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Peugeot Partner Grand Raid

Broadcast dates : 1st August 2004
5th August 2004

Think of a European version of Toyota’s Condor and you have got a pretty good handle on the Peugeot Partner Grand Raid.

Essentially based on a no-frills commercial van, the Partner is fitted out with accommodation for five adults and various luxury items to make life on the road that much easier.

And in the case of the Grand Raid version, life off the road is easier too, or at least just a little off the beaten track.

The Grand Raid version not does pretend to be a 4X4, according to Peugeot. But it does have some bundu-bashing cred, thanks to a limited slip differential and ground clearance raised by some 30 mm, over the standard model.

And a couple of off-road-image items that are also practical, such as headlight protectors and a reshaped front bumper designed to minimize snagging on rocks or tree stumps. In addition, there is a sturdy sump guard fitted beneath the motor.

In a way this type of vehicle makes a lot more sense for casual dirt riding than the very expensive MPVs known as soft-roaders. One would feel far better about brushing up against a thorn tree in the Grand Raid than you would in a BMW X5, or a Mercedes M-Class with 10 layers of pearlescent paint.

What’s more, there is nothing low-profile about the tyres fitted to the Partner Grand Raid.

Rather than easily-scuffable alloy rims, the Grand Raid comes with plain old 15-inch steel wheels behind those rather convincing alloy-look hubcaps. And the black scratch-resistant edgings on the front bumper, wheel arches and door scuff strips will also add to peace of mind when the going gets a little rough.

In fact, with a high glass area, plenty of leg and luggage room, the Partner Grand Raid is perfect for a game-viewing holiday.

And the two-litre diesel engine is ideal for long hauls to holiday destinations. It provides plenty of torque, relaxed cruising at the speed limit with plenty in reserve and, driven sensibly, fuel consumption under seven litres/100 km.

Top speed is rated at 160 km/h, and you wouldn’t really want to travel faster than this, given the hike in ground clearance to a total of 170 mm.

The engine is rated at 66 kW at 4 000 rpm, quite moderate for a two-litre diesel these days, but 205 Nm of torque makes overtaking brisk when the engine is in the powerband

The diesel clatter is there at idle, but presumably, because Peugeots carry the Lion crest on their bonnets, the Grand Raid was accepted at face value.

The limited slip action is designed to prevent excessive wheel-spin on dirt, or when one of the front wheels breaks traction. This works on fast dirt roads as well as on tracks, and longer springs give increased travel on difficult dirt tracks.

But there is no way that this will compete with a pucker 4X4, or even a rear-wheel drive 4X2 in serious off-roading. Front wheel drive is fine for level roads, but on steep inclines, the weight transfer to the rear, makes this system inferior to a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.

The interior trim on the Partner is a lot more sophisticated than your average van décor. The plastic dash trim is functional and just misses looking cheap. Upholstery is in sensible cloth and access to the rear is easy via a sliding door on each side of the vehicle.

With the rear seats upright there is an excellent 624 litres of luggage space. And this rises to 2 800 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Numerous storage areas abound in the Partner, and there is a removable ashtray, three cup holders, and handy stowage in the door pockets.

Safety is taken care of via two front, multi-stage airbags. But being a relatively low-cost family vehicle, the rear passengers have to do without curtain airbags, and no side airbags are fitted.

However the accent is on fun and comfort is providing by standard air-conditioning, an audio system with a CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls and electric windows.

The Toyota Condor is a very successful player in the low-to-medium priced MPV market and this version of the Peugeot Partner gives family motorists an interesting alternative.

Priced at R184 900, we have to say that if it’s fun and practicality you are after, rather than image, the Partner Grand Raid makes lots of sense.

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