Peugeot 407

9 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Peugeot 407
Peugeot 407

Peugeot 407

I n the 80s and 90s, Peugeot was the most driver-oriented mass production brand in the automotive world. Countless of great driver#8217;s cars rolled off from its production lines in France: 205, 309, 405, 605, 106, 306, 406. unfortunately, the magic suddenly disappeared in the current generation cars, or is that because the current generation engineers failed to match their predecessors?

Up to this point, 406 is the last of the golden breed surviving. Its perfect combination of supple ride and involving handling has been lost in other Peugeots. But the car is 8 years old and is about to be replaced. Will a great era finally come to an end? fortunately, Peugeot said no this time.

The lion finally woke up and decided to go back the driver#8217;s cars route. It decided to reestablish reputation with their new family saloon 407.

How to achieve that? firstly, they developed a new double-wishbones front suspensions to replace the old MacPherson struts. Compare with MacPherson struts, double-wishbones has superior geometry, good at maintaining the wheels perpendicular to the road surface in cornering. In contrast, strut-type suspensions are more likely to introduce excessive camber under cornering force or when meeting bumps.

You may argue that BMW also employs MacPherson struts as front suspensions, but remember: BMW is rear-wheel drive while Peugeot is front-drive. To the latter, maintaining the front wheels, hence driving force, contacting well with ground surface is more important.

Secondly, there is also a change of tuning theory in this Peugeot. In the recent 206 and 307, the emphasis is safe and easy control. In the 407, thanks to the superior front suspensions as well as the independent multi-link rear setup (similar to 406), Peugeot can take a more aggressive approach in the tuning of suspension geometry. They setup the front suspensions to maximize contact patch area at compression.

In this way, during cornering the front wheels produce terrific grip, keeping 407 on rails. In other words, it achieves neutral attitude and high cornering limit.

On the road, 407 really works! Ford Mondeo may be the King of Handling during the past few years, but now the new Peugeot beats it convincingly. Its neutrality and body control exceeds that of any other front-drive saloons. The harder you push it, the more you see its superiority over other family saloons. The way it grips, the way it steers follow your instructions.

While other cars run out of grip and run into understeer, 407 still bites hard into corner, leaving all others behind.

Its talent is not limited to accuracy, but also spread to fun. In corners, you can trim its line by adjusting throttle. If you lift off suddenly, it can even run into oversteer – this is not the old-style, scary oversteer, but a neat and progressive oversteer that good drivers will love. Furthermore, the ESP stability control has unusually high threshold such that the driver has plenty of freedom to exploit the limit of the chassis.

It was this kind of engaging manner made the old generation Peugeot famous. Now it is going to make this new Peugeot famous too.

For fuss-free cruising, the electro-hydraulic steering (luckily Peugeot did not switch to full electric assistance) is a little numb at straight-ahead. But once you push 407 into corners, it becomes alive! on lock, it directly connects the driver to the road, transmitting streams of information to the driver#8217;s hands. The speed-sensitive assistance is well judged, well weighted.

The 2.8 turns steering ratio is quick and responsive.

407 did not forget ride quality either. It rides supple on all surfaces except the most bumpy B-roads, thanks partly to the aluminum parts used in suspensions. It is a little firmer than 406, probably because the taller body needs firmer springs to resist body roll.

However, on most roads you will praise the absorbent damping and relaxed manner of the ride.

From outside, the 407 looks like what Pininfarina would have styled a 4-door Ferrari. Its front end is sports-car-like, with very long front overhang, a Ferrari-style laughing grille, steeply raked windscreen and an air of sleekness. Use a tape measure and you will find its bonnet is high – to leave sufficient clearance under the bonnet to pass the forthcoming pedestrian safety law.

In many ways, it looks somewhat like some Chryslers of the 90s, not just because of the sports car style but also cab-forward design.

In fact, the cockpit layout is conventional. The seats are at where they used to be, just the far forward and huge windscreen creates an airiness to the driver. Unfortunately, this is at the expense of rear accommodation, because the swoopy and cab-forward roof limits rear headroom.

Legroom is also the tightest in class, despite of a respectable 2725mm wheelbase. Rear passengers pay the price for the stylish exterior design.

The design of dashboard and center console is not as attractive as outside. They look business rather than innovative. The plastics used meets class standard without being outstanding.

The negative impression on 407#8217;s cabin proves that you cannot have apple and banana at the same time, given a fixed development budget.

The 407 employs existing engines from Peugeot#8217;s parts pool, including:

1.8-litre dohc 16V, 117hp, 120lbft;

2.0-litre dohc 16V, 136hp, 140lbft;

2.2-litre dohc 16V, variable intake manifolds and balance shafts, 160hp, 160lbft;

Peugeot 407

3.0-litre dohc 24V V6, variable valve timing, variable exhaust, 211hp, 214lbft;

1.6HDi dohc 16V, common-rail diesel with VTG turbo and particle filter, 110hp, 177lbft. A short period of overboost can lift maximum torque to 192lbft for stronger overtaking;

2.0HDi dohc 16V, also common-rail diesel with VTG turbo and particle filter, 136hp, 236lbft. Overboost to 251lbft momentarily;

2.7HDi V6 dohc 24V, common-rail diesel with twin VTG turbo and particle filter, 207hp, 321lbft.

Unfortunately, 407 is unusually heavy in the class. For example, the 2.2 petrol weighs 1480kg, some 120kg more than a Ford Mondeo 2.0. Therefore no matter which engine it uses, it goes slower than equivalent rivals.

Even with the top 211hp V6 and 6-speed Tiptronic gearbox, it is not going to be sports saloon, as it takes a poor 8.5 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph.

407SW (Station Wagon)

The 2.2-litre is perhaps the most sensible petrol. Its higher power and torque than other 4-cylinder engines enables decent performance, while twin-balance shafts ensure smooth running. However, the real winner is 2.0HDi, whose superb refinement and gusty torque output suits 407 very well. Mid-range acceleration feels noticeably stronger than the 2.2 petrol.

We have to wait for the 2.7 diesel V6 to arrive in 2005, but from the experience in Jaguar 2.7D (which uses the same engine) it is likely to be a formidable, if expensive, player.

At last, we come to our conclusion: Peugeot 407 has become the new icon of driver-oriented family saloons. Its great handling and ride and its sharp look delight those who place driving pleasure in first priority. However, its poor packaging results in two significant flaws: cramped accommodation and high weight.

The latter deteriorates its performance. I also expect its cabin design and quality will lag behind the industry standard in a couple of year#8217;s time as newer competitors will continue lifting the standard. For these reasons, it fails to match the completeness of its predecessor 406.

In other words, it fails to clinch the class title from Ford Mondeo.

The above report was last updated on 11 Jul 2004 . All Rights Reserved.

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