it makes a lot of sense.

© 2018 Getty Images There’s a growing market for cars that can lead double lives: luggers by day, limos by night. Sales of pick-ups are on the rise, too, as people realise these utility vehicles mean you can chuck tools in the back on Saturday and mountain bikes on Sunday. The sliding rear doors make for easy access, the seats all fold flat (I was able to stretch out fully on the floor) and there’s a large tailgate with virtually no loading lip. 

As for creature comforts, there are electric windows, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Refinement is impressive, but the first impression you will have is the colossal amount of usable space. The central cubby between the front seats is so big you could chuck a pair of hiking boots into it.

© 2018 Getty Images There is a range of engines on offer, from a 109bhp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with automatic gearbox to a selection of larger diesel engines with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto. I drove the 1.5-litre 130bhp.

Don’t expect hair-raising performance, but this solid, punchy motor will work hard all day. Fuel economy of over 64mpg in a car this size is exceptional. Just what you need for those long-range adventures. And if you have a little person who will need to practise their car manoeuvres in the back, I can tell you the windows are enormous… Vrrrrruuuuummm! 

Gallery: These 20 cars just sold for £45 million [Classic & Sport Cars]

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