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Peugeot 407 1.6 HDI (2008) review

Published:07 July 2008

Peugeot 407 1.6 HDI (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 2 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

Peugeot doesn’t really do facelifts. Look at any model over the years, and there is rarely any mid-life new radicalism. But even by these standards, the ‘new’ 407 is hard to spot. New bumpers include a 308-style rear diffuser. All models get the colour-coding previously restricted to V6 models. And – we're struggling here – the tail lights are new.

Come on! Surely there’s more to the Peugeot 407 facelift than that!

You reckon? Okay, the 407's massive front overhang is available with much-needed parking sensors, and 18-inch wheels now ruin the ride of the 2.2 HDI, not just the V6. And there are new colours. Oh, and the grille is different too – it seems people didn’t like seeing the cooling fans through it (what, you wonder, do they think a grille is for…).

We’re hardly talking a revolution here; even the revised 407's interior, save for some piano black dash trim and different upholsteries, is the same as before. Which means dated and button-laden, in our view.

Does anyone actually buy the 407 any more?

Gone are the days when the 405/406/407 made up the bulk of Peugeot's sales. Ninety percent of UK registrations are for fleet sales and the majority of buyers are downsizing, buying German premium makes, or picking cooler SUVs, MPVs or cabrios instead.

So far in 2008, Peugeot has barely sold 2400 of the 407 in the UK. And because it's (relatively) small fry, Peugeot hasn't spent much on the facelift.

There are, however, some mechanical tweaks. So a Euro V emissions-compliant diesel comes later this summer – the 2.0 HDI has software tweaks to give 140bhp, improve economy, plus reduce emissions and noise.

Click 'Next' to read our on-road driving impressions of the facelifted 407

 

Speaking of green, is there some sort of eco special 407?

No Bluemotion rival here. Peugeot points out the best-selling 1.6 HDI 110 emits 140g/km and averages 53.3mpg: a Passat Bluemotion is barely any better, and those figures apply to all trims, not just a green special.

Don't forget, Peugeot sells hardly any petrol 407s. If you do insist on filling up at the green pump, it will offer a 2.0-litre ‘Bioflex’, which can use E85 bioethanol, but seeing as almost nobody can get the fuel in the UK, we can’t see anyone buying this car. All those diesels get particulate filters, anyway.

Remind me, then, why should I like the 407?

It’s really good to drive. This car doesn’t get enough credit for how it goes; not many in this class get all-round double-wishbone suspension, dripping in aluminium, nor a trick front axle to (successfully) kill understeer and improve steering precision. The 1.6 HDI we drove was deathly slow, but very agile, had eye-watering front end grip, lots of poise and super-low levels of bump steer that made it feel really really sporty when driven with vim.

We also tested the 2.7 V6 (that Jag-derived engine that powers everything from the new XF to the Citroen C6). The delay after pressing the throttle from rest could kill you at junctions, but it’s the mushy feel of its electronic dampers that really upset us.

Pick the V6 and you lose the litheness of the standard model, the crisp steering response and any sense of feedback. It has a flatter ride, but big wheels destroy any compliancy with a thudding staccato soundtrack as you encounter any corrugations in the road. Not a great feeling.

Click 'Next' for our verdict on the Peugeot 407 facelift

Verdict

If you like interesting cars to drive, the 407 still does the business. Best bet is the 2.0 HDI 140, with just enough go to exploit the excellent chassis. We rate the regular 407s highly as a driving device.

However, it's hard to rank the Peugeot 407 ahead of the excellent Ford Mondeo and VW Passat. And don't forget the new Vauxhall Insignia is on the way, too... Who’s going to spend money on a same-again Peugeot that even Peugeot’s losing interest in?

We can see that many businesses will spend the company money on a boggo BMW 3-series or Audi A4. Which in many ways is understandable, but it's also a bit of a shame. If ever there was a car offering more than meets the eye, it’s the Peugeot 407.

Specs

Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK: September 2008
Engine: 1560cc 4cyl, 110bhp @ 4000rpm, 191lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 11.7sec 0-62mph, 119mph, 53.3mpg, 140g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1430kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4690/1811/1442

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Photo Gallery

  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: front view photo
  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: front three-quarters photo
  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: side view photo
  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: interior photo
  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: interior photo
  • Peugeot 407 1.6 HDi: rear three-quarters photo
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