PEUGEOT’S pitch into the value-for-money people carrier market, the Partner Tepee, is about to get a long-awaited lift.

The versatile vehicle is about the same size as a compact hatchback but offers a whopping amount of interior space. It’s that family-friendly ability to cope with whatever is thrown at it that has made it a hit.

Chunky, spacious and economical, the Spanish-built Partner Tepee is about to get its biggest makeover since it was launched almost four years ago.

Coming soon is an updated modern appearance, a range of new low-emission engines and a boost in equipment levels.

The existing model, tested here, already comes with some state-of-the-art equipment, not least a diesel engine fitted with latest stop-start technology.

Couple that power plant with a six-speed automatic transmission, which can be operated from steering wheel-mounted paddles, and you have a car that is not only frugal but also supremely easy to manage in and around town.

Its van origins are evident the second you sit behind the wheel, but that’s not to say travelling in a Tepee is a spartan experience, or lacking in goodies.

Far from it. On the technology front, there is a speed limiter/cruise control, for convenience there is hill-start assistance and for safety there is an electronic stability program combined with traction control.

Some of the extras fitted to the car neatly illustrate the technology and levels of luxury that are available; so £160 delivers automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers, £650 brings automatic air conditioning and £210 gives you a USB connection with Bluetooth phone link.

The Tepee is fitted as standard with a split rear bench seat that can be folded forwards against the front seats or removed completely. A set-up with three individual rear seats is also available. Fitted with a curved headrest and a reclining back, each seat can be easily folded or removed. A tray with two cup-holders is built into the back of the centre seat which, once folded, can be used as a table between the two outer seats. Folding “airline” style trays are attached to the backs of the passenger and driver’s seats.

The car’s ace in the hole is space. In the passenger compartment there are extra glove boxes on top of the fascia, two storage areas under the air vents in the central fascia panel, an optional 13-litre centre storage console, and storage above the passenger and driver’s head.

Front door storage pockets can hold bottles of up to 1.5 litres, the area behind the handbrake is also equipped with two cup-holders easily accessible by the rear passengers and there are drawers under the front seats.

Surfers and individuals with board-based sports can also opt for an ingenious internal support rack inside the Partner Tepee, to carry their boards. This rack optimises the space available due to the height of the rear passenger compartment and is located in the central roof space, accessible from the boot. It is therefore possible to transport objects almost 3m in length.

The Partner Tepee was launched back in June 2008.

The new model was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this week and will go on sale later this month.