At A Glance
Today I'm reviewing the Peugeot Boxer at the professional trim level. This trim means a lot more comfort in the cabin to go with all of that power under the bonnet. The first thing you may notice about this van is that it looks incredibly similar to the Citroen Relay. However, our Vanarama road test is going to show you that this van is, in fact, a completely different kettle of fish - (in a way)!
Exterior & Style
Let's get started where we always do - at the front. As I mentioned, it's quite familiar - the Citroen Relay and the Peugeot Boxer do look very alike, but that's because they platform share. The major difference is obviously the big Peugeot badge right at the front and the fact it has its name written on the top of the grill. This is also a new grill, specifically built for the Boxer. It sits on this 3-part front end which, as we discussed in the Citroen Relay review, is built like this to save you money. How does it do that, you ask? Well, if you damage one of the panels, you don't need to take the whole front of the vehicle off, you can just replace that one damaged panel. Neat!
I have to say, I do like the front end of this vehicle - the platform is very tough and durable and allows easy mounting of things like the headlight clusters. The big, bright halogen bulbs give you excellent visibility and I love how they sweep around the vehicle and go up to that little point - a nice feature from Peugeot.
The next thing you notice about this vehicle is the set of big, steely wheels - also very tough and durable which is definitely a running theme here! And nowhere is this durability more prevalent than on the wing mirrors made of tough black plastic and housing electrically adjustable indicators that are set into the sides.
When you take a step back, you can truly take in the scale of this vehicle. Whilst it's a large van, it's actually a little bit shorter than you'd expect. That's because it's an L3 H2 version, which means it's just under the highest version and just a little bit shorter than the longest version. This is actually the kind of size that most tradespeople prefer, because a shorter vehicle means a higher payload!
Inside The Peugeot Boxer
Stepping inside the Boxer and my first impressions are that all that tough durability from outside has been extended inside too. There's a lot of very tough, black plastic and the durable fabric all across the cabin. There's also some colour in here - a little bit of red and blue adds personality and breaks up the normal monotone interior.
So let's start at the steering wheel and yes, you've guessed it, it's tough and durable! Made from black plastic again, it has some basic controls on either side including your phone controls on the right hand side and your volume and voice controls on the left. There's great grip on the wheel too - I don't think that's going to be slipping out of your hands if you try to take a very tight corner. Behind the wheel, you've got some stalks including cruise control and your speed limiter. All very handy and easy to use.
Looking through the steering wheel, you'll find a very clear, basic dashboard which has a nice big driver information display in the middle. It uses simple orange text on a black background which makes it very clear and includes everything you'd expect to see.
One of my favourite features of this series of vans is the clipboard that pops out at the top of the infotainment system. This is a great feature if you've got some directions or you've got a digital device which you can have running whilst you're driving. Or, if you've got some order forms, you can just shove them in there and they won't be going anywhere. I like how it pops in and out and then sits back down flush on top of the radio - another nice touch.
Just below this, you'll notice a slot for a CD! How very '90s - it's very cool and very kitsch to have something like that in here. On the display there's also a TFT touchscreen where you can access all sorts of stuff. The Peugeot system is quite basic but it's very functional. Features include a radio, media and satellite navigation. You can also hook up your phone by USB or bluetooth, which is always handy.
Below this section you've got your defrost button and your climate controls. You can control fan speed, temperature, direction of airflow and how it's flowing - whether it's being circulated or it's just coming straight in. Below that you've got your hazard light which is a big flash of red and nice to see in a dark interior just like this.
Moving onto the gearstick, which is one of my favourites - it's very easy to use and I like that it's console-mounted so there's no awkward knee fondling. Below that you've got some of the best cup holders I've ever seen. And if you're a regular reader, you know how much I like a cup holder! This is something you only get at the professional trim level - it's called 'phone and drink storage' and can fit a 1-litre bottle in there nicely - that's not going anywhere. There is also a little pocket where you can stick your phone. Excellent!
Moving onto the other available storage and above the passenger seats there's some storage plus a flip-top up on the dash too. Because it has air conditioning as standard, it means that this little compartment stays very cool. You can stick your sandwich or your drink in there and it will stay very nice and cool while you're on the road.
There's also a nice little cubby with a lip - some vehicles I've seen these days don't have this lip at the end so when you put something in the cubby and take a tight corner it just slides out the side. With this one, nothing is going to come out of there! Below that you've got a very nice little glovebox. There's not a whole lot of room in there I've got to say, I'd expect to see something a little bit bigger in a vehicle of this size, but you'll be able to fit your manual, your locking wheel nuts and your AdBlue filler in there absolutely no problem.
The final thing I am loving about the interior on the Boxer is what you get just under the middle seat - it's sort of a mobile office. There's some cup holders and it's also got a little clip for holding documents in place. And it's nice to see something solid being used as a clip,in some vehicles these days you just get a kind of elastic bungee cord over the centre which they tend to come out of the sides whereas this I think is probably going to stay exactly where it is. There's also some coat hooks which just add to the very practical interior.
Loadspace and Exterior
When you get into the back of this vehicle the first thing you notice is the gigantic doors - they're 1.8 metres high and both of them open up to the standard 90 degrees. Just on the inside they've got these little convenient buttons to allow you to open them up to a full 180 degree which gives you full access - so that 1.6 metre wide aperture. In the L3 H2 version, the vehicle's loading bay is nearly 4 metres long and height wise just over 2 metres high. I've got lots of clearance above my head and at its widest, the vehicle is 1.8 metres wide and that sims to just about 1.4 metres between the arches.
There's also some lovely ply lining and lashing points on the floor and the sides and If we track round to the side sliding door, you'll see that these doors are around 0.7 metres high and 1.5 metres wide. This means you'll be able to get pallets in from the side door and the back doors too which is what makes this van very functional and really sets it apart from its competition!
Driving Experience & On The Road
So, let's see how this bad boy handles the tarmac! Just like the Citroen Relay, the driving position is very nice and high. The massive great big windscreen gives you superb visibility out the front of the vehicle too, which I like it a lot. Driving a large van is well, great - I've said it before and I'll say it again - driving a big van makes me feel like a big man! This shared platform is one of my favourites - very tough, very high-performing and very durable. The Peugeot is also capable of carrying very impressive payloads, especially with vehicles that are usually at the higher height and would not necessarily be able to take as much weight. It's funny actually, it's only when this vehicle gets longer that you really have to make any compromise on payload, whereas when you get a higher version of the vehicle, payload very much much stays the same
There's a significant amount of power available from this engine - it's a 2.2 litre Euro 6.2 10th diesel engine which returns excellent running costs. There's a lot of power, there's a lot of torque and the gearstick allows you access to this brilliant 6-speed gearbox which is mated to the engine and makes for a very nice drive. I mean, you need a lot of power when you're carrying 1,500 kilograms and when you're towing braked another 2,500 kilograms.
Driving the Peugeot round tight corners you will find a little bit of wobble, but it's nothing you're not really going to expect in a van of this size. When I drop it down a couple of gears, I have enough power to get around and get control. There is a bit of a hairy moment where it just felt like the vehicle was just tipping just that little bit too much, but to be fair, that was an exceptionally tight corner you don't often get. I've been taking this round roundabouts and round standard 90-degree corners and experiencing no real issues whatsoever. The only thing that I'm very conscious of every now and then I do get a little clunk from a tree branch just on the top of this vehicle, but that's what's bound to happen driving a vehicle like this, you'll be taking some foliage with you!
Whilst the interior may look a little bit bland, the seats themselves are very comfortable. I feel like they're hugging my bum quite nicely and I've got a nice little armrest making it quite a relaxing vehicle to drive. I've gone through a town centre, we've gone through country roads, we've gone through some A roads and B roads and now I am about to hit a dual carriageway, which will mean that I can open up the engine to see what this 2.2 litre is capable of.
When I took a very short slip road it meant getting my speed up very very fast, which is quite difficult in a vehicle of this size because you slow it down a bit to take those big corners. When you need to though, this van can, surprisingly, pick up speed fast. It handles the motorway very nicely. The one thing I noticed is that there is quite a lot of cabin noise, in fact probably more than I would remember from the Citroen Relay, but it's not too loud. And as I am coming to the end of my drive I get to test one of the great features - the reverse sensors and camera. With a van this size, especially when it's so long, a nice siren going off while you're parking always tells you exactly where you are.
You will typically find vans like the Peugeot Boxer and the Citroen Relay in fleets because they make very cheap to run, very durable fleet vehicles. Imagine you've got multiple people jumping in and out of vans every single day, you've got guys sharing the same spaces and you've got all sorts of people jumping in at any given moment, so you need something that's tough and hard wearing. When you look around at the cabin on the Boxer it's geared up for exactly that sort of lifecycle. The very tough rubber matting on the floor handles all the boots clambering in an d out, it's got the very tough very hard to scratch black plastic all over the interior to avoid being scuffed and scratched and it's also got a very tough and hard-wearing engine, so it can over miles and adapt to different driving styles.
So whether you have someone who's a bit heavy on the clutch or someone who's a bit heavy on the accelerator, these vehicles can handle it. So if you're an independent tradesperson and you're thinking about getting a large van which is tried and tested, toughly built and meant to outlast multiple drivers and multiple driving styles - this could be your perfect choice.
OK so let's do comparisons - we can draw some obvious conclusions when put up against the Ford Transit, for example. The Ford Transit is a big powerful van with a really good engine. The eco blue 2-litre Diesel that Ford put in all their commercial vehicles is a really good engine that returns very good running costs. However, this 2.2 litre engine in the Boxer is also capable of returning very similar miles per gallon. So, you have to start looking a bit more granular… Let's go for cabins - the Ford Transit probably has a better cabin, but this one is tougher and more durable and at the professional trim level you've got cup holders! I'd usually say go for the Transit if you want the cup holders and you won't be disappointed, but actually, going for the professional trim level Peugeot Boxer and you're not going to miss them at all! This is one large van that's hard to beat!
So how do we finish? Well, for anyone who watched my review of the Citroen Relay, this is probably going to come as absolutely no surprise… overall the Peugeot Boxer is tough, it's very durable and it returns great running cost thanks to that excellent engine beneath the bonnet. This is one pretty good large van that passes the Vanarama road test with flying colours!
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