Open gallery Close by Steve Cropley 11 February 2013 Follow @StvCr Share
How we test cars
The Peugeot Bipper Teepee qualifies, arguably, as one of Europe’s smallest people carriers since it is just under four metres long yet offers enough knee and headroom in the rear to accommodate – and provide easy access for – a couple of large adults, without unduly compromising the front package, and leaving decent space for four people’s luggage.
It is obviously related to a diminutive delivery van PSA shares with Fiat, but has two rear seats and sliding rear doors to make people the prime cargo. The French manufacturers discovered this van-based ‘multispace’ model a couple of decades ago and initially made a huge success of it with the Citroën Berlingo/Peugeot Partner Tepee.
Given the Peugeot’s rudimentary comforts, the Ford B-Max might well seem better valueSteve CropleyEditor-in-chief
They have since split demand in two by making the latest Berlingo/Partner larger and more luxurious, and bringing the Bipper/Nemo in underneath.
It’s a cheeky-looking little machine with rather odd, ‘undershot jaw’ frontal styling. There are two equipment levels, S and Outdoor, both of which come with the Fiat-derived 1248cc turbodiesel engine, one of the smallest available in Europe, producing 75bhp.
You specify your Bipper either with a standard five-speed gearbox and no stop-start, or with a clutchless five-speed ‘electronically controlled manual gearchange’ that sets you back £900 but cuts CO2 output from 119 to 107g/km, and improves combined fuel consumption from 64.8 to 68.9mpg.
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In practice, over about 500 miles of city, country and motorway test driving, we found it easy in the conventional manual model to return an average consumption of around 52mpg.
All seating, front and rear, is very much ‘sit up and beg’. The seats are firm and trim is mostly hard plastic. This car would resist the ministrations of young children very well. It also has decent equipment: remote central locking, one-touch front electric windows (the rears only fold an inch or two outward), heated mirrors and ESP chassis stability control.
On the road, it drives like a tall and rather stiff-legged Fiat Panda, which in effect is what it is. The little diesel engine needs more revving than most of its ilk, the five-speed gearbox isn’t the most fluent going, and performance (0-62mph in 16.8 seconds) is only adequate.
Concentrate on keeping it rolling, however, and you can stay with the traffic and cruising isn’t as noisy as some. The steering is accurate and easy to use, but the lumpy low-speed ride drew complaints from some of our passengers. In all things Bipper, sophistication is absent.
To us, the Bipper’s chief strength is that it can easily accommodate a couple of big adults in the rear, yet it’s shorter than some superminis. But its prices look high to us, and the relationship with a rudimentary delivery van is obvious.
You’d be crazy not to check out more sophisticated models such as a Ford B-Max before you buy, because their base versions cost no more than the upper-echelon Bipper.