NEED to move lots of stuff and five adults in comfort? Then the 2019 Peugeot Rifter could be just the car for you.

Yes that’s right it’s a car – for despite it looking like a van (and being based on the successful Partner van range) the Rifter is car-like for comfort and driving experience.

But like a van it has acres of space, especially with the rear seats folded flat, and also lots of clever storage ideas. There’s 180 litres of room in the various lockers, cubbies and door bins, and that’s more than the boot space in some city cars. Those door bins can hold several big bottles of water, there’s a compartment in the dashboard that will store a laptop and an overhead locker folds down airline-style for passengers in the rear.

We tested the top of the range GT Line version (from £24,259 on the road) which meant it came with a turbocharged 129bhp diesel engine, cruise control, 8-inch touch screen infotainment and sat-nav, keyless entry and go, dual zone air conditioning, rear camera and parking sensors, auto lights and wipers and Peugeot’s I-cockpit instrument binnacle, mounted above the small steering wheel so more in the driver’s line of sight.

I used the Rifter for a petrolhead day out at the NEC Classic Car Show in Birmingham and loaded it up with a few friends and piles of bacon butties. With a claimed 70mpg plus on a run it was ideal in terms of space and economy – although I did get a few ‘mini bus’ jibes.

But with more than acceptable performance – 0 to 62 in 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 116 – and a comfortable motorway cruising ride those soon dried up as my passengers began to appreciate I had chosen the right vehicle for the job.

Peugeot say their practicality-focused Rifter isn’t a traditional MPV but instead a crossover with cues from the firm’s SUVs. That ruggedness is enhanced by body cladding around the wheel arches and roof rails giving a definite ‘Tonka toy’ look.

There are actually a couple of different sizes of Rifter – standard and long-wheelbase – and both are available with either five or seven seats (the third row removable). Choose the regular edition and you’ll have 775 litres of boot space with the second row in place, or up to 3,000 with them folded down. The bigger version, which is 35cm longer overall, offers 1,050 litres in five-seat form, rising to a huge 4,000 litres if you favour cargo over passengers.

You can choose from a variety of petrol and diesel options. The 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder petrol is offered with 109bhp and a six-speed manual gearbox then a 1.5 BlueHDi diesel comes in three states of tune – 74bhp and 99bhp versions get a five-speed manual while our 129bhp car gets a six-speed box or an auto option.

There are three trim levels, Active, Allure and our flagship GT Line, with prices starting from £18,775 with the lowest power diesel engine,

Our 129 bhp unit is at its best on a motorway cruise, nice and quiet with only the wind noise reminding you that this is a somewhat boxy vehicle. In town the comfortable ride soaks up minor road bumps well and you appreciate that raised driving position.

Cabin materials are focused more on durability than luxury, probably a good thing given that it is designed for the knocks of family life, but some of the plastics are still a little utilitarian.

The French have a long history of producing van-based family people carriers as square proportions and low-cost engineering make these cars the perfect choice for active families on a budget, especially those for whom a vehicle is simply a means of getting from A to B.

And for that the Rifter is perfect offering superb practicality, efficiency and value under a reworked van skin decorated with stick-on SUV cues. With five or seven seats, long and short-wheelbase body styles and loads of engine choices, the Rifter has plenty going for it

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth