Currently reading: Road test rewind: Peugeot 407
Fantastic handling made the 407 a standout repmobile – for those unfussed about ride

This week we rewind the clock back to 2004, when Peugeot's latest saloon was turning heads for all the right reasons:

Back in 1995, the Peugeot 406 was voted European Car of the Year. Good looks, fine handling and excellent space made it a worthy winner. And it was far from a dry year: the Peugeot saw off challenges from such distinguished competition as the E39-generation BMW 5 Series – often touted as the finest executive car ever made.

Now, we have an all-new Peugeot saloon, one whose dramatic looks hide a chassis that – according to its maker’s bold claims – will return Peugeot to dominance in the family saloon market.

In a class where anonymity is the norm, Peugeot’s in-house design team deserves credit for thinking outside the three-box in creating the 407. The styling takes time to get used to, but drive a 407 around town and you’ll get the sort of reaction that Ford Mondeo man will never experience: people really do point, stare, question and compliment.

8 Peugeot 407 hero side

To cut weight, Peugeot engineers have employed aluminium for the roof and bonnet, and aluminium alloy subframes support double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear. But at 1505kg, the car is among the heaviest in class.

It hits 60mph in 9.6sec, 0.2sec behind the Mondeo TDCi 128, and 100mph in 29.0sec, 3.0sec slower than the Ford. With 33.3mph per 1000rpm in sixth, you’ll need fifth gear for overtaking, the pay-off being near-silent running at 70mph.

If going around corners quickly is your priority, the 407 is peerless. The petrol version pulled over 1.0g around Brands Hatch in our search for Britain’s best driver’s car – a respectable figure for a sports car 10 years ago.

Body control is awesome, with no pitch or dive over speed humps, and the absence of body roll when attacking corners gives the car a real sense of agility.

The speed-sensitive power steering has little feel, but there’s a better simulation of feedback than you’ll find in most electrohydraulic set-ups and it’s well weighted and responsive.

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All that body control comes at a price. On UK roads, the firm springs and dampers fail to prevent constant fidget. Lateral intrusions cause the back end to skip and there’s more suspension noise than we’d like, too.

7 Peugeot 407 static side

Verdict - 3.5/5

Make no mistake: the 407 is a good car. In fact, it does a few things quite brilliantly, and sports car dynamics and brave looks are two qualities that we hold in high regard. However, we do have reservations about the 407’s ride quality and practicality. It only just misses a four-star score.

A surprise awaited as at Brands Hatch - Alastair Clements

At our 2004 Britain’s Best Driver’s Car event, alongside the Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Caterham R500 Evolution sat a Peugeot 2.0-litre saloon. It was the high point of a remarkable year for the pretty but porridgy 406 replacement, Peugeot’s attempt to reignite the spark of driver appeal that had so marked out the 405.

6 Peugeot 407 interior

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It certainly worked on paper. Through the bends of Brands Hatch, the 407 pulled 1.0g, then an unheard-of figure for a mass-produced repmobile. The car’s double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension endowed it with fantastic body control, loads of grip and remarkable agility. It looked quite unlike anything else in the class, too.

But we were perhaps guilty of getting a little too carried away by the looks and handling, because they also created significant compromises. The 407’s thrusting low-drag shape resulted in a small boot and even worse rear-passenger space, and the ride was pretty terrible away from the billiard-table- smooth Brands blacktop. Inevitably, against the wider talents of the Ford Mondeo and Honda Accord, it struggled. But still, 1.0g!


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bmused66 20 August 2020

Underrated and unfairly maligned

Bought my 2006 407 Coupé in 2014 with only 27.5K miles on it.Handling was very good, much better than my 406 Coupé that replaced. The 2.2 engine was basically the same as in the 406.  But that 6th gear was all important. Made for a much quieter cruise.As for the review suggesting the ride was terrible... they must have been on crack during the test drive, the 407 was far smoother on the typical british road in comparison to the 406 and Vectra I drove at that time.

The super comfy seats made it even better.  I drove from Edinburgh down to the channel tunnel, then off to mid way through Germany. When I got to where I was going, I got out the car and felt like I had just driven down to the local supermarket. 2 hours in my mate's 5 year old Mondeo and I am ready to stop and stretch my legs.Build quality was also miles above it's competition. When I sold my 407 in Feb 2020 there were no squeek or rattles in the cabin. Nothing.  No rust on the body panels, plastics still jet black.My mates 5 year old Mondeo has a horrible squeek that makes itself known as soon as the car reaches 25mph or more. It seems to be coming from the dash. Rubber door seals like to.. well, not seal.The 407's styling was leaps ahead of all the euroboxes on the road at the time the 407 was launched. It wasn't to everyones taste but it stood out for a good distance.I got my 407 Coupé for £2900 and it was A LOT of car for the money.Still see lots of them on the road too.

jameshobiecat 20 August 2020

Least reliable car I've ever

Least reliable car I've ever owned, but it cornered well. The front end was quite eager on turn in, it gripped well and when it did begin to break away it would do so from both ends simultaneously; more than once I achieved some nice four wheel drifts. However, the big front overhang was a pain when parking and a series of electrical issues, power steering problems, a clutch and a flywheel on my 3year old example racked up some big bills.
This car never got close to matching the appeal the 406 coupe that preceded it on my driveway and it was scarcely given a second thought when it departed after two years.
streaky 20 August 2020

The start of mediocrity

The 407 marked the start of that bad period, which Peugeot has only recently emerged from, where all of its USPs: ride, handling and Pininfarina styling were chucked out of the window.  The styling always looked as if the front of a larger car had been welded to the back of a much smaller one.  The huge front overhang and gaping grille doesn't help either.  I've never ridden in one, so I didn't realised how much the ride, in particular, was messed up.