The word ‘lifestyle’ has become a marketing shorthand term for more style than space when it comes to estate cars.
Sometimes even the word estate is frowned upon, with manufacturers preferring Touring, Tourer, Sport Tourer, Sport Wagon, Multi Wagon or Sport Cross.
Even proper estates have been made to feel self-conscious or guilty for doing their job. The Vauxhall Vectra estate, which has class-leading luggage capacity, is not content with just being enormous and has to sell itself with its FlexOrganiser.
Meanwhile the Citroen C5 estate has a clever adjustable rear suspension to vary the height of the rear sill for simpler loading or unloading or to make attaching a trailer or caravan easier.
It poses a problem for manufacturers which want a foot in both camps as it invariably leads to compromising either style or carrying capacity.
For Peugeot, style seemed to be the primary focus when developing the 407 SW which joins the saloon range this month.
The SW is a key component in the replacement of the 406 range and shares its specialised SW moniker with the 206 and 307. Peugeot insists SW does not stand for anything in particular, but Sport Wagon would seem to be the likely starting point for the initials.
Peugeot claims the 407 is currently living up to, or perhaps slightly exceeding, expectations for the car with nearly 12,000 fleet sales expected this year from a total of 17,000.
The company’s fleet director, Steve Harris, said Peugeot had been a little surprised by the uptake of diesel for the 407 saloon, currently running at more than 90%.
While Peugeot expected demand for HDi models to be strong, it did not expect them to be snapped up at such a high rate. Harris expects the 407 SW to have slightly more appeal for retail customers than the saloon, but with fleet sales taking a 65% share.
He said: ‘Although we expect a little more retail demand than for the saloon, what makes a car attractive to the retail market can also make it attractive to fleets.’ Peugeot believes the 407’s eye-catching styling, as well as some unique features in its class, will help win new customers.
All SW models come with a panoramic glass roof with an electric blind, comprising four overlapping panels which fold into the rear of the roof and are controlled by a nine-position rotary switch to vary the amount of light let in through the roof. Back at the business end of the SW, the tailgate and rear window can be opened independently and as well as 489 litres of luggage space up to window level with the rear seats in place, there are closed side storage areas with a combined capacity of 23 litres.
The load sill is more than a metre wide and with the rear seats folded and loaded to roof height the 407 SW offers a total luggage capacity of 1,365 litres – more than many people will need but still leaning more towards ‘lifestyle’ estate than load lugger.
However, the front passenger seat back can also be folded forward to extend the 1,730mm load length on one side by almost 1,000mm.
Like the saloon, and unusually for a front-wheel drive car, the 407 SW has double wishbone suspension at the front for more precise handling, and on the safety front, up to nine airbags can be chosen, with seven standard lower down the range.
Four trim levels are available, with S as the entry level model. SE is the sporty mid-range grade, with a luxury pack adding part leather seats. SV is more comfort-biased, with velour trim and wood inserts, while Executive offers full-leather luxury.
Behind the wheel
OUR driving exercise offered an unusual opportunity to try the entry level diesel model in the 407 range.
Some manufacturers resist the temptation to offer modest output diesel models in the upper medium sector to the press, despite them taking a significant proportion of sales, particularly to fleets.
However, here was the 407 SW HDi 110, complete with 1.6-litre common rail diesel keen to shift the car’s 1,496kg mass.
Making its presence felt a little more at idle than the 2.0-litre HDi, the HDi 110 (it isn’t even badged 1.6 HDi) could have a number of psychological barriers to cross with drivers rather than fleet managers.
However, those with short memories seem to forget that the Peugeot 406 was available with a 110bhp diesel engine, from a less efficient 2.0-litre common rail diesel, as well as a 90bhp variant.
With 180lb-ft of torque coming in at 1,750rpm, the HDi 110 never feels fast but gives the impression it’s more than capable of keeping up with the flow of traffic. It records a respectable sprint time from 0-62mph of 12.1 seconds.
The 180lb-ft can be supplemented with the ‘overboost’ function over short distances, temporarily freeing an extra 12lb-ft for that extra turn of speed when overtaking.
As well as some extra noise at idle, the HDi 110 is also a little more audible than the supremely-refined 2.0 HDi 136 on the move. However, a steady spell at 60mpg saw the trip computer readout soar into the mid-50s mpg and higher.
The SW feels quite similar to the saloon to drive, despite its extra length and weight.
There is the same steering precision, resistance to becoming flustered over challenging roads and a super-smooth, high-speed ride.
With the same wheelbase as the saloon, the SW is relatively short of legroom in the rear, especially when compared to the Vectra estate. Low speed ride is also less smooth than at higher speeds, with sudden bumps more noticeable in the cabin.
For the 1,000 or so diesel sceptics who take petrol models among Peugeot 407 business drivers this year, the 2.0-litre feels less lively than the 2.0 HDi, and not as special as the 2.2-litre model which is quieter, slicker and more refined.
THE 407 SW seems to succeed in playing the ‘lifestyle’ card as well as offering decent luggage volume and some practical solutions to carrying more awkward items. It’s still one of the best cars to drive in the sector and the 1.6-litre HDi proves spirited and frugal.
|1.8||2.0||2.2||3.0 V6 auto||HDi 110||2.0 HDi|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||117/5,500||138/6,000||160/5,650||211/6,000||110/4,000||136/4,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||120/4,500||143/4,100||163/3,900||218/3,750||180/1,750||240/2,000|
|Max speed (mph):||122||129 (auto: 125)||134 (127)||140||117||126 (125)|
|0-62mph (sec):||11.7||9.5 (11.2)||9.3 (11.1)||8.7||12.1||10.1 (11.2)|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||34.4||34.0 (32.1)||31.4 (29.4)||28.5||50.4||47.1 (40.9)|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||190||197 (207)||214 (224)||233||148||155 (178)|
|Fuel tank capacity (l/gal):||66/14.5|
|Transmission:||5-sp man;||6-sp man (2.2, 2.0 HDi);||4-sp auto (2.0, 2.2, 2.0 HDi),||6-sp auto (3.0 V6)|
|Service interval (miles):||HDi 110, 12,000;||2.0 HDi and petrol, 20,000|