Strange how the charms of a five-year old design suddenly become beguiling when it becomes your constant companion for a week. Take a bow the Peugeot 307 SW.
I remember road-testing Peugeot’s family wagon a couple of years ago, when ‘mini-MPVs’ were the hottest thing, and wondering where the 307SW fitted in. Now I know.
Roomy, quiet, crisp-steering and with a usefully flexible interior, the 307 SW fitted a family holiday around Tuscany last week like pesto matches trofie pasta. Hertz rented us a 1.6-litre HDi diesel in five-seat configuration, leaving a huge boot that swallowed four big bags and a McLaren buggy, all below the load bay cover – important for security.
Our kids had as much legroom as in our Volvo V70, the front seats had fold out tables, and better still the rear seat backs reclined. Forget engineered-in refinement, because as any harassed dad will tell you the biggest improvement possible in cabin refinement are sound-asleep two- and four-year-old boys.
At times like this you wonder if a 90bhp diesel is the perfect everyday motor. Often we were the fastest car on the road, despite averaging nearly 50mpg over 900km, while the HDi lugged admirably up the hilly E45 through the Tiber Valley.
Much of this road, carried on spectacular viaducts, is as rough as some I drove in Morocco earlier this year. Critically, the Peugeot’s suspension soaked this lot up while driving sweetly along more typical Tuscan sweepers.
Another revelation was refinement. When we jumped back in the Volvo at Stansted, the increase in road and engine noise was remarkable.
And you couldn't ask for cheaper, right now. Bargain hunters will delight in the news that the 307 SW is in run-out at the moment, which means they're cheap to buy both nearly new and used. High mileage second-hand examples start at just over £3k, while £11k will secure a low mileage, six-month-old example from a car supermarket. I'm sorely tempted.