Another 4x4? Just what the world needs...
Are the Europeans displaying poor timing by jumping on the 4x4 bandwagon just as the environmental question is ratcheting up to new heights? Perhaps, but there’s no denying the popularity of the segment and Ford, Vauxhall and the French can’t afford to ignore this potentially lucrative market. Hence the glut of 4x4s making the leap from motor show stands to a showroom near you. The French duo of Peugeot and Citroen has teamed up with Mitsubishi for a shortcut to their first SUVs, the all-but-identical 4007 and C-Crosser. They’re unashamedly based on the Japanese-built Outlander, but have individual family looks inside and out. Welcome then, to Peugeot’s first proper SUV. The double-zero denotes this is a niche product within the line-up (like the sliding door 1007) and it’s designed to cater for a whole category of buyer who previously deserted the French brands for other people’s 4x4s. Allez les véhicules à quatre roues motrices!
It looks very like the Mitsubishi Outlander...
It’s true; although the front has a distinctive style of its own, the giveaway is at the rear, with the sharply angled rear windows and same-again hatchback. But the overall package is pretty distinctive and our black test car looked remarkably slick, once you get used to that huge, gaping shark-mouth grille. One very useful design feature is the split tailgate - Range Rover style - that allows you to lift the smaller top section if you’re just dropping lightweight bags in the boot; if you want full unimpeded access, or fancy staging an improntu picnic, the bottom section folds down in an instant, making it easy to slide in big items.
Is it just like the Outlander to drive?
It’s not dissimilar, as you’d expect. The 4007 is an impressive drive for this type of car, with a really good engine. It only sells in the UK with the latest PSA 2.2 diesel, which provides ample grunt at all speeds and is an admirably hushed installation, with no clatter or vibration. Or indeed much in the way of noise full stop. It's just as well nobody wants a petrol SUV in this class - this diesel's a belter. And it performs strongly, feeling faster than the 9.9sec claim to 62mph suggests. Thank the solid 285lb ft of torque arriving at an early 2000rpm, allowing instant squirts of acceleration past slower traffic. 'Ah, but I bet it handles like a dog,' I hear you say. Again, we were pleasantly surprised. This 4007 actually tackles corners like a hatchback rather than a hunchback - it's remarkably pointy and agile for a 1825kg 4x4. And it rides well, too. Just when you expect it to clunk over a pothole, the suspension soaks it up with a muffled absorbency. Very tidy.
What’s the interior like? Is it Franco-Pacific fusion?
You've got it. There's next to no effort to differentiate the 4007 from its Outlander DNA - the dials, switches, air vents - you name it, they're all pretty much identical. Not that the fuel gauge will move much; the 2.2 HDI averages 38.6mpg while pumping out 194g/km of the bad stuff. That's on our test car's optional 18-inch wheels - stick with the standard rims if you want to trim a few points off those figures for tax reasons. It's a roomy cabin, with plenty of space for five passengers to lounge in acres of head- and legroom. In fact, any SUV haters who are used to family clutter should spend a day or two in a 4007. Roominess is one of the biggest luxuries around, and you won't be short on space in this car. Quality is impressive, and that Japanese build is reassuring. All the switchgear prods, presses and swivels with a confidence-inspiring tactility. Hell, it's a comfortable place to be - not especially stylish, but perfect for the job in hand.
Those rear seats are a joke! It can't be very practical?
Those weird, alien-inspired rear seats lift up from the boot with a bit of careful tugging, prodding and pulling. They're not the simplest pop-up seats we've used (that honour belongs to the Ford S-Max) and they're not the roomiest by a long chalk (step forward, Land Rover Discovery), but this is a pair of honest, part-time pews for occasional lifts on the school run. Or a very rare run back from the pub for desperate mates. At least they fold flat, leaving a roomy boot that's big and easy to load. The split tailgate works well in practice, too, and it's a cinch to fold down the middle-row seats if you need more room.
Peugeot 4007: the verdict
As you can probably tell, we rather liked the 4007. What it lacks in kudos compared with the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3, it makes up for in competitive pricing, a polished drive and generous kit. Only two models are available: the 2.2 HDI in SE (£22,790) and GT (£25,490) spec. Yes, that's a steephish price, but don't forget an equivalent top-spec Freelander diesel is nearer £30k and the cheapest BM is £28k. You could hold on for a while longer in the hope that Peugeot introduces a smaller engine, but there's no indication of a budget model any time soon. And the Citroen C-Crosser sister car is no cheaper - both French relatives are identically priced (unless you start haggling, of course). Yes, the 4007 was one of 2007's biggest shocks. We didn't have high hopes for Peugeot's first SUV, and they surprised us.