Diesel SW does nicely

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.

Doing so provides the cleanest, most frugal, and most broadly talented 407 on the market. It’s the only five-door 407 that returns upwards of 50mpg on the combined cycle. It’s the only one that qualifies for the lowest 15 per cent company car tax bracket. And it costs only £800 more than the entry level 1.8-litre petrol station wagon. Now that’s appealing. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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