AT first glance paying more than £22,000 for a Peugeot 407, or indeed any upper-medium car from a volume manufacturer, seems on the steep side.
But nowadays it’s the going rate for a range-topping model and it seems that most car firms are pushing their offerings up the price scale. Toyota, Renault and Volkswagen all have top-spec estates in this price sector, and Peugeot is now muscling in on the act.
And muscling is an apt phrase as the new range-topping 407 SW has plenty of it – it is the first Peugeot to run the PSA group’s new twin-turbo 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, offering 170bhp and 277lb-ft of torque.
It bridges the gap between the core 2.0-litre HDi with 136bhp and the less mainstream 3.0-litre 205bhp V6 diesel. Although the 2.2 HDi sits evenly in power terms between the two, on the road it feels far closer to the V6.
Unlike the V6, the 2.2 is available with a six-speed manual gearbox which immediately makes it feel sportier. And, joy of joys, the gearbox action doesn’t feel as vague as it does on must other Peugeots – this unit has a far more positive action between the gate and suits the sporting intent of this car much better.
On the move the engine remains fairly subdued noise-wise, especially when cruising on the motorway. There are also impressively low levels of wind noise from the A-pillars, too.
That’s not to say the engine doesn’t make its presence felt, though. Prod the accelerator to the floor and the twin turbos do their work and provide instant acceleration – the first turbo is smaller and spools up much more quickly than a larger one, thus eliminating the turbo lag (the delay before the turbo spins to provide boost) which afflicts some cars.
Once the smaller turbo’s work is done, the larger version takes over to continue providing boost.
As a result, acceleration is smooth and feels much stronger than in the 2.0 HDi.
And even though the 407 SW in Sport guise has 18-inch wheels as standard, the ride doesn’t suffer. There are few cars in this sector which are more comfort- able than the Peugeot.
The ride errs towards sporty, but the damping is supple enough to ensure you’re not driving along with your teeth rattling.
Inside, the Sport benefits from the range upgrade which took place in the summer, meaning plenty of standard equipment (including Bluetooth telephone kit, electric part-leather seats and a full length panoramic glass roof which floods the interior with light).
It all makes the 407 a pleasant place to sit in. And at least from the driver’s seat you can’t see much of the ungainly snout on the Peugeot. It may make the car stand out, but the large front overhang and swoopy lines simply don’t gel with the more stylish and angular rear end.
P11D value: £22,127
CO2 emissions (g/km): 165
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 23% Graduated VED rate: £135
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 45.5
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £6,500/29%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £502
We don’t like
Three rivals to consider
WE’RE in the higher echelons of the upper-medium sector, with all four cars in top-spec trim and featuring high-power diesel engines. The Avensis boasts 180bhp, the Passat and Peugeot 170bhp. The Alfa offers 150bhp, but is included because of its stylish looks.
Emissions and tax rates
THE Alfa has the lowest emissions, but its higher front-end price sees it lose out to the Toyota, which will cost a 40% taxpayer £163 a month in company car tax – £4 less than the 159. The 407 will cost the same driver £169 a month, while the Passat will cost £175.
Avensis: 163g/km/22% 407: 165g/km/23%
A NARROW win for the Passat, which will cost £30 less to service, maintain and repair over 60,000 miles than the Peugeot. The Volkswagen will be cheaper on tyres and brakes, although the 407 will be less expensive in labour rates. The 159 costs £540 more than the VW.
Passat: 3.83 (ppm) £2,298 (60,000 miles total)
407: 3.88 £2,328
Avensis: 4.15 £2,490
159: 4.73 £2,838
WITH claimed average fuel economy of 46.3mpg, the 159 will be the most frugal over 60,000 miles, costing around £5,900 in diesel, or 9.81ppm. The Toyota and Peugeot are close behind on 45.6mpg and 45.5mpg respectively. The Passat returns 44.1mpg.
159: 9.81 (ppm) £5,886 (60,000 mile total)
Avensis: 9.95 £5,970
407: 9.98 £5,988
Passat: 10.29 £6,174
THE 407 comes last here thanks to the lowest residual value, with CAP estimating it will retain 29% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles. The other three will all retain 34%, meaning the Passat’s lower front-end price contributes to less cash lost over the same period.
Passat: 23.63 (ppm) £14,178 (60,000 miles total)
Avensis: 24.23 £14,538
159: 24.57 £14,742
407: 26.25 £15,750
THE Passat will cost a fleet £350 less to run than the second-placed Toyota over three years/60,000 miles. Both are well ahead of the 159 which creeps over the 39ppm mark, while the Peugeot will cost more than 40ppm – around £1,400 more than the Volkswagen.
Passat: 37.75 (ppm) £22,650 (60,000 miles total)
Avensis: 38.33 £22,998
159: 39.11 £23,466
407: 40.11 £24,066
THE 407 SW 2.2 HDi Sport is the undisputed star of the range, but it doesn’t win here because it is much more expensive on wholelife costs than its rivals. The Alfa Romeo is also on the costly side to run, although for some its striking looks will win the head vs heart argument. There’s little in the way of passion to stir drivers of the Avensis and Passat – both are well equipped and have great engines, but victory goes to the Passat as it is cheaper to run.