What we liked
>> 'Sport' handling
Not so much
>> Rear interior space
>> Turning circle
>> Automatic trans
The 407 was slipped on the Australian market in October with a launch at Sydney's Australian Motor Show rather than a national press launch, however its bold styling will ensure it has a strong presence on Australian roads.
In contrast to the blandly-styled 406 it replaces, 407 is a shameless attention-seeker that makes a bold statement on the road. With massive Ferrari-like grille, stylish curves and a steeply-raked A-pillar, its looks should greatly appeal to buyers that want to stand out from the crowd.
407 offers a lot more than just a sexy body, with an impressive range of standard features hidden away by those seductive curves. The new Peugeot offers customers plenty of variety, with four specification levels (ST, ST Executive, ST HDi and SV) and two body styles (sedan and wagon).
Further to that, there are three engines (2.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, 2.0-litre turbo diesel and 3.0-litre V6 petrol) and three transmissions (six-speed manual, six-speed Tiptronic auto and four-speed Tiptronic auto), though each model limits your choice.
Prices start at $42,790 for the ST and rise to $58,000 for the SV Wagon.
Step inside 407 and you discover Peugeot's designers haven't been as adventurous with the interior as they have been with the body. Though attractive enough, the interior is bland and not consistent with the extroverted exterior.
The seats (leather-trimmed in Executive and SV models) are comfortable even over longer distances and the two-way adjustable steering-wheel makes it easy to find a good driving position.
Rear accommodation is for kids only, though teenagers may struggle to sit comfortably in the restricted area. Certainly you can forget sitting back there if you are around 186cm tall or more, unless you like your knees under your chin, and leaning forward so your head doesn't strike the roof. The body is also too narrow to comfortably accommodate three rear-seat adult passengers.
Most controls are well laid out and easy to operate, however the cruise control and steering column-mounted audio control is obscured by the steering wheel spokes, making and difficult to use.
Safety features abound in 407, designed to help you stay out of an accident and to protect you if you still can't avoid hitting something.
ABS with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, electronic stability program and tyre pressure sensors help keep you out of trouble. If you come to a sudden, unplanned stop there's driver's and front passenger airbags, front and side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, retractable steering column and pedals, active front-seat headrests, and pretensioning and force limiting front seatbelts.
There is also automatic activation of hazard lights under emergency braking, and the door will automatically unlock in an accident.
Fitted to ST models, 407's entry-level petrol engine is a 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine producing 116kw @ 5650rpm and 217Nm @ 3900rpm. The ST HDi is powered by a second-generation common rail turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel that pumps out 100kw @ 4000rpm and a healthy 320Nm from a low 2000rpm. The SV employs a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, offering 155kW @ 6000rpm and 290Nm @ 3750rpm.
Both ST engines are mated to six-speed manual or four-speed adaptive/Tiptronic auto transmissions, while SVs have just one transmission -- a six-speed adaptive/tiptronic auto.
Performance? According to Peugeot, the 1555kg ST manual covers 0-100km/h in 9.0sec and has a top speed of 219km/h.
ST auto (1591kg) -- 10.7sec/211km/h;
ST HDi manual (1580kg) -- 9.8sec/207km/h;
ST HDi auto (1616kg) -- 10.7sec/204km/h;
SV (1660kg) -- 8.4sec/235km/h.
The company's city cycle fuel consumption figures are:
ST (man) --12.9;
ST (auto) -- 13.9;
ST HDi (man) -- 7.7;
ST HDI (auto) -- 9.2;
SV (auto) -- 14.5.
ST (man) -- 6.8;
ST (auto) -- 6.9;
ST HDi (man) -- 4.9;
ST HDi (auto) 5.3;
SV -- 7.0.
Buyers in this market have plenty of choices, with many options from Japan and Europe. I you are interested in a 407 and you want something European you should also have a look and a drive of the Renault Laguna, Saab 9-3, Volvo S40/S50 and VW Passat.
Japanese offerings come in the form of Honda's Accord, Nissan's Maxima and Lexus' IS200. For patriotic drivers, Holden's Vectra CDXi will also be of interest.
7 DAY TEST
Model tested: Peugeot 407 SV
Price as tested: $56,690 (metallic paint - $700)
Road tester: Darren House
Date tested: February 2004
Distance covered: 547km
The 407 excites with its looks but the driving experience, though competent, doesn't stir the same kind of feelings.
What immediately takes the wind out of your sails, apart from the unadventurous (though comfortable) interior, is the lacklustre performance from standstill. With the self-shifter to auto adaptive mode, 407 is no traffic light barnstormer and its performance in sport mode is only marginally better, but it does become more responsive as the revs and road speed climb.
In most conditions the gearbox was smooth though at times it was way too harsh off the line, surging the car forward with some force and then shuddering as the 407 came to a halt.
Driving through twisty, hill roads challenged the suspension when set to auto mode, with undulating roads making the car 'float' and tight corners inducing bodyroll. With sports mode dialled into the suspension these characteristics diminish and you can punt the 407 with much more vigour. But even with this improvement the experience lacks involvement.
407 is better suited to smooth European roads than our local bitumen. Drive it on a newly-built freeway and everything is quiet and comfortable, but steer it over some lightly-flawed bitumen and you'll feel -- and hear -- every bump.
The turning circle was another disappointment: often a three-point manoeuvre required a U-turn or entering a shopping centre car park space.
The 407 is a competent, pleasant car but one which lacks character and involvement. For everyday transport it does a commendable job but for those seeking performance to match the looks will be disappointed.
Model tested: Peugeot 407 ST HDi Executive manual
Price as tested: $49,490
Tester: Chris Fincham
Tested: May 9-16, 2005
Total distance covered: 307km
Like the rest of the 407 range the oil burner version comes with an impressive list of standard equipment, and despite costing $3000 more than 2.2-litre petrol variants, still offers good value for money. What's more, the rorty, yet frugal, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel is arguably the pick of the four and six-cylinders on offer.
Priced just shy of $50,000, the 407 Executive manual sedan we tested came with just about everything you'd expect of an upmarket Euro sedan, including leather, heated, electrically-adjustable seats, dual climate control, cruise-control, trip computer, park sensors... the only noticeable omissions were a six-stacker CD (single in-dash unit only) and audio buttons on the steering wheel. A four-speed auto, metallic paint and electric sunroof were the only options.
On the road the turbo-diesel is a strong performer, the engine appearing more muscular than its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder capacity suggests. With just a whiff of turbo lag off the line, it surges strongly to around 4000rpm before running out of puff. With a hefty 320Nm of torque available from just 2000rpm, overtaking and darting in and out of heavy traffic is a breeze, regardless of gear selection. Which is probably a good thing as the six-speed manual in our car was not the smoothest we've tried, with a rubbery, indecisive feel that often made shifting a chore.
Those who enjoy the free-revving nature of a petrol motor will be disappointed, however. But you couldn't fault it for smoothness or quietness, with diesel 'clatter' just noticeable. In fact, cruising along above 60km/h, you'd be hard pressed to guess what's under the bonnet.
One of the best reasons for buying an oil burner is fuel economy, and this is one area where the diesel 407 really shines. Peugeot claims a combined cycle of 5.9litres/100km, and while we didn't manage that, we did achieve a very respectable 7.3l/100km.over 300km of mostly city driving.
There's no denying the 407 has its weakpoints (average ride, uninspiring handling, cramped rear seats), but it still impresses as a comfortable, classy family-sized cruiser. Despite the rise and rise of petrol rises, you'd still need to do the sums on potential fuel savings to justify the extra upfront costs for the diesel. But for those planning to do plenty of kilometres, or hang onto the car for a few years, it could be the perfect solution.