What is it?
The world of electric vans is expanding at a fearsome rate, with manufacturers across the board offering their own battery-powered load-luggers. They make a lot of sense, particularly for those who are frequently driving around towns and cities, where a lack of emissions proves to be a big benefit.
One of the companies leading the charge - if you’ll excuse the pun - is Stellantis. This huge automotive group now has several big brands under its wing, with Peugeot being a key component. Its own electric van is the e-Rifter - and it’s what we’re looking at today.
It’s interesting to note that just as the e-Rifter has reached showrooms in the UK, Peugeot has announced that petrol and diesel-powered versions would be discontinued, leaving this battery-powered variant as the sole option.
However, save for a few dials and a more modern centre console, it’s hard to distinguish this electric version from the combustion-engined versions. Only a few badges give away what is powering the e-Rifter, in truth.
What’s under the bonnet?
The e-Rifter combines a 50kWh battery with a 134bhp electric motor, which is capable of delivering a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds and top speed of 83mph - both are more than respectable for a car of this type.
When it comes to range, there are 172 miles per charge on offer, which is some way behind what you get from Peugeot’s e-208 with which the Rifter shares its powertrain. That said, you still get rapid 100kW charging capabilities, capable of conducting an 80 per cent charge in around half an hour. Use a 7.4kW home wall box, and you’re looking at a full charge in 7.5 hours.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s quite pleasant to find that there’s no grumbly diesel under the bonnet of the e-Rifter to disturb the peace as you’d usually find, replaced instead by the smooth, serene and very quiet acceleration that you can only get from an EV. Plus, it's quite sprightly in a straight line, delivering acceleration that feels far quicker than the figures suggest.
It’s also very easy to drive, while its large windows both let plenty of light into the cabin but also aid with visibility. It’s certainly not setting a benchmark for handling, but for a van of this type, the e-Rifter is more than acceptable.
How does it look?
It’s hard to get away from a van’s boxy shape, but Peugeot has done a good job of making the e-Rifter a little more appealing to the eye, without taking away that all-important practicality. It’s got a touch of crossover about it, with chunky dimensions which help to beef its looks up overall.
Those after the most stylish e-Rifter versions will no doubt lean towards the top-spec GT, which adds 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black styling and a redesigned front end.
What’s it like inside?
It’s that sense of space that immediately strikes you when you first sit in the cabin of the e-Rifter. It’s packed with storage options, while the battery has been cleverly placed underneath the boot floor which means that there’s no loss of room. In fact, it’s no less practical than the petrol and diesel versions, while there’s the option of five or seven seats too. Choose the Long model - which measures 35cm longer than the Standard e-Rifter - and you’ve got a huge 4,000 litres of boot space to utilise when the seats are folded flat.
Each row gets plenty of space, too, with both head- and legroom levels more than plentiful.
What’s the spec like?
There are two trim levels available with the e-Rifter - Allure Premium and GT. Our test car came in the former and though it acts as the entry-level specification, it really does come with more than enough equipment including a reversing camera, a 10-inch digital instrument cluster and an eight-inch touchscreen.
GT grade adds in a more stylish look alongside more equipment such as dual-zone climate control and keyless entry. Individual rear seats in the second row are also included with this grade.
The e-Rifter feels perfectly designed for family duties thanks to its spacious interior, flexible loading options and low-cost powertrain. It’s also superbly easy to drive, which will be a real draw to plenty of buyers.
Its only real drawback is its range, which feels under what a lot of people are expecting from modern EVs. That said, if you’re only doing shorter journeys or the school run, then the e-Rifter could be a welcome option.