Big but economical
I love the shape of the Peugeot 407. It's long and slinky, it has real presence on the road, and that gaping grill looks as though it's about to gobble up any car foolish enough to hang about in front.
For a biggish car it's economical too. My 2.0 ST on one trip to the coast averaged better than 7 l/100 km. On my daily commute between Joburg and Pretoria I average just over 8 l/100 km. Fuel consumption figures may be less sexy than acceleration and maximum speed, but they're a lot more important than most road testers would like to admit. Invariably they'll belt about in the top-of-the-range models with the most power, raving about performance, conveniently forgetting that most car owners aren't robot to robot hooligans. And yes, most of us have to pay for our own petrol!
Also important, if you have a family, is rear-seat legroom, another area most road-testers can't really be bothered about. And it's here that the 407, despite its greater length, falls short of its predecessor, the 406. To my surprise, when I compared the two, the 407 had 7 cm less space in the back, although it's still a comfortable place to be.
A little annoying
Another small annoyance; the 406 had its glove box catch conveniently positioned on the right side of the lid so it was within easy reach of the driver. On the 407 it's back in the middle. Other niggles; a speedo measured in 20 km segments from 10 km/h upwards, so there's no marking for 120 km/h, only for 110 km/h and 130 km/h, and a tyre-pressure warning sign that comes on the moment the pressure slips below the recommended figure. In practice this means that you have to over-inflate the tyres, with a consequently harder ride, to prevent the light coming on.
But my biggest problem with the 407 - the 2.0 ST at least - is one I've never seen commented on by any road tester, probably because the only tests I've seen have been of the 2.2 Sport. And that is that the five-speed 2.0 ST is seriously undergeared. At the legal limit, it's revving at 3 400 r/min and although the car will go a lot faster, the engine becomes uncomfortably noisy at anything above 130 km/h. Maybe that?s why you see so many 407 2.0STs for sale and hardly any of the 6-speed 2.2s.
Cost of parts
My car's a 2004 model with 50 000km on the clock. The flimsy catch on the CD box between the front seats is broken, there's a faint whirring noise coming from the driveline and a clonk from somewhere to the right rear. After a lot of begging, Peugeot have promised to sort these problems out under the 100 000km maintenance plan, but they're reluctant because of the cost of spare parts. (R3 000 for the CD box lid alone.)
And that's the final problem. Peugeots are fully imported, so unlike those cars built or assembled in South Africa, there's always going to be a problem getting them fixed when they go wrong. When I took the car in for its last service I was given a lift to work along with two other Peugeot owners. One turned to me and asked me whether I was happy with my car. I said "Not entirely!" and the two women in the car with me burst out laughing. Enough said!
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