Peugeot 407 SW

As with any group of car buyers, the staff at Auto Express are a diverse bunch - and our long-term test fleet has to satisfy a real spread of requirements. As a father of two youngsters, my needs are practicality rather than sportiness.

  • Quirky styling, excellent load-carrying abilities, huge glass sunroof
  • Centre console/armrest rattles, distracting reflection in tailgate window

As with any group of car buyers, the staff at Auto Express are a diverse bunch - and our long-term test fleet has to satisfy a real spread of requirements. As a father of two youngsters, my needs are practicality rather than sportiness. We haven't had our Peugeot 407 SW long, but it's already in demand thanks to its funky looks and workaday nature. Certainly, it's ideal for my family, with lots of space for the children and all their gear. The French firm isn't known for its adventurous styling, but with its controversial gaping grille, curvy tailgate and quirky side windows, this model sees a break from tradition. Our road testers have criticised the rounded rear for restricting boot space (Issue 823), but I've experienced no real problems. A removable cover, chrome scuff guard and pull-down tailgate strap add to the convenience. You'd expect the 110bhp 1.6-litre HDi engine to struggle with the car loaded, but careful use of the five-speed manual box means the diesel gives steady progress. And while you notice the extra weight on board, the chassis and suspension cope well. Inside, the 407 SW is reasonably comfortable - although tall drivers suffer from a lack of legroom over long distances. It's also well specified, with distinctive cloth upholstery, plus a leather steering wheel and gearknob. White-faced dials add class, as does the carbon fibre-look trim. I also like the electrochromatic rear view mirror, which darkens to prevent dazzling, the auto front wipers and the 'see-you-home' headlamps. And as a dad, it's good to see standard driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags included. In the rear, baby seats can be fitted easily, thanks to the decent squab length. But by far my favourite feature is the panoramic glass roof. Stretching back over the rear cabin, it gives an airy feel - ideal for those dull, dark winter days. There's an electric multi-stage blind, too, for when the sun is out. But all is not perfect. One niggle is the central cubby/adjustable armrest. It's a neat idea, but the lid rattles, which is a really annoying; even adding a blob of Blu-Tack has failed to rectify the problem. Further irritations concern the tailgate window. Cleverly, it opens independently of the hatch, but the high-level brake light reflects in the glass, and the heating elements can be distracting. One of the number plate bulbs has blown, too. Still, our first few months with the 407 SW have been rewarding - and we see no reason why that should change.

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