However, the SW’s bottom does the 407’s nose better justice, with Peugeot’s ambition to build a volume car that has overall visual impact – more fulfilled than in the saloon.
Some think it looks great, others awful. And does building an estate that has the dramatic ending of a Hollywood blockbuster compromise its number one function: carrying large quantities?
This is predominantly a fleet car, a working vehicle to replace the extremely capable 406 estate, and killing off loadspace in the name of keeping up appearances could have a seriously detrimental effect in a market unconcerned with the niceties of aesthetics.
The rear of the SW is deceiving because the wraparound rear screen seems to camouflage its size.
It looks like an elongated hatchback and the opening to the luggage compartment is an odd shape, especially at the top where it is very narrow and for a driver who regularly has to carry large box-shaped items, it’s not ideal.
In fact, looking at load volumes to the roof, it’s noticeable the 407 increases by around 900 litres with the seats down and the above-the- window capacity included, while the big estates in the sector, like the Ford Mondeo, Mazda6, Citroen C5 and Vauxhall Vectra increase by between 1,100 and 1,300 litres.
Volumes for the 407 are not quite down at the token levels of the Audi A4 Avant, but it’s not far off. With the seats in place and the narrow roof space not included, below-the-window volume is 512 litres, which is about the same as a Mondeo saloon. This is not a huge load lugger.
Space has been liberated by making the estate just under 10cms longer than the saloon, with all of that extra length incorporated into the rear overhang. The rear window can also operate separately of the boot lid and can be unlocked from the keyfob.
The panoramic glass sunroof comes as standard on even this, the entry-level SW and is a classy addition.
It might be little in stature, but the 110bhp 1.6-litre HDi packs a decent punch. It’s quiet, smooth and even though a new engine, was delivering fuel consumption close to its official combined figure.
After a week of driving, I began to wonder if the 2.0-litre HDi was really necessary. The bigger diesel is noticeably quicker, but surely outright speed isn’t the point of this vehicle. Perhaps the 110 would get found out with a heavy load, but otherwise it’s a fine engine.
So this is a classy entrant to the range for Peugeot. The engine also does its job well and for the vast majority of company car drivers, except those who really need the maximum space possible, the oddly shaped and rather small boot space will suffice as well.
Three rivals to consider
BEING the entry models in each of their respective line-ups, none of these cars is laden down with equipment, but there is still the odd delight: the 407’s Panoramic sunroof, the Mondeo’s handy QuickClear heated windscreen and rain-sensitive windscreen wipers and alloy wheels for the Laguna, although the Renault doesn’t come with a CD player as standard. As for engines, the Peugeot has the smallest by a distance, but it doesn’t lose out on power, so its size shouldn’t be a consideration.
THE trusty old Passat wins the service, maintenance and repair comparison with a pence-per-mile figure of 2.16, which makes it about £80 cheaper than the next-best Laguna. Smaller tyres help as well. For a new car, the 407 doesn’t fare particularly well, and would cost £1,470 – £174 more than the Passat.
THE excellent engines in the French cars return superb combined fuel consumption figures of 50.4mpg each. That means a pence-per-mile figure of 8.16ppm and a total cost for fuel over 60,000 miles of £4,900. The older pumpe duse engine in the Passat and the large 2.0-litre TDCi can’t compete on fuel costs, but neither are poor: 8.73ppm and 8.29ppm result in the Mondeo costing £5,238 and the Laguna £4,974. You can’t lose with any of these cars on that front.
DEPRECIATION is a reflection of original price here. The most expensive at the front end, the Mondeo, loses the most in pence-per-mile depreciation, while the cheapest, the Passat, loses the least. The difference between the least and most is about £1,800. The Mondeo struggles badly with residual losses while the popularity of the Passat’s Volkswagen badge with used buyers seems to protect it. The 407 doesn’t break the mould for volume fleet cars on RVs, but a 30% CAP figure and 18.14ppm isn’t disastrous.
A BIG 2.0-litre engine and high depreciation means the Ford Mondeo struggles on wholelife costs, while the cheap Volkswagen Passat is still proving a bargain, despite coming to the end of its life. The Peugeot 407 comes a creditable second, thanks to good SMR, excellent fuel economy and average residual values, and the Renault Laguna isn’t far behind. At 28.75ppm, the 407 would cost £17,250, while the best – the Passat – would cost a fleet £16,482. That’s quite a saving if it’s over a number of vehicles.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
THE Peugeot 407 is a clear winner when it comes to benefit-in-kind tax. It’s the only one of the cars here that is Euro IV compliant and is therefore in the 15% tax band. Its small engine limits emissions as well, with 148g/km of CO2 excellent for a vehicle in this class. A 22% taxpayer would have a £553 bill in 2004. The Mondeo, with its high front end price and larger engine giving off the highest emissions at 159g/km, would end up costing the same driver £695.
THE second best wholelife costs and the best benefit-in-kind tax rates, alongside decent specification and those controversial looks, make the Peugeot 407 SW a winner here. If it’s all about filling the car to the rafters, the 1,600-litre Passat is a better bet, but in the vast majority of cases the swanky SW will fulfil the dual role of fleet workhorse and stylish company car.
Peugeot 407 SW HDi 110
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £16,747
CO2 emissions (g/km): 148
BIK % of P11D in 2004: 15%
Graduated VED rate: £115
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 50.4
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,975/30%
Depreciation (18.14 pence per mile x 60,000): £10,884
Maintenance (2.37 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,422
Fuel (8.16 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,896
Wholelife cost (28.75 pence per mile x 60,000): £17,250 Typical contract hire rate: £349