Peugeot 407 SE 2.0 HDi
It’s nip and tuck for the lion’s family car, we find out if the changes have made it a contender.
The changes Peugeot has carried out do nothing to elevate the 407 above more modern and talented opponents in this sector. If you appreciated its unique looks before, you will probably continue to do so. If not, there’s nothing much here to change your mind. Still, it remains a very comfortable cruiser, the interior is pleasant and the quality is good. It’s not a class leader, but pick one of the higher-powered engines and the 407 will prove a very worthy motorway companion.
Few sectors of the market have moved on as much as the large family car class. Last year, the Ford Mondeo raised the bar for dynamics and quality, while Citroen’s new C5 has recently done the same for style.
So, with the Peugeot 407 having been launched back in 2004, the French firm really needed to freshen up the ageing saloon. It’s attempted to do just that – although you may struggle to tell the difference.
The front end simply features a new grille, while at the back there’s a black ‘diffuser-style’ section and the parking sensors are more neatly integrated.
Cabin changes are subtle, too: the centre console now has a piano black finish and there are scatterings of chrome. Elsewhere, it remains largely faithful to the original, meaning a busy cluster of buttons and mainly high-quality finish.
One stand-out feature, though, is the high-definition sat-nav screen on the luxury-spec SE we drove. This is so bright and clear, it’s actually distracting. New SR trim, which sits above the entry-level model and adds alloys, basic sat-nav and Bluetooth, should satisfy the fleet market.
And that’s where the Peugeot seems to be aimed. The ride and handling balance is tipped in favour of smooth progress, rather than exciting driving. There’s plenty of grip, but the steering is a little lifeless and the diesels we drove felt slightly nose-heavy. It’s a car much more at ease when cruising than on a twisty back road.
We tried the 140bhp 2.0-litre HDi diesel model, which uses a revised version of the original 136bhp unit. It’s been tweaked to meet the current Euro V emissions rules, although fuel economy suffers slightly. The diesel is well suited to the car’s character, with plenty of torque but a slightly lazy feel.
It has enough muscle for safe overtaking, yet emits only 150g/km of CO2 and returns 40mpg-plus. These figures are competitive – we just wish the firm had gone further to ensure the rest of the package was.
Rival: Ford Mondeo The Mondeo leads the way in virtually every area, exposing the 407’s advancing age with sharper looks, better handling and a higher-quality finish. The Ford is our class favourite.