Fleet News

Peugeot 807



I DO not have any children, pets and not many friends, but the merits of Peugeot's new 807 are clear to see should I ever need to carry a number of people.

The 807 will replace the 806 in October and has more style, space and substance than its predecessor. This is despite being based on the same platform and architecture. In fact the 807 is 273mm longer, due to extensions on the overhangs, is 16mm wider and 38mm taller.

The 807 gets the feline looking lights of the rest of the Peugeot range, which stop it looking too van-like and, while no MPV will ever win awards for beauty, it looks tidy and sharply designed.

It might surprise some, but the 806 has been a major fleet vehicle for Peugeot, with 80% of sales finding their way on to fleets. And during run-out of the 806, that number has risen above 90%.

Peugeot would like to see the retail stake improve with the 807, if only for the fact that there is more margin to be made. In 2003, Peugeot expects to sell 3,500 models, rising to 4,000 the next year.

Currently, the 806 is eighth in the sales charts, selling 1,700 last year, which is way off the Ford Galaxy, which topped the charts with 12,177 registrations last year - nearly three times as many as the second-placed Chrysler Voyager.

To start climbing the chart, the 807 needs to blend style with practicality, which it does. It is versatile and well thought out with some nice touches.

The mirror that lets front seat passengers survey the child-inspired carnage in the back without the need to twist and shout is one such detail. For parents trying to concentrate on driving or navigating, it is a good safety feature.

Another is the electric sliding doors, likely to be available on most models except the base spec. At the touch of a button, they whirr back and forth, and have sensors mounted in them that reverse the door should they detect little limbs or objects in their path.

The doors can be locked from the front to prevent mischievous fingers opening them, and the battery will sustain 120 opening and closings with the engine off before running out of juice.

Air conditioning, adjustable in the back, is also a useful feature to ensure comfort for the little darlings on long hot journeys. All models also have sun screens from the first row of passengers right back and around to the rear window.

As always with large MPVs, seven seats does not mean enough space for seven lots of luggage, although the cargo nets in the boot are very useful, and such is the versatility of the 807's seating that only in extreme cases would space run out.

The passenger seats are fixed to the floor using Peugeot's Quickfix seat locking system. The chairs slide backwards and forwards easily, and removing and returning them is very simple. Just squeeze the handle at the back and lift, and away they come. At 19kgs they are also not too heavy and can be put in facing front and back.

The front seats will also swivel through 180 degrees easily, although the seat belt fixings dictate that all seats have to be facing forward when travelling.

I did not count, but Peugeot claims there are up to 58 storage areas on the car, although most handy is a removable bin, so clearing the 807 out after a long journey might not be quite the hassle it could have been.

Peugeot believes it has created a world first by fitting curtain airbags for all three rows of seats, hidden in the headlining above window level. These complement the front and side airbags for the driver and passenger.

The 807 is aiming for a four star Euro NCAP crash test rating. To gain the further star for a full house would have meant too much weight and a redesign to the detriment of the looks, Peugeot claims. Apparently, this would have harmed its sales chances more than it would have helped them.

For personal security all doors lock above 6mph, and on the safety side, all 807s come with anti lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic brake assist and some higher models will come with an electronic stability programme.

The 807 will be offered with four engines: a 2.0-litre, 138bhp petrol, which will be the only version with a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic, a 2.2-litre 160bhp petrol with variable vale timing, and 2.0-litre 110bhp and 2.2-litre, 136bhp common rail HDi.

At the launch, only the two 2.2-litre units were available, and the diesel, which will account for 60-65% of sales, was rightly the pick of the bunch.

It is fairly noisy at low speed, as is the petrol, but soon quietens into a distant hum. It also has the advantage of better mpg, at 38.2 on the combined cycle, compared to the petrol's 29.1mpg.

And with carbon dioxide emission figures of 199g/km against the 218g/km of the 2.2 petrol, it is clearly the winner in every department, as long as it is not priced out of the market.

Peugeot has not decided specs or prices for the car yet, but rolled out the old adage that it will be 'competitive' against the Ford Galaxy, by far the biggest seller in the sector.

So take that to mean from about £18,000 on-the-road for the base LX 2.0 petrol to £25,000 for the top-of-the-range, leather-bound 2.2-litre HDi Pullman, which is pretty good value for a such a well thought out family workhorse.

Behind the wheel

Despite running on essentially the same platform as the 806, the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have been revised to make it handle more sharply, contain body roll and ride better.

For the driver, the fully-adjustable steering column ensures it feels like you are steering a car rather than a bus, and the seats move in all the right directions. Steering weight is about right: not too light to be vague but not heavy enough to make car park manoeuvring a mini gym workout.

The gearlever, mounted up on the dashboard, is handily close and is light, although it has a tendency to wobble in each gear and return vaguely to centre, like on its smaller brother the 307.

At low speeds, the 807 feels slightly unsettled, but the trade off seems to be a good, flat ride at higher speeds. You certainly know if you hit a bump or lump in the road, but most of the shock and noise is taken through the wheels and the cabin floor stays unmoved.

Through long, fast corners it stays level and composed as long as you keep it smooth which suggests that the priority is to keep young passengers free from travel sickness.

I did not get used to the central dials, which sit under a long arch in the middle of the dashboard, but they serve as an alternative to the interminable acres of plastic on some MPVs and visibility is excellent through what Peugeot claim is a class- leading windscreen covering 1.95 square metres.

The front passenger does not get a huge amount of legroom as you might expect, but the 807 is a pleasant, light environment and details such as the passenger mirror and various cubby holes show that the Peugeot designers have enjoyed themselves in its conception.

If I get some friends or family one day, I could definitely see the 807 as a handy and stylish way of carting them around.

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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