Friday, 10 February 2012 3:23 PM
Don’t mix business with pleasure.
That old adage has stood many a businessman and woman in good stead including my successful old boss at Hampshire the county magazine, who has since sadly passed away. Paul Cave, who was also legendary crooner Frankie Vaughan’s manager, used to frequently advise colleagues on the subject. He was well placed to, being married to Joan for over 60 years.
But even he conceded that there can be occasions where these two pursuits sit as comfortable bedfellows such as when brokering deals on the golf course, as he frequently did.
In much the same way the van-like Peugeot Bipper Tepee represents an interesting opportunity for savvy small traders or taxi drivers with families. Monday to Friday it provides versatile transport for lugging loads, with ample room for deliveries and ease of access thanks to sliding rear doors, which could also be helpful for disabled passengers. My wife finds these doors very easy and lightweight to open when compared to standard car doors.
Come the weekend this unusually named vehicle (I have researched this name and it appears that ‘Bipper’ is completely made up while ‘Tepee’ is a form of tent) doubles up as highly capable family transport with a good amount of room inside. What a great option for the small business wanting to keep a tight rein on the budget: invest in one vehicle rather than two.
On taking delivery of a bright red example, Postman Pat instantly sprang to mind while work colleagues asked whether, now that I was driving a Fire Service vehicle, I had a blue light to stick on the roof. These comments aside, the Pug offers very well priced (sub-£14,000), comfortable and economical transport.
It is noticeably quite high off the ground, giving the driver a good view of the road ahead. Inside all controls are within easy reach and while there is no central armrest the driver’s seat incorporates a useful folding one. Driver comfort is paramount and Peugeot is particularly strong in this area. There’s even a footrest, which is quite something considering that the much dearer Volvo S60 doesn’t have one. The steering wheel is helpfully moulded ensuring that the hands sit in the all-important 10 and two o’clock positions. There’s a reasonable five-speed box, which can be a little indecisive particularly when changing down from fifth to fourth.
Plenty of headroom will please those over six-foot while the dash provides much storage space. There are no carpets instead the floors are covered in a low maintenance hardwearing anti-slip black plastic. There are electric front windows. When negotiating a roundabout the driver’s right leg, which is at the same height as the door handle, can sometimes push it, resulting in all the doors locking.
Arguably the tailgate would be more user-friendly if it was split fold – in its current form it is cumbersome when opening.
The Bipper Tepee has to compete against others including the almost identical Citroen Berlingo and the slightly peculiar Skoda Roomster. Where the latter looks as if Skoda didn’t bother consulting a designer at least it seems that one has cast their eyes over the Peugeot. While its appearance is still perhaps an acquired taste, once you’re behind the wheel you don’t really care what it looks like anyway.
Parkers, the car experts, write: “The Bipper Tepee is a small yet practical runabout that’s based on the Bipper van - something that’s evident in its boxy looks and rather sparse cabin. It may not look very dynamic, but the square shape means plenty of interior space and a large boot. The rear bench seat can fold down plus it’s removable allowing you to boost the carrying ability to van-like proportions. On the road it’s easy to drive and happy at motorway speeds, while the compact size makes it a doddle to squeeze into small parking spots.”
You can’t really fault this very well priced vehicle. It’s efficient, offers bags of space and is pretty nippy, too.
Peugeot Bipper Tepee Outdoor stop/start
Top speed: 99mph
Economy: 65mpg (quoted combined)