Peugeot’s 407 looks interesting. Appealing, many would say, given that midsize saloons usually do about as much to quicken the pulse as an episode of Gardener’s Question Time – and even more so in five-door SW form.
Closer inspections have so far clouded that appeal. When we road tested it in saloon form (3 August), great driving dynamics to match its avant garde looks duly emerged. Only limited practicality and a flawed ride qualified our positive verdict.
A drive in the SW version suggested that the station wagon might address those criticisms. Then, in £18,550, 2.0-litre HDi form, the 407 demonstrated improved usability and a handy price tag to match. On that basis, the 1.6-litre diesel station wagon driven here ought to be even better; it pitches in at £16,650 - some £900 cheaper than the cheapest 2.0-litre oil-burner.
PSA’s Ford co-developed 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine actually has a marginally longer stroke than its larger sibling, but a narrower bore. Armed with 110bhp and 180lb ft, it doesn’t feel short on torque. Teamed with a five-speed gearbox, it makes this 407 two seconds slower, at 12.1sec to 62mph, than the six-speed, 2.0-litre diesel, and slower also through each of its five taller ratios. However, it’s quieter and requires fewer gear changes than its more potent range mate, and what results is an estate that’s a deal more refined and relaxing to drive.
The SW’s extended rear overhang and roofline makes it more convincing everyday transport for family plus baggage than its booted sibling. Admittedly, it’s no Vectra Estate in the accommodation department; a 1365-litre maximum is trumped by almost every other station wagon in its class, plus a few below it. However, its various luggage nets, storage compartments, low 615mm loading height and high-opening tailgate ensure that what space it does possess can be put to good use.
There are two trim levels available in tandem with the smaller diesel – basic S, or SE for a further £1000. Seven airbags, climate control, the panoramic roof, and the opening rear window are standard; spending £1000 more buys alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, an oil temperature gauge, body coloured door handles and automatic lights and wipers. Both miss out on desirable extras such as a cruise control and rear parking sensors, but you can add them for an acceptable £400.