Review and road test of the Peugeot Bipper Tepee (2009 - 2013)
By Andy Enright
It's something of a French tradition to transport the family around in a vehicle of commercial origins. The Peugeot Bipper Tepee (like its close relatives the Citroen Nemo Multispace and Fiat Qubo) takes an old theme and gives it a modern twist. It's an inherently good idea. As the entry-point to Peugeot's now wide range of MPVs, the Bipper Tepee plays an important role. Its van origins are ultimately a help rather than a hindrance, giving the vehicle its sturdy build, functional design and 5-seat interior space that's huge when you consider its tiny dimensions.
5 dr van-based MPV (1.4 petrol and1.3, 1.4 diesel)
Peugeot reckons the Bipper Tepee is the vehicle for the family that needs a small car with a lot of room and may not have a whole lot of cash to spend on it. Yes, it's based on the marque's Bipper van and is basically the same car as Fiat's Qubo and Citroen's Nemo Multispace but since all these designs sit on advanced supermini underpinnings, this isn't such a problem.
So let's stop trying to label this car and instead see it for what it is. A very compact four-to-five-seater family car that's supermini-sized, so smaller than you'd expect an MPV to be. That means it's tiny and nippy enough to twirl you round the tightest underground supermarket carpark, yet large enough to use on the average family holiday - a pretty tough brief to fulfil if you think about it. Peugeot has also created larger Partner Tepee and 5008 compact MPVs for busy families but if you don't need the seven-seat options they provide, then you may well be better off with this one.
What You Get
If you thought a van-based people carrier would be a utilitarian thing in look and feel, the Bipper Tepee should exceed your expectations. The chunky exterior styling has more than a hint of 4x4 about it, with those large protruding bumpers and flared wheelarches. The bumpers and the side rubbing strips also serve as useful protection for the kind of parking knocks that vans and MPVs have a habit of picking up. The front and rear light clusters are also mounted high up out of harm's way and the Bipper Tepee benefits from its van counterpart's convenient access points.
At under four meters from nose to tail, this Peugeot is no bigger than a Fiesta supermini, so certainly doesn't have room for the kind of third row seating that's an option on the French maker's larger Partner Tepee. Still, within the confines of its compact shape, there's still plenty of space inside. More headroom, for example, than you could possibly find a use for, plus legroom is ample for four adult-sized passengers. There are also a reasonable number of internal storage areas, including a large glovebox, and the hose-clean flooring is sensible on a car like this.
A large tailgate opens up the whole rear of the vehicle revealing a 356-litre boot (a little more than its Fiat Qubo design stablemate) with a very low loading lip, and that's just below the parcel shelf. Stack your goods to the ceiling and there's lots more capacity but the Bipper really shows its commercial vehicle origins when you fold the rear seats and there's 884-litres to play with. The back seats can be lifted out too, returning the vehicle to something approaching its original cargo-carrying state with up to 2500 litres on offer but most of the time, buyers will have that rear bench occupied by passengers. Access to it is through the twin sliding side doors and although the aperture isn't particularly wide, the sliding design does stop your offspring re-sculpting the bodywork of adjacent cars when they exit.
What to Look For
The Bipper Tepee hasn't experienced any significant reported problems to date. The only controversial aspect is a Which? Report which highlights a rollover risk if members of the Nemo/Qubo/Bipper family are subjected to an aggressive lane change manoeuvre, or 'elk test'. Given that most high-sided vehicles without electronic stability control would fare about as well as the Bipper Tepee when given this sort of treatment, it's not a vehicle specific issue. The Peugeot's reliability record is very good with some owners complaining of a weak heater that struggles to clear the large windscreen in winter.
(approx based on a 2009 Peugeot Bipper Tepee 1.4) Spares for the Bipper Tepee might come as a bit of a rude awakening if you were bedding in nicely with the discount motoring vibe. A replacement alternator will be around £170 while a new headlamp bulb is £13. Tyres are £140 a corner and a 20,000 mile service will weigh in at around £200.
On the Road
Although there is an improved 1.3-litre 75bhp engine on sale at the moment, by far the biggest array of used stock is accounted for by the 1.4-litre engines, so I'll concentrate on them here. The 1.4-litre petrol develops 75bhp, giving it a 5bhp advantage over the diesel but its maximum torque of 118Nm at 2,600rpm is bettered by the 160Nm that the diesel delivers nearly 1,000rpm lower in its rev range. In all honesty, both engines produce lacklustre performance in the Bipper Tepee but going quickly isn't the point here. The 18 second 0-60mph performance of the diesel is very slow but it's unlikely to prove a major hindrance on the school run on in the supermarket car park.
The Bipper has a slightly more elevated driving position than you'll find in most small MPV products and the same wide range of visibility thanks to its big windscreen and side windows. The stubby bonnet, flat back end and large rear screen also help when parking, as does a turning circle of under ten metres, but the way the rear side windows taper upwards towards the tail does limit what you can see when looking over your shoulder. The suspension is quite soft and bouncy but ride comfort is generally quite good, you wouldn't obviously mark this down as van in disguise.
The Peugeot Bipper Tepee makes a great used buy if you can track down a car that hasn't been too badly ravaged in the supermarket car park and which has been serviced on the nose. With a small stock of used cars to choose from, you might well have to travel or compromise when choosing. The best car in the line up is the new 1.3-litre EGS model but the best buy lies at the other end of the used price range, namely the 1.4-litre petrol model.
Peugeot Bipper Tepee (2009 - 2013) review by Andy Enright