If your family is starting to look like the one in that movie, Cheaper by the Dozen – then don’t bring on the grey hairs like Steve Martin by stressing about transport arrangements. Go out and find yourself a Tepee.
But hold on, I’m not talking about the flimsy tent-like contraption here. I’m talking about something a lot sturdier and versatile – the Peugeot Expert Tepee.
To misquote Kwaito group TKZee – this is a car for December, whenever, wherever: Tepee will serve well as an exclusive holiday vehicle, as well as a people-moving mule.
The Expert first appeared on local shores in 2008, following its success in markets abroad and even managing to earn the prestigious “International Van of the Year 2008″ title.
But let’s be honest: a van is only useful when you’ve got tools, machinery and other large items to carry. The rest of the time, that large load area is a waste of vacant space. And you can’t ferry people around in there either, because that’s just dangerous. So, the Expert Tepee was born.
It retains the van’s virtues of course – still boasting tons of space and practicality, but with the added benefit of seating for passengers.
Now, even though it is essentially still a van, the Tepee has some stylish elements to it. Instead of being all boxy and square, it has an unmistakably car-like front end, and from some angles you might mistake it for a rather large hatchback than a fully-fledged people carrier. Making a vehicle of this kind look even slightly pleasing to the eye is a difficult task, with proportions dictated by the need for space, rather than the need for aesthetic pleasure. But Peugeot have done reasonably well despite the constraints. It could do with some decent alloys however, as the silver steel rims look nasty – even nastier after a long distance trip to the coast, coated in that all brake dust that’s inevitable with intensive driving.
Inside, you’ve got a dashboard that has been designed by Italian design company Pininfarina, whose emblem has graced Ferraris and other exotics. But don’t expect hand-stitched leather, Alcantara or any other premium materials – it’s all very utilitarian.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I must concede, especially since those you cart around are bound to spill and mess items all over the Tepee’s interior.
As you would expect, it is extremely roomy inside the Tepee. Nine full-sized passengers can be seated in comfort and their luggage too will be accommodated by the Tepee’s more than adequate rear quarters. It really is appropriate that you say “rear quarters” instead of “boot”, because with a storage capacity of 1 195 litres, it actually is that large. The interior is abound with neat storage compartments – perfect for a KZN taxi owner to fit speakers, and for your passengers to store handbags, holiday buckets and spades and other paraphernalia. Peugeot vehicles usually have comfy seats. Once, when I was much younger, I remember being a passenger in a relative’s 307 – enamoured by the novelty of having my very own arm-rest. The Tepee’s passenger seat has its own arm-rest too.
Safety is paramount with the Tepee: should you need it – touch wood- there are airbags for both driver and passenger. In addition, the Tepee gets disc brakes at all four wheels and there are various structures in place that will prevent any intrusion to the passenger compartment should you be involved in a collision. I’m not a parent, but if I were carting around my precious young, then I would certainly look out for ISOFIX child seat mountings and a passenger airbag that can be deactivated – both of which features in the Tepee.
All this bulk is powered by a two-litre diesel engine, which produces 88 kilowatts and 300 Newton-metres of torque. While it certainly won’t make the world spin backwards, the high torque this powerplant produces allows it to cope with the task of carrying large loads at low speed.
Competition is this segment is pretty fierce and those seeking a people carrier have quite a few choices: there are the perennial best-sellers – the Volkswagen Caravelle and Toyota Quantam. Then there’s the odd-looking Renault Trafic,the Nissan Interstar and if you’re willing to spend a bit more, the Mercedes Benz Vito and Viano, which were recently revised.
But I suppose it all comes down to preference. If you just want a bus to move from people from A to B, then settle for one of the conventional products. But if you want a bus to move people from A to B in style – get the Peugeot.