Rifter gift: looks not everything
Versatile new Peugeot has plenty of room for families – and loads more besides
The brilliant weather we had on the east coast last weekend wouldn’t normally inspire you to spend time in a rather industrial-looking vehicle but the sunshine had us looking at our garden anew and we knew we had the means to transport garden benches, canopies or whatever we wanted.
So we piled into the Peugeot Rifter and headed for the Glen of the Downs in north Co Wicklow and a renowned garden centre and outdoor furniture supplier.
The Rifter is the sort of vehicle that inspires you to use its great carrying capacity and flexibility. OK, it looks a bit box-like, but so did the old Subaru Forester and Skoda Yeti, the former once being described as having the beauty of a garden shed.
Our Rifter was also supremely comfortable, with five individual well-upholstered seats, lots of space and a wonderful array of storage options around the cabin.
Once out on the open road, you quickly forget you are driving a sort of van. While it wouldn’t have the manners of the Peugeot 508 saloon, launched at the same time earlier this year, it is more than competent and bustles along. It is also surprisingly quiet.
This makes the Rifter a very good family proposition, especially for those who might need to take advantage of its vast flat load area for objects such as wheelchairs, sports equipment or large pets. There is also an extended version which will take another row of seats. The rear sliding doors are also a boon when unloading in a garage or other restricted spaces.
The car isn’t stingy on the little luxuries we have come to expect from our vehicles. I was driving the GT Line Rifter, with the 1.5 BlueHDi diesel developing an impressive 130bhp and a six-speed manual box. At €30,890, it was about €7k more than the entry version but had masses of safety equipment, both passive and active, an excellent reversing camera which allows inch-perfect parking and the company’s famed i-cockpit. It was far more premium SUV-like rather than commercial.
The high driving position and short overhangs make the Rifter easy to manoeuvre around town. There is quite a step up to the cabin but I now find that easier than going the other way as so many cars are getting lower and sleeker.
There is an awful lot to like about the Rifter. It soaks up bumps and dips with ease and was a delight to have around. I think my house and garden would be a lot smarter if I had one. I would be doing a lot of trips to the dump as well as going around auction rooms.
In the end, we didn’t have to pack a garden seat into the back of the Rifter as the outdoor garden furniture store was a showroom only. Never mind, the drive was good and we travelled in both hope and comfort.
Peugeot has done a very good job with the Rifter and I expect to see quite lot of them about. Maybe it still bears a rather commercial look but there are some very nice touches to soften the effect. Families shouldn’t be put off. There is massive space for everybody.
This is a car for a modern generation of people who are not overly style-conscious but want to combine a lot of things in their life. I like the name: a mix of music, drifting and grifting. But this is no small-scale swindling. With great economy and massive practicality, the Peugeot Rifter does exactly what it says on the tin.