The urban cycle test starts with a cold engine and comprises a series of accelerations, steady speeds, decelerations and idling.
Maximum speed is 31mph, average speed is 12mph and the distance covered is 2.5 miles. It is followed immediately by the extra urban cycle test, half of which comprises steady driving with the remainder being accelerations, decelerations and idling over 4.3 miles.
The combined cycle, which is taken as an indication of what a car can realistically achieve, is an average of the two parts, weighted by the distances covered in each one. Is it any wonder that most drivers struggle to reach the combined figure? Wouldn’t it be easier if manufacturers stated in small print that real fuel economy figures can go down as well as up?
I’m not singling out Peugeot, as we have recently driven many new, supposedly frugal diesels and failed to achieve the official figure for the combined cycle. Our long-term Volvo S40, Ford Focus C-MAX and Volkswagen Passat have all been guilty.
The new engine in the Peugeot 307 achieved 57.6mpg on the combined cycle, but in our hands struggled to improve on 50mpg.
On the motorway the trip computer would creep into the 50s, but it was such a chore to try to keep it there that I worried that driving wasn’t getting my full attention. This disappointment aside, the engine gives the 307 an important boost at a critical time in its life cycle.
It comes soon after the launch of the new Volkswagen Golf, new Vauxhall Astra and the Mazda3 diesel, with the new Ford Focus and Citroen C4 on the horizon.
The 1.6-litre second generation HDi engine is apparently so versatile, it is offered in a sporty version of the Peugeot 206 as well as being the entry-level diesel in the 407 range. In the 307, it offers 110bhp and 180lb-ft – more or less on a par with the Golf 1.9 TDI, but with a more softly-spoken delivery.
Quiet around town and on the motorway, noise only really becomes intrusive approaching the 4,000rpm mark, an area of the rev counter you rarely need to go in a diesel.
The engine is responsive from about 1,500rpm, and while it might not provide the kick-in-the-backside acceleration of more expensive diesels, it is more than a match for a similar petrol engine.
The 307 doesn’t have the poise of the Ford Focus, but it copes well on challenging roads with neat handling and a supple ride.
I’m not entirely happy with the appearance of the 307 hatchback – the longer estate and SW have better proportions and next to the bolder Vauxhall Astra, it would lose a straw poll on which was the better looking.
Our SE car was well equipped, with climate control, electric windows, a dashboard-mounted five-CD autochanger, lots of airbags and other passive safety equipment. As a lower-medium diesel, it stacks up quite well overall – no disclaimer necessary.
Peugeot 307 HDi 110 SE
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £15,667
CO2 emissions (g/km): 129
BIK % of P11D in 2004/05: 15%
Graduated VED rate: £115
Insurance group: 7
Combined mpg: 57.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,700/30%
Depreciation (16.55 pence per mile x 60,000): £9,930
Maintenance (2.04 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,224
Fuel (7.14 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,284
Wholelife cost (25.73 pence per mile x 60,000): £15,438
Typical contract hire rate: £309 per month
Three rivals to consider
ALL of our comparison cars are closely matched on price, but there are a few disparities in engine power. The Corolla has 114bhp from its 2.0-litre engine, while the Renault offers 120bhp from its Megane 1.9 dCi – the 100bhp Megane 1.5 dCi comes only in lower trim levels. The Peugeot has about 110bhp from its 1.6-litre HDi engine while the Astra musters 100bhp from its 1.7 CDTi. All have generous equipment levels.
THE Peugeot 307 would run up an SMR bill of about £1,224 over three years/60,000 miles, but Toyota seems to have done its homework, undercutting the 307 by £24. It’s all the more remarkable when you consider that the Toyota would have more visits to the dealer over 60,000 miles. Having said that, the Renault and Vauxhall are not far behind, both costing about £1,320 over three years/60,000 miles.
TOP marks for Peugeot here, despite our attempts to achieve the ambitious figures in combined fuel consumption (57.6mpg) failing. The estimated cost based on this figure is £4,284. The new Vauxhall Astra also scores well, working out about £258 more expensive than the 307. Despite being the most powerful and having the greatest torque, the Megane is still in touch on £4,716. The Corolla does poorly overall – its frugal 1.4 D-4D available lower down the range cannot compete with these others on power, leaving the 2.0-litre costing £4,974 over 60,000 miles.
NOT a bad round for the Peugeot with cash lost adding up to just under £10,000 over three years/60,000 miles. However, the Corolla, despite having a P11D price £55 higher than the 307 would actually lose £600 less through depreciation. The new Vauxhall Astra would cost nearly £300 more than the Peugeot in depreciation, while the Megane would have a depreciation bill £700 higher than the 307.
THE Peugeot wins the running costs battle from the Toyota, but only by £66 over three years/60,000 miles. What the Peugeot loses in depreciation to the Corolla, it makes up for in fuel economy. The Vauxhall Astra is more than £600 more expensive than the 307. The Renault Megane suffers the worst depreciation and is £1,260 more than the Peugeot. However, if you are prepared to scrimp on kit, there is the option of the more efficient Megane 1.5 dCi.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
WITH Euro IV diesel and the lowest carbon dioxide emissions by some margin the Peugeot offers the lowest company car tax liability. A 22% taxpayer in the 307 can expect to contribute £43 a month to Treasury coffers, although the Astra is only 21p more expensive. As a Euro III compliant car the Megane has the 3% diesel supplement added to its BIK band and would cost the same driver nearly £53 a month, while the Euro IV Corolla has the highest emissions and could cost £46 a month this year, rising to £49 after April 2005.
THE Peugeot’s diesel engine is a class act, offering strong performance, refinement and low emissions. However, the Corolla almost matched it in our running costs comparison, losing out only in the tricky issue of fuel costs. We would look to the Corolla’s better equipment level and stronger residuals to just sneak away with the win from the 307.
Winner: Toyota Corolla T Spirit