Fleet News

Peugeot 307 1.4HDi

Peugeot

Review

WE are based in Peterborough, which is not the most picturesque place in the world. The landscape is as flat as a pancake. It depends on 'big skies' for aesthetic merit.

I would like a hill or two to break up the wide open spaces, being a yokel from the rolling vales of Wiltshire, but after spending a week in the company of the Peugeot 307 LX 1.4 HDi 70bhp I was thankful for Cambridgeshire's horizontal plane.

The reason? This car makes mountains out of molehills and is staggeringly underpowered.

The 1.4 diesel motor is extremely quiet, refined, has brilliantly low emissions (120g/km of CO2) and is very frugal at 62.8mpg on the combined cycle. At motorway speeds there is barely a whisper. Fantastic. Except with a meagre 70bhp it takes the 307 more than 16 seconds to tiptoe to 62mph from standstill. In-gear acceleration is equally gentle and driving anywhere requires foot to the floor stuff to keep it going. Should you end up coming towards a hill it is best to get a run at it, even though as a diesel you should think the torque would keep it going. It doesn't.

Any driver that has to do anything but in-town driving will find the 70bhp unbelievably slow. A six grand 1.0-litre petrol Perodua Kenari will beat it to 62mph by over a second.

The 2.0 HDi makes much more sense. It is still low on emissions (138g/km) and tax and has superb fuel economy (54.3mpg), but will not frustrate like the 1.4 HDi.

Fortunately the gearbox is able to shift very quickly between ratios so that no precious momentum is lost although there is a lot of 'stir' when the lever is slotted home, which doesn't give it a well-engineered feel.

The brakes bite like Mike Tyson. Stopping power is mightily impressive with discs all round, ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist. With six airbags as well and a four star Euro NCAP crash rating, it is a very safe vehicle which gives me the feeling Peugeot is looking to sell this model as a ferry-the-kids about car.

Spec-wise, the 307 has heated door mirrors, height adjustments for the seats, electric front windows and remote central locking and feels well built. A single CD player costs £100 extra.

As with all 307s, the seating position is pretty good, as is the visibility and it manages to complete the trick of being high and spacious without looking like a bus.

Should it become somebody's company car, the version costs £12,560 on-the-road, which with its super-low emissions still only qualifies it for a 22% taxpayer works out a meagre £497 a year.

Residual values are excellent, which proves there must be a demand out there. CAP predicts it being worth 37%/£4,650 after three years/60,000 miles, which is about the best of the much-vaunted 307 range.

The problem is that the following cars will also put the driver in the same tax bracket, are all within £400 of P11D give or take, but have one major advantage over the 1.4 HDi in that they are not remotely as slow. They are the Ford Focus 1.8 TDdi CL 5dr, Vauxhall Astra 1.7 DTi 16v Envoy 5dr, Toyota Corolla 2.0 D-4D T2 5dr, Renault Megane 1.9 dCi Expression, Fiat Stilo 1.9JTD Active 115 and are all strong alternatives.

The competition might not be as good on fuel economy, which might make the 307 a fleet manager's choice, but I cannot see most drivers choosing it over the others unless they are happy to potter about. As a fleet car, the 1.4 HDi seems off the pace, conceptually and literally.

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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