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Peugeot Bipper Tepee Outdoor 1.4 HDi 70

Click to view picture gallery“Buyers, especially young families,
  looking for a car that has multiple
  uses, is easy to drive, compact and
  economical and perhaps even a little
  non-conformist, would do well to
  check out Peugeot
s Bipper Tepee...

THE BIPPER TEPEE is the latest addition to Peugeot's growing 'multi-space' range of family vehicles. As such its form high roof and vertical flanks and tailgate is defined by its functions but it also has an individuality all of its own. With its out-of-the-ordinary tapering window line, body protection panels, blistered wheel arches and distinctive thrusting nose, it really does stand out our Outdoor test version, painted an attractive light blue metallic, attracted more than its fair share of interest.

Peugeot have made excellent use of the internal space within the Bipper's supermini-sized footprint (3.9 metres long and 1.6 metres wide) to provide a versatile and roomy mix of passenger and load accommodation. Choosing a Bipper will not take long because there are just two trim levels (S and Outdoor) and two 1.4-litre engine options: the petrol musters 74bhp and the diesel 68bhp. However, given the diesel's superior torque (120 vs 89lb ft), combined 62.8mpg fuel consumption, 119g/km CO2 emissions and annual road tax bill of just 35, it will be the oil-burner that appeals the most.

On paper, the 68bhp diesel takes 18.7 seconds to get to 62mph and runs to 94mph. However, with 120lb ft of torque at 1,750rpm it delivers decent mid-range pulling power and it actually feels far more eager than the official figure suggests, proving to be willing and nippy around the houses and perfectly happy on motorways. The official urban and extra-urban fuel consumption figures are 50 and 74.3mpg respectively and during our week-long test, the bulk of it stop-start town driving, we recorded an overall average of 47.3mpg.

The Bipper's cabin not only offers high levels of practicality but is a pleasant place to be. The dash is neatly laid out with a deep fascia and the audio and air conditioning controls are mounted high on the centre stack for ease of use. The high-mounted gearlever — now becoming quite popular on MPV-type vehicles with high seating positions — is conveniently positioned for easy changes.

All in all, the driving
experience is fine,
helped by light but quick
and direct power
steering, a smooth
gearchange action on the
five-speed manual
gearbox and clear
all-round visibility...
The well-shaped seats are upholstered in a smart fabric with contrasting piping and are as comfortable as they look. Intentionally exposed areas on the doors are finished in the exterior paintwork and add a light-hearted flash of extra colour to the cabin ambience.

Instruments are attractive, with simple white-on-black markings. And the good news is that this is one of those cars that you don't need to plough through the handbook before driving off because the controls and switchgear are all self-explanatory.

This may be 'budget' motoring but standard equipment is a few grades up from that with air conditioning, one-touch electric front windows, power steering, electric and heated door mirrors, remote control locking, radio/CD player with MP3 functionality, twin glazed sliding side doors, roof bars, front fog lights and driver, passenger and side airbags.

The Outdoor spec model also comes with jacked up suspension (by 15mm) and an under-body engine protection plate and side body protection mouldings. ABS brakes are standard although there's no ESP either fitted or available as an option.

Getting in and out is simple; more so to the back seats as these are accessed through wide rear sliding side doors that are also perfect for hassle-free loading/unloading in tight car parks or busy urban areas. Once in, you sit higher than normal and enjoy excellent views out.

Headroom, as you'd expect from the tall body, is considerable but there's also loads of elbow, shoulder and knee room in the front — and ample legroom for all. Height and lumbar adjustment of the driver's seat, along with generous reach and rake on the steering column, ensures a decent and easily-set driving position. The driver also has a dedicated drop-down inner armrest that doesn't crowd the handbrake and both front doors have wide sloping armrests with handy built-in storage dishes. Drive-away automatic central locking is unexpected but nevertheless welcome.

“The ride is positively
bumps and road
imperfections are soaked
up surprisingly well.
Even potholes are taken
in the Bipper’s stride
Intended as family transport, the Bipper can accommodate a family's luggage but in addition has a variety of storage areas and cubbyholes to house the average tribe's clutter. The front passenger airbag can be de-activated if you need to use a child seat and both outer rear seats feature Isofix child seat anchorages. Thanks to the shallow central tunnel a third person can travel in the middle rear seat fairly comfortably. The rear windows do open — they're front-hinged and pop-open several inches at their trailing edge so you get fresh air but no buffeting. The view out is fine for children, especially now the I-Spy books are back in fashion.

Swing up the large, regular-sized top-hinged tailgate — it's long so you'll need quite a bit of space behind you — and you'll find a generous boot: 356 litres with the rear seats in use. If you need more, then folding down the 60:40 split rear seats frees up 884 litres.

And should you ever have a 'white van man' moment you can remove the rear bench; do so and you'll have a huge 2.5m3 at your disposal. And, however you arrange your load-bay, it will always have a perfectly flat floor. The tailgate is also wide and makes loading especially easy. A nice touch is the pull-out rechargeable torch in the side of the boot.

On the move, despite it's commercial roots, the Bipper Tepee is actually quite a comfortable and civilised car in which to travel. Not only are road and wind noise well suppressed and the engine reasonably quiet however you drive, but the ride is positively passenger-friendly; bumps and road imperfections are soaked up surprisingly well. Even potholes are taken in the Bipper's stride.

And while it's not unexpected, body lean when pushing on through bends is never worrying because grip is strong and the Bipper's handling predictable. All in all, the driving experience is fine, helped by light but quick and direct power steering, a smooth gearchange action on the five-speed manual 'box and clear all-round visibility.

And thanks to its boxy 'I-know-where-the-corners-are' proportions, large windscreen, deep side front windows and, at the tail, a short rear overhang plus good visibility through the rear screen, placing and parking the Bipper is a piece of cake. Parking sensors are optional (£200) but quite honestly, and helped by large real-world-sized door mirrors, it's an easy car to park without them. And there are no issues with using underground car parks.

So, if you're in the market for some budget-priced family transport that's pleasant to drive and use and which in addition to tackling the school run and weekly supermarket shopping trips is equally capable of managing weekend family outings and longer journeys, then you'll find a lot to like in the practical, space-efficient and family-oriented Bipper. — MotorBar

Peugeot Bipper Tepee Outdoor 1.4 HDi 70
| 12,195
Maximum speed: 94mph | 0-62mph: 18.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 47.3mpg
Power: 68bhp | Torque: 120lb ft | CO2 119g/km