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Click to view road test review picture gallery“Peugeot’s 4007
  delivers a lion-hearted
  performance. And for
  a growing number of
  motorists, it could
  make the perfect
  transport for 2008...”

SEVERE WINTER WEATHER ROLLED IN LAST WEEK with a vengeance. Gales, torrential rain, floods, ice, sleet, thunderstorms — just the sort of conditions where SUV 4x4 vehicles such as the Lion-crested Peugeot 4007 come into their own.

But it is not just in the winter that SUVs are 'fit-for-purpose'. Due to the versatile accommodation these vehicles offer — usually five (but more commonly seven) seats, the elevated seating/driving position, high levels of specification and imposing good looks — they are proving more and more popular the whole year round providing, as they do, work, leisure and family transport for a growing number of motorists.

The continued growth in UK sales, despite the whinging from the anti 4x4 lobby, has been driven in part this year by new models joining
the market. Manufacturers have countered claims of 4x4s being gas-guzzlers by introducing lighter weight, more fuel-efficient vehicles — most about the same size in length as a medium-sized estate car.
Of course, there still are hugely expensive monster 4x4s being intro-duced, sold and used in totally inappropriate surroundings such as
city centres and on school-runs.

However, these big heavyweights will be hit hard next year by the national 400 road tax, the proposed higher London Congestion Charge and the ever-increasing price of fuel. So the middle ground of the family SUV 4x4 market is where most sensible people are concentrating their choice of purchase — in other words, Honda CR-V, Land Rover Freelander, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan X-Trail and Kia Sportage ter-ritory.

Three additional names can now be added to that mid-sized SUV line-up: the Peugeot 4007, Citroen C-Crosser and Mitsubishi Outlander. Essentially, all these models are the same. All are built in Japan by Mitsubishi Motors and all use the renowned Mitsubishi two/four-wheel on-demand 4x4 system. The major difference between these three branded SUV ranges are the front-end styling, the slightly different rear-end treatment and a few odd items of specification. Peugeot and Citroen models use their own in-house PSA 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine; Mitsubishi its own 2.4-litre petrol unit (with an automatic transmission as standard), a VW-sourced 2.0-litre diesel engine and now they too get the use of the PSA powerplant.

The Peugeot and Citroen versions entered the UK market in August
this year, each with a 2,000 unit sales target in the first full year of sales. Mitsubishi's Outlander went on sale a little earlier but only now gets use of the 'choice' PSA 2.2-litre diesel engine.

Whilst the Mitsubishi brand is famous for 4x4 models and they have
a huge number of core 4x4 customers, for Peugeot and Citroen this is their first SUV — so for their dealers, and customers, this is a new sales territory.

The Mitsubishi Outlander range has more models and levels of specific-ation to choose from, with prices ranging from 19,449 to 26,999. The published prices for the 2.2-litre Peugeot 4007 and Citroen C-Crosser are identical — 22,790 to 25,490 — so customers must choose the brand they like the best, the dealer they prefer or the best purchase price they can obtain.

Winter or summer, you never know what lies around the corner when you are motoring. And the hurricane-force winds and appalling driving conditions of last week brought home to me just how important it is to have the right vehicle to meet the unpredictable demands of modern-day motoring. If you just travel a few miles each day and park in a town or at an office, then high motoring costs and congested roads suggest a small compact car is the right choice.

As a motoring writer I'm lucky — I can choose a specific vehicle for a specific journey, so when a business trip to France with passengers and equipment came along (and not forgetting the opportunity to do some pre-Christmas shopping!), a mid-sized 4x4 SUV made sound and reasonable sense. Step forward the Peugeot 4007.

The 4007 comes in a two-model line-up: SE and GT. Both use the PSA 2.2-litre turbodiesel, four-cylinder engine with 156bhp and 285lb ft
of torque from 2,000rpm; both models use a six-speed manual gearbox with the electronic on-demand two/four and 4WD lock transmission. The SE is priced at 22,790 and the main-selling GT at 25,490.

At 4,635mm long and 1,805mm wide, the 4007 is the same size as a family estate car and even the extra ground clearance and extra headroom (which gives the vehicle a height of 1,715mm) causes no problems with underground parking or getting a space on a ferry. The five-plus-two seating configuration will be an added bonus for some families, although the rearmost two seats (which drop down into the floor) are really only suitable for occasional use. A bonus when they are stowed away is the pretty large load area. The middle row of seats can be folded down as well to create a huge cargo space. With the middle row in place, passenger space for two adults is excellent and three passengers can be accommodated at a push. The legroom is pretty good as well. However, on more than one occasion my passen-gers passed comment about the lack of comfort due to the overly firm seatback.

The front seats are certainly comfortable, and the GT version I was driving had heated front seats with the added convenience of power operation for the driver's seat. The GT specification also includes leather upholstery. The dashboard is well laid out and houses the con-trols and switches in easy-to-find logical locations. There is storage space within the fascia, and also in the console sited from the fascia base to between the front seats. It is, all-in-all, very user-friendly.

GT items of added specification over the SE version include an uprated CD changer, excellent Xenon headlights, rear parking sensors (a must as the door-mounted rear view mirrors are too small), and dark tinted glass which — although I know some people like — I can live without. The test car — as most press cars do — had a very good colour DVD satellite navigation system which incorporates the uprated sound sys-tem and a rear-view camera, which adds 1,600 to the overall price. Happily, the system was brilliant and made driving in dreadful conditions very easy and, more importantly I think, safer.

As you would expect, the flagship GT version has 18-inch alloy road wheels whereas the lesser SE makes do with 16-inch versions. All models have as standard an excellent array of important specification items that include cruise control, alarm with remote control locking and deadlocks, automatic air conditioning with climate control, electrically-operated front and rear side windows, electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, trip computer, front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock braking. Outside, all models have roof bars, fog lights and a fold-flat lower tailgate section for added ease of loading.

It is the overall size — not too big, not too small, the high equipment levels relative to the vehicle's price and the performance and respon-siveness of the tried-and-tested, smooth and quiet 2.2-litre diesel engine that makes the 4007 (and the C-Crosser) a really strong con-tender for sales. Add in Mitsubishi's reputation for build quality together with their four-wheel drive technology and you end up with the 'real-deal' in sensible and affordable SUVs. Some customer might prefer the Land Rover brand name along with its 4x4 abilities and credentials, but the Freelander is smaller inside and, judged on like-for-like specific-ation, costs much more.

Most of the time SUVs are used for on-road work, in good or bad weather — and this is where the 4007 scores. It performs particularly well, having a top speed of 124mph, 0-62mph acceleration in 9.9 seconds and returns 38.7mpg on average. Confirming that, during my week-long test my 4007 returned between 30.6 and 36.9mpg fully-loaded.

The road holding is good, there's not very much body roll, the grip is excellent, the steering precise, brakes strong and the engine respon-sive. Add in the ability to go from two- to four-wheel drive at the turn of a dial and some considerable off-road ability with the 4WD lock facility, and the 4007 makes a strong and sensible case for itself. In addition, it can tow up to 2,000kg and it also generally looks very smart as well.

As for any negative issues, there are very few: no automatic trans-mission option yet, road noise intrusion is one, small door mirrors are another and the forward-sloping rear load floor where small items move forward out of reach. The front-end's aggressive grille styling you either like or you don't — but it does make people take notice of this 'classy' vehicle.

For your money you get a sensible size, good-looking SUV fitted out
to a high specification at a competitive price. The 4007 is also roomy
with good practical load space and delivers sure-footed handling.
The engine is strong and economical, and the 4x4 system is easy to use. On a personal note, the talented Peugeot 4007 made my trip
to France, with the unbelievably bad winter driving conditions, much easier and safer than it could have been. That by itself is a good enough reason to park one on your drive. — David Miles

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Peugeot 4007 GT HDi 156 | 25,490
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 33.7mpg | Power: 156bhp | Torque: 285lb ft

CO2 194g/km | Insurance group 13E
Visit Peugeot's website Click to go there now

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