POSTMAN PAT, POSTMAN PAT…
The bright red Pug could be just what the doctor ordered to collect the stacks of delayed post. Ian Robertson grabs his black and white cat to test the new Bipper Tepee.
You’re looking at a car that Peugeot said it would never sell in the UK – The Bipper Tepee. The commercial van derivatives arrived earlier in the year, and this van with windows has been on sale in mainland Europe for some time, but the French firm was adamant that it wouldn’t sell the car on these shores. But with household budgets tight and value for money the order of the day, Peugeot has had a change of heart.
Resplendent in bright red, it’s not a million miles away from Postman Pat’s van. Yet climbing into the cabin, you can clearly see the commercial vehicle influences – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What you do get are sturdy materials, clearly built to last, coupled with an inordinate amount of practical cubby holes and storage places – many more than you’d find in your comparable hatch. Visibility is good, thanks to the upright driving position, large windscreen and side windows, while the drivers seat is well padded and comfortable. Those with mobility issues will find the Bipper ideal, thanks to the wide opening doors (sliding at the rear) and commanding driving position. Versatility is also a strong point – the seats split and fold 1/3 and 2/3, fold completely, or can be removed altogether. To give an idea of the sheer amount of luggage that a Bipper can swallow, we carried four people, four large suitcases, two large squashy bags, two small flight cases, a camera bag and a guitar, and with space to spare. We had our doubts as to whether it would all fit in, but needn’t have worried. All that we did was remove the rear parcel shelf, and fold down one third of the rear seat. Bingo! – everything fitted in perfectly.
For a van with windows, the Bipper is surprisingly fun to drive, with an almost go-kart like feel. Performance is leisurely at best, with just 68bhp available from the 1.4-litre HDi engine, but reasonably swift progress can be made in first and second gear, thanks to a positive and smooth action. Once you’re up to motorway speeds, the Peugeot cruises effortlessly, with low noise levels, and the ability to soak up bumps and undulations with aplomb.
Fuel economy is a strong point – the Bipper Tepee is capable of 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, while low CO2 emissions of 119g/km mean it will cost just £35 a year to tax. Insurance costs are low too, as the penny-pinching Pug falls into group two under the current UK insurance scheme, and group five under the new regulations from December 2009.
With a choice of two trim levels – S and Outdoor, it was the latter, more expensive version that we tested here. Equipment levels are pretty decent for a vanbased vehicle – all models get driver, passenger and side airbags, electric front windows, remote central locking, 15-inch wheels and a CD/radio with MP3 functionality. For an extra £800, Outdoor models gain air conditioning, front fog lights, roof bars, raised suspension, extra front trim and side body cladding.
RIVALS: CITROËN NEMO MULTISPACE 1.4HDi, FIAT QUBO 1.3 16V MULTIJET DYNAMIC
- Engine: 1399cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 68bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 120lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max towing weight: 600kg
- Max speed: 94mph
- 0-62mph: 18.7secs
- Combined consumption: 62.8mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 119g/km (C)
- Bootspace: 356/884litres
- Insurance group: 2
Space, unlimited cubby holes, good to drive, bags of room, versatile, built to last
Limited performance, van-with-windows looks may not suit everyone