Wintonsworld – Peugeot 407 review

26 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Wintonsworld – Peugeot 407 review
Peugeot 407

Nobody Will Complain That This Car Looks Just Like All The Others

Can The #147;Wow#148; Factor Translate Into Big Sales?

Rating **** out of 5

LYMINGTON, Hampshire

Look quickly at the front of the new 407, and you might just think Ferrari.

At least that#146;s what Peugeot is hoping.

I think that we can rest assured that you won#146;t be saying #147;Look at that new Peugeot. Is it a Peugeot? I can#146;t tell these modern cars apart these days#148;.

Peugeot has thrown caution to the winds with the styling of its new 407. The new car competes in an unforgiving, and maybe dying, sector of large family cars and rep-mobiles which include the Ford Mondeo, Opel/Vauxhall Vectra, Toyota Avensis, Renault Lagina II, Mazda6, Volkswagen Passat, and the Honda Accord.

If my readers in the U.S. or those of you who have visited the land of the free recently, find something familiar about the 407, that#146;s because it is eerily similar to the cab-forward Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid. The 407#146;s beautiful, flowing lines and gaping mouth are surely the Concorde and Intrepid, now sadly no longer built, in miniature.

No more bland, Russian doll, anonymous look-alikes for France#146;s Peugeot with the new 407, which replaces the 406. The Ferrari-like front end, with its aggressive, open-mouthed grille, is an unashamed attention grabber. No doubt the 407#146;s competitors will try and say it looks like a goldfish or a gulping grouper, but there is method in Peugeot#146;s risk-taking.

Pressure From Above And Below

Family car sales are under severe pressure from above, as luxury manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes move downmarket with increasing success. From below, smaller, cheaper cars offer more flexibility and big-car extras like air-conditioning and high-tech safety gadgets, with buyers increasingly believing that Volkswagen Golfs or Honda Civics have all the attributes of more expensive cars.

Peugeot reckons that to capture sales and restore profit margins it needs a #147;wow#148; factor. It might offend some, but who cares if turns on real buyers. Peugeot unveiled its first ideas for the 407 at the Frankfurt Car Show last September and it certainly excited the crowds there. The actual design, introduced at the Geneva Car Show in early March, has retained most of the design cues from the #147;concept#148; model.

Sales in Europe started in May.

Double Wishbones At The Front

Under the skin, the 407 is impressively engineered. The 406#146;s MacPherson strut-type front suspension has been supplanted by a new aluminium double wishbone system that should provide better handling, less weight, and less wear on the tyres. Standard throughout the range is an electronic system, which coordinates anti-skid brakes, brake assist, brake force distribution and stability control.

Seven airbags are also standard, including protection for the knees. Top-of-the-range 407 models will include satellite navigation, and electronic memory of steering column, seat and mirror settings. Radar parking sensors are available; these are a necessity because of the difficulty in seeing the heavily stylised car#146;s extremities.

V6 Diesel To Come

There are four petrol engines #150; 1.8, 2.0, 2.2, and 3.0 litre, and two diesels #150; 1.6 and 2.0 litres. Later this year a new 2.7 litre V6 diesel will be available, which has been developed jointly by Peugeot and Ford, and which was used first in the Jaguar S type. The engines can be mated with 5 or 6 speed manual gearboxes or 4 or 6 speed automatics. The latter incorporates a #147;Porsche Tiptronic System#148;, which allows manual override of the automatic.

Manual override is de rigeur for modern automatic boxes, but about as useful to normal drivers as a toboggan in high summer.

Driving the 407 on motorways and country roads in Sussex and Hampshire, the car certainly turned heads. It is an impressive looking car. It drives well too, although the 2.0 litre, 136 bhp diesel didn#146;t give the kind of performance that I#146;ve come to expect from modern common-rail oil burners. It was strangely docile. The 2.2 litre, 160 bhp petrol version also was adequate, but nobody sensible really expects hot performance from mid-range cars like this.

The 1.8 litre petrol and 1.6 litre diesel won#146;t have much get-up-and-go though. You will have to wait for the 3.0 litre petrol, or the 2.7 litre V6 diesel versions if you want electrifying performance.

Drives Great If Driven Sensibly

Handling was fine. I have to confess to a certain confusion when the likes of Jeremy Clarkson talk about under-steer and over-steer and turn-in at the limit. Suffice it to say that the car drives perfectly well if you drive it sensibly.

If you do drive it like an idiot, I can#146;t predict how it will handle. The suspension was a bit thumpy and jiggly; how could Peugeot engineers be expected to design a system which worked on roads more akin to the third world here in Britain than France#146;s magnificent highways?

Inside, there is masses of space. Assembly quality, a traditional question-mark over French cars, seemed to be faultless. The dashboard was very smart.

All the switches are easy to find and the dials where you#146;d want them to be.

Digital Readout Would Be Great

The six-speed gear box in the cars I drove was fine, although I often find that with the extra gear comes confusion about exactly what gear I#146;m in. A digital readout on the dashboard saying exactly which gear the car was in would be very useful.

Because of all the new safety and luxury equipment, the 407 weighs about 130 kilos more than the 406 which it replaces. The 407 is also wider and longer than its predecessor.

A neat innovation was the floppy windscreen wipers. They don#146;t have a rigid backbone like conventional wipers, and apparently hug the screen more closely because of this new material. I like the idea that the hazard warning lights come on if the brakes are applied for an emergency stop.

The boot is huge with no sign of any wheel arch intrusion.


Prices start at £14,750 (21,900 euros) for the 1.8 litre petrol saloon in S trim and rise to £22,250 (33,000 euros) for the 3.0 litre V6 automatic. Even the base model includes digital climate control, trip computer, CD player, ultrasonic alarm and front fog lights.

A higher roofed estate car version of the 407 will be introduced later this year; that should finally dash any illusions that it might be related to Ferrari.

Neil Winton #150; May 21, 2004

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