Peugeot Rifter MPV (2018 - ) review
Peugeot sprinkles a dash of SUV flavour into its van-derived family MPV, now called the Rifter. A charming, practical and comfortable machine, it challenges the Citroen Berlingo, Volkswagen Caddy Life, Fiat Doblo and other van-based MPVs.
Interested in buying a Peugeot Rifter?
How good does it look?
Peugeot has done a bit more than pop glass in the panel sides to make it look less like a commercial vehicle. Inspiration comes from the brand’s highly successful current SUV range, incorporating the 2008, 3008 and 5008. As such, the Rifter has chunky lower bumpers, cladding around its wheel arches and lower sections, and a more horizontal bonnet when viewed in profile. It remains a tall, high-sided vehicle that aesthetically won’t be to all tastes, but in essence it has neat and more appealing styling than Peugeot’s previous efforts in this market sector. A longer Rifter with more space on board will arrive in 2019 to supplement the standard version.
What's the interior like?
Some questionable plastics can be found within the Rifter’s cabin, but it’s a nicer place to sit and spend time than the old Partner Tepee. The rotary gear selector on the automatic models feels a little flimsy, and there’s an uncomfortable meeting of three different plastic trim finishes on the passenger-side console, but what lifts the Rifter is the adoption of Peugeot’s iCockpit concept. That means clear, attractive analogue dials flanking a digital screen that’s mounted high up, in the driver’s eyeline, without obstructing the road ahead.
Base Active models employ a DAB radio in a centre-console mounted add-on, but Allure and GT-Line versions of the Rifter are blessed with the eight-inch capacitive touch-screen infotainment. In this guise, the Peugeot’s cabin is most attractive and easy to use.
How practical is it?
This is the Peugeot Rifter’s strongest discipline. Its upright exterior dimensions lead to a vast cabin, even on the shorter-wheelbase version. Buyers can opt for five- or seven-seat configurations, while the second row of seats on most models are all individually sliding and folding items (except on the Active, where it’s a 60:40 split bench). The front passenger seat also folds flat, allowing items of three metres in length to be carried on board the long-wheelbase Rifter. Space in the optional third row of seats is tight in the standard car, but the long variant looks like it could carry seven tall adults on board with little difficulty.
Boot space starts at 775 litres with all seats in place, and rises to a simply vast 3,500 litres with all rear seats folded down, while the corresponding figures on the long model are 1,050 litres and up to 4,000 litres. The top-spec Rifter also enjoys a split tailgate, in which the rear windscreen can be opened on its own, if space behind the vehicle is tight, for example.
Additionally, there’s up to 92 litres of storage space in the cabin, in the form of door pockets, upper and lower gloveboxes, transmission tunnel stowage with a sliding cover, under-seat storage for the driver’s and row two’s seats and also the unusual Zenith roof – which brings in not only a panoramic expanse of fixed glass with an electrically sliding blind, but also a transparent, side-lit ‘bow’ in which 14 litres of space for odds and sods is available.
Besides this, there are multiple USB, 12-volt and 230-volt sockets dotted around the interior, as well as wireless smartphone charging as an option.
What's it like to drive?
The Rifter has perfectly adequate handling. It’s got necessarily light steering, a noticeable amount of body lean, and safety-led understeer. You’re not going to want to fling it around corners, but if you did, you wouldn’t buy a Rifter. However, the ride comfort is exceptionally good. The Rifter soaks up very poor road surfaces with aplomb and never overlays its driving manners with much in the way of wind and tyre noise, either. With light, well-judged controls and great visibility out in all directions (with the exception of the chunky bases of its front pillars, which might prove problematic in terms of blind spots for shorter drivers), the Rifter is good both in urban areas and out on open roads.
How powerful is it?
Peugeot offers two distinct engines in the Rifter: a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel and a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol, and then broadens the scope of the MPV by offering these in a variety of power outputs. The diesel is available with anything between 75 and 130 horsepower: the 75hp and 100hp models mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 130hp gets a six-speed manual with a new eight-speed automatic as an option.
Peugeot’s award-winning three-cylinder PureTech petrol engine is offered at launch with 110 horsepower and a six-speed manual, with a 130 horsepower automatic option coming in 2019. All engines are refined and quiet in operation, and there’s enough torque in even the lower-powered diesels for the MPV to make acceptable progress, but the 100 horsepower diesel is saddled with a very clunky throw for its gearbox. We’d advocate looking at the 110 horsepower petrol, which has a sweet and perky engine, as well as a much nicer gearshift for its six-speed gearbox.
How much will it cost me?
The Rifter should be reasonable to run and to tax. All official CO2 figures for the Rifter are between 109 and 114g/km for the diesels, and 126g/km for the petrol, while economy ranges from 65.7mpg to 68.9mpg with the diesel variants, and a respectable 51.4mpg for the petrol.
How reliable is it?
Peugeot as a brand is in the top 40 in the Warranty Direct Reliability Index and the old Partner Tepee has a very high rating, because it was a reasonably simple MPV based on a commercial vehicle (CV) – machines that need to be reliable. The Partner name lives on with the CV version of the Rifter, so there’s every likelihood the new MPV will continue to prove a dependable vehicle as a result. Every new Peugeot also comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with extensions available for fixed fees after that.
How safe is it?
Every Peugeot Rifter comes with at least six airbags (two in the front and four curtain airbags running along the sides of the cabin), anti-lock brakes, Electronic Braking Distribution, Emergency Braking Assistance, an Electronic Stability Programme, the Safety Pack (Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Limit Recognition and Active Safety Brake), three Isofix child fittings in the second row, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and cruise control with a speed limiter.
Options further up the range include Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Trailer Sway Mitigation System, Driver Attention Alert and Peugeot Smartbeam Assistance, so the Rifter doesn’t lose out on any safety as a result of being based on a CV.
How much equipment do I get?
There’s a three-tier trim line-up: Active, Allure and GT-Line. All Rifters will come with at least electric front windows, electric and heated door mirrors, air conditioning, a multifunction trip computer, Bluetooth, DAB, LED lights at the rear of the car, a leather steering wheel and the iCockpit cluster/steering wheel.
The Active is quite a basic-looking car with more black plastic on its lower sections, a simple interior and steel wheels. Therefore, most will want to check out the Allure, which loads in more luxuries that make the Rifter feel much more civilian – such as a predominantly body-coloured exterior, alloy wheels, the eight-inch Peugeot infotainment screen and system and parking sensors.
The GT-Line is the sportiest-looking Rifter and the range-topper, so it employs 17-inch alloy wheels, 3D satnav, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry and go.
The Peugeot Rifter is a refreshingly likeable and honest alternative to the ubiquitous SUV – even if it takes some of its styling cues from that type of vehicle. It has a clever and capacious cabin, smooth driving manners and a range of decent drivetrains to choose from. It should be cheap to run, easy to live with and great for families who need the maximum in practicality, while Peugeot’s attractive iCockpit cabin design makes the Rifter stand out against its key rivals.