Fleet News

Peugeot 307 SW

Peugeot

Review

PEOPLE looking at these photographs may think this is the first drive of the Peugeot 307 estate.

However, it's time to look again, because this is the 307 SW, a significantly different car from the 307 estate, although both will arrive in showrooms at about the same time at the start of May.

Both cars will also share a wheelbase 100mm longer than the standard 307 hatchback, plus an extra 120mm rear overhang, and they look similar from the outside. The main difference between the two comes down to the flexibility of the interior and seating arrangements.

When the estate goes on sale, it will have a fixed split-folding rear bench, its specification will reflect the 307 hatchback range and it will cost £500 more than the equivalent hatchback.

However, the 307 SW is aimed at buyers of compact MPVs such as the Renault Scenic and Citroen Xsara Picasso, and with the option of specifying up to seven seats Peugeot also sees the 307 SW as a genuine rival for seven-seaters like the Honda Stream and Vauxhall Zafira.

Unlike the forthcoming 307 estate, the 307 SW is aimed more upmarket and is badged S and SE (like the 607) and is not available with the 1.4-litre petrol and diesel engines offered in the hatchback and estate.

Entry-level SWs come with eight airbags, ABS with emergency brake assistance and electronic brake force distribution, remote central locking, adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning, panoramic glass roof with electric blind, aircraft-style tables in the front-seat backs, and an air conditioned glove box.

Peugeot believes that the SW and estate models will make up a third of 307 sales by the end of 2003, although it is cautious about making predictions on the split between the two.

The company feels fleets will generally prefer the estate, although the SW could be a tempting option for a user-chooser.

So far, the fleet/retail split for the 307 hatchback has been 51/49, while 40% of total UK sales have been diesels.

For the year-to-date, the 307 has a 1.88% share of the UK car market, and with the two new variants Peugeot believes it could reach 3% by the end of 2003. Also in the pipeline is the 307 Coupe Cabriolet with an electrically operated hard roof, which is expected to make its first appearance at this year's Paris Motor Show.

And next year the whole range will benefit from the next generation of HDi diesels which will meet Euro IV emissions standards and remove the 3% supplement in company car tax.

Behind the wheel

DISAPPOINTED by the unusual exterior design of the 307 hatchback, I was much happier with the appearance of the SW, which seems to benefit from the longer wheelbase and roofline.

The estate versions will have a very similar profile to the SW, with the more upmarket model (the SW) distinguished by metallic roof rails and the same 'satin chrome' effect door handles.

The interior trims are based on the 307 hatch, which means the slush-moulded dashboards and door trims are colour co-ordinated with the seating fabrics. It lifts the interior of the car and makes the driving environment much more pleasant, and is further boosted by the standard-fit glass roof.

The SW is only available with four engine variants - 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines and the 90bhp and 110bhp 2.0HDi units.

My first encounter with the 307 SW was in the 110bhp 2.0HDi, an engine familiar to thousands of fleet managers. It is still up to the task, providing strong, yet frugal performance, resulting in a combined fuel consumption figure of 52.3mpg. But it is still noisy at lower speeds, only settling down when it gets out on the open road.

Overtaking is lacking in drama, and is made effortless by the ample low-down torque.

The car's ride is firm, though not as comfortable as we have come to expect from medium-sized Peugeots, but the suspension has been changed to compensate for any heavy loads the SW might be required to carry.

On wet French roads between Paris and the Champagne region, grip was highly dependent on the quality of the road surface, and it seems the boffins have engineered 'fun' driving characteristics into the chassis.

The rear can be easily provoked into stepping out when lifting off the throttle mid-bend, requiring some 'opposite lockery' to correct.

A spell in the 2.0-litre petrol found it to be a smooth performer with keen performance around the 4,000rpm mark, although the likely fleet favourites will be the diesels.

Driving verdict

The 307 SW turns in the most car-like driving performance of any compact MPV and is well priced.

The fleet appeal of Peugeot's HDi engines is still strong, and the SW means Peugeot at long last has a major presence in the fast-growing compact MPV sector.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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