Peugeot 407 SW HDi SE

It's amazing the amount of abuse that some cars can put up with. They are subjected to virtually no washing, servicing or TLC, and still they keep chugging away. Take my husband's Peugeot 406 2.0 HDi, for instance. 'Neglected' isn't the word!

  • Practical and versatile interior, comfortable driving position, distinctive styling
  • Central armrest still rattles, poor visibility, black upholstery shows dust, lack of parking sensors

It's amazing the amount of abuse that some cars can put up with. They are subjected to virtually no washing, servicing or TLC, and still they keep chugging away. Take my husband's Peugeot 406 2.0 HDi, for instance. 'Neglected' isn't the word! The oil-burner is only a V-reg, but its 110,000 miles - most of them covered in the past two years - belie its tender age. Doug uses it on his epic 170-mile daily commute from north London to Gaydon, Warwickshire, where he works in Aston Martin's prototype department. Sadly, DB9 company cars are a little thin on the ground... He doesn't care much for his Peugeot. The body is filthy, one of the bumpers is hanging off and various pieces of trim are bent or missing. The cabin is, frankly, revolting. I refuse to even sit in the car: with its door-to-door crisp packets, cigarette ash and banana skins, it should be given a Government health warning. But here's the interesting thing: the 406 just keeps on going. With little more than an MoT and occasional oil level check, it takes everything that's thrown at it. Peugeot diesels are renowned for their longevity, and Doug's car proves their reputation is thoroughly deserved. All of which bodes well for Auto Express' long-term 407 SW. With around 11,000 miles on the clock, the 1.6-litre HDi is just getting into its stride - and if Doug's experience with its predecessor is anything to go by, the car will be giving strong, reliable service for many years to come. While the SW is far more pampered than its stablemate, it certainly works for its keep. We're renovating our home, and the Peugeot has been pressed into service on numerous visits to DIY stores. It has carried any load we've asked it to - although having to remove the headrests to fold the rear seats is irritating. Nevertheless, when witnessing frayed tempers at IKEA as customers attempt to load flat-pack furniture into highly unsuitable vehicles, I've often given thanks for the roomy 407. Despite our disparate sizes - I'm 5ft 7in and Doug is 6ft 5in - we each feel comfortable when driving. The footrest is too close to the clutch pedal for Doug's size 12s, but the height-adjustable seatbelts are a bonus. There are plenty of cubbies, too, including coin trays either side of the front seats. However, the black trim shows up every hair and speck of dust. Manoeuvring the huge Peugeot would be far easier if it had the optional parking sensors. The long nose is hard to judge in a tight space, while those rear pillars create unnerving blindspots - the small wing mirrors don't help, either. Against the odds, though, the 407 has escaped any parking dings. On the road, the ride is relaxing. This, along with the vague steering, is typical of a large French car - although the long-throw gearshift isn't to every-one's taste. Meanwhile, the 110bhp diesel engine could be punchier; its 2.0-litre brother is a better option as it's less stressed, and so would probably prove more economical. Refinement is fairly good, despite some booming at motorway speeds. I do have a few concerns, however - the main one being that the fan has started to come on as the engine is switched off, even when I haven't been sitting in traffic. Sometimes it will keep going for five minutes. I'll get it checked when I take the Peugeot to my local dealer for a new offside front foglight lens - the original, tucked beneath the bumper, has been smashed by a stone thrown up from the road. It's unlikely I'll be driving KU54 ACF when it reaches 110,000 miles, but there's no doubt the car will still be going strong - and you can guarantee I would treat it with a little bit more care than Doug does his unfortunate 406...Sarah BradleySecond Opinion As if shifting Sarah's furniture hasn't tested the 407 enough, the SW has also proved its worth transporting my mountain bike. I use my two-wheeler as a yardstick for boot space; if you can get it in without removing the front wheel and restricting visibility to the rear, you're doing well. The Peugeot managed the job easily. Its sluggish performance and hopeless gearbox are a turn-off, but our 407 SW has certainly proved its worth on the Auto Express long-term fleet. Chris Thorp, act. dep. motoring ed

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