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First Drive - Peugeot 407SW – on sale now

Peugeot

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Review

The new 407 has got off to a cracking start, accord-ing to Peugeot. It’s taken 7,500 orders – and of those, 1,200 are for the SW (Peugeot speak for estate), which only went on sale this month.

Consumer interest has been generated via TV and billboard promotions and, for the SW in particular, through the British Motor Show in May. Peugeot needs this level of demand after struggling through much of 2004 without its volume selling 106. Year-to-July sales were down 8.66%, but the 407 is providing the pick-me-up, with dealers expecting to sell 16,000 this year.

Much of the demand is from user-choosers, with the 407 being added to more leasing lists.

Peugeot is predicting the SW will account for 40% of the 27,000 annual sales target for 2005, and is maintaining its incentives plans for dealers to hit 30% retail. For those wondering why annual sales will be so much lower than the outgoing 406, which peaked at 48,000 in 1998, it’s because of growing competition in the D-sector. Back in 1998, the 406 had 14 rivals; in contrast the 407 has 26, and with sector fragmentation, many of these are non-traditional cars like mini-MPVs.

Consumers will choose from the same engines as the saloon: 1.8, 2.0, 2.2 and 3.0 V6 petrol; 1.6 and 2.0 Euro 4 compliant diesel. Most popular model will be the 2.0-litre 136bhp diesel, although we expect the chipper 1.6-litre 110bhp to push hard – as long as dealers can counter the poor perception of smaller diesels. This PSA-Ford joint venture unit is a real gem, and should suit most buyers.

The SW shares the saloon’s high quality interior – comparable to the Toyota Avensis for sheer liveability.

Many commentators question the concept of ‘lifestyle estates’, pointing out that handling is sacrificed for only a little more space – if you need a load-lugger buy a Volvo or Vectra estate. But the 407 SW, with its identical wheelbase and set-up to the saloon (the only difference is an additional eight inches at the rear), shows that handling can be retained. And with the average buyer demanding comfort and stand-out looks, Peugeot reckons it’s got the whole package.

Strength: Ride,handling, comfort, interior
Weaknesses: Not a huge boot, 1.6 diesel gearshift sloppy
Opportunity: Retail attraction for 407
Threat: 28 competitors, including new sector rivals
The USP: Looks with versatility
Prices: £15,850 - £23,350
Engines: Petrol: 1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 3.0 V6; diesel: 1.6, 2.0
Transmission: 6sp man/auto; 5sp man; 4sp auto
Performance: 0-62mph 8.7s-12.1s; top speed 117-140mph
Efficiency: 28.5-50.4mpg comb; 148-233g/km CO2 emissions
Services: 20,000 miles/one year
CAP RV (3yr/30k): 33-36%
Rivals: Toyota Avensis, Vectra estate, Mondeo estate

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