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Peugeot 4007 GT HDi

Click to view picture galleryYou dont need to have a family
  to justify buying a Peugeot 4007,
  but if you do then that
s even
  better. And if you need to go off
  the beaten track — well, what do
  you know?!
the 4007 will take
  you all there, too
...

OKAY, SO OFFICIALLY THERE'S A RECESSION. But it's not all doom and gloom, and we're a long way from the apocalypse or a 'Beyond the Thunderdome' Mad Max scenario. Even so, it's still not a bad idea to get yourself a car that can cope with the demands of transporting the family unit, rotten roads, dwindling fuel reserves and high fuel prices.

Something with a bit of a 'king of the jungle' edge to it. While it may not be considered the king of the jungle, Peugeot's 4007 does have a lion on its bonnet! It's also a Sports Utility Vehicle (for tackling poor roads and going off them when necessary); has versatile five+two seating for your family unit (we say that a family that drives together, stays together!); and a class-leading turbodiesel engine to make every gallon of precious fuel go as far as possible. Unlike Max's customised outback-friendly car, the 4007 doesn't have a gun rack or a built-in self-destruct charge to deter car-jackers — but then you don't need them yet.

While it's always nice to have a choice, in today's world we are approaching choice overload and often spend more time choosing instead of actually doing. So it's good that Peugeot has made choosing a 4007 nice and straightforward. There's only one engine available, but it's a good one — a 156bhp 2.2 HDi unit. And deciding on the trim and specification won't take long either, because there are just two levels to choose from: SE and GT at 22,790 and 25,695 respectively. Like most people, we appreciate life's little luxuries — such as leather upholstery, cruise and climate control, CD changer, rear parking sensors, Xenon headlights and smart alloy wheels — so we're testing the range-topping GT.

Even from a distance the standout feature of the 4007 is the large rampant lion on the contoured bonnet, unmistakably branding the 4007 a Peugeot. Equally eye-catching is the deep, wide, open grille with slim vertical chrome bars that add to the impression of a big grinning mouth. Large clear 'feline' headlamp units slant backwards, cutting into the sculptured wings. Bold wheel arches filled by 18-inch alloy wheels and a noticeable ground clearance adds to 'goes anywhere' look. Rear styling, accentuated by privacy glass and sharply angled cut-offs to the rearmost side windows, is finished off nicely by translucent ruby tail lights with a curved profile.

The spacious cabin is inviting. For a start the cleanly-styled soft-touch fascia is refreshingly uncluttered, enhanced by aluminium-look detailing that's used to highlight air vent surrounds and other key controls. Nice to see the hazard warning switch sited in the fascia, where both the front passenger and the driver can reach it in an emergency. The leather seats are well-shaped with good side support and give the interior a tangible upmarket atmosphere. Both front and middle rows are extremely roomy. Furthermore, it's spacious and everything feels solidly put together.

Standard equipment is in keeping with the GT's 25,000 price tag and includes: leather upholstery, 2-stage heated front seats, power-operated and heated driver's seat, CD autochanger (neatly integrated behind the fold-out display screen), Xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, dark tinted rear windows, smart five-spoke design 18-inch alloy wheels, electronic 'On-Demand' 4WD system, cruise control, roof bars, leather-clad steering wheel with remote audio and cruise controls, automatic air conditioning with climate control, radio/CD with MP3 playback, trip computer, electrically operated folding and heated door mirrors that — a nice touch — fold automatically on locking the car, one-touch electric front and rear windows, front airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags for rows 1 and 2 and an Electronic Stability Programme.

Extra-cost equipment fitted includes a 1,620 colour SatNav with voice command control and rear view camera. This also shows guidelines on the screen when reversing and is especially useful as rear visibility is restricted.

You sit high; and the view out from the front seat is commanding, with a good field of vision, making the 4007 easy to place on the road. With electrical 6-way adjustment for the driver's seat and generous reach and height adjustment of the steering wheel, setting your ideal driving position is easy. Padded armrests on the doors provide additional comfort, as do the height-adjustable seat belts. The gear lever — there's no auto option, so all 4007's come with a six-speed manual 'box as standard — is well-positioned and there's a traditional pull-up handbrake. Just behind the gearlever is rotary knob that controls the all-wheel drive system.

Billed as a '5+2', the 4007's seating is undeniably versatile. The row-two split rear seat slides back and forth over a distance of 80mm — handy when carrying taller passengers. It's also particularly user-friendly: the second row of seats, split 60:40 and set higher than the front pair, tumble and fold easily — either by manually pulling on a cord or, alternatively, pressing the switches located in each side of the big boot. Do so, and the seat folds itself in a concertina fashion. There's also a centre rear armrest for when just one or two are occupying in the second row.

The third row 'jump' seats with head restraints and three-point seat belts — folded completely into the boot floor when not in use — can be liberated to provide plenty of seating space for small children. Talking of children, the 4007 cabin also scores strongly for practicality, with two gloveboxes (one cooled), drop-down sunglasses holder, bins in the dash top and stowage cubbies everywhere. More than enough to make it a viable alternative to a van-like MPV.

Take note, however, that this is a simple bench that, while fine for youngsters, is not really suitable for adults — although they can squeeze in for short trips if they don't mind having their knees under their chin. Access to row-three is straightforward once the middle row seat is folded and flipped forward.

Obviously boot space has to be given up while they're in position (there's still 184 litres), but they do come in useful and strengthen the 4007's 'family' vehicle credentials.

When only five seats are in place, boot space is generous: 510 litres. Tumble the second row of seats forward and this can be expanded to 1,686 litres. Loading the 4007 through the tailgate is made much easier by the lower section of the Range Rover-style split tailgate which folds down to provide a low loading platform that will support 200kg and a loading sill height of only 600mm from the ground.

With as many as seven aboard, bags of torque is called for. Fortunately the 4007's new 2.2-litre HDi diesel delivers plenty: 285lb ft. Better yet, it's all on call from a low 2,000rpm. Combined with 156bhp it provides decent pace, getting the 1,825kg 4007 off the line effortlessly and cracking the 0-62mph sprint in 9.9 seconds. Top speed is 124mph.

The turbocharged high-torque four-cylinder unit has a wide spread of power: from 1,250rpm there's 185lb ft of torque increasing, at 1,500rpm, to almost 80% of maximum torque — 222lb ft. By the time you get to 3,000rpm, you still have nearly 90% of maximum torque at your disposal. In practical terms out on the road this means the torque is really working for you, delivering good low-end acceleration and mid-range power so overtaking can be carried out with confidence. And while you can hear it working when pushing hard, it's basically a civilised, free-revving and vigorous powerplant. Ensuring that it's easy to make full use of all this torque is a precise and clean-changing gear shift.

Despite it's size — a length of 4.64 metres and a height of 1.71 metres — the 4007 is surprising economical. The official fuel consumption figures are impressive for a vehicle of this size: 38.6mpg combined; 29.4 urban; and 47mpg extra-urban. Our combined test consumption came out at an impressive of 36.5mpg. CO2 emissions of 194g/km place the GT in Band F (the SE model is rated at 191g/km) for an annual road tax bill of 205.

While it's true that most of the time, for most of the people, two-wheel drive will be perfectly okay, you never know when the weather is going to change suddenly. We wouldn't think of not having seat belts even though we don't expect to be involved in an accident; but we know that road and weather conditions can change from good to bad in the blink of an eye. So a system that switches between two- and four-wheel drive as quickly as the weather has to be A Good Thing. Once again, Peugeot has kept it simple.

The 4007's on-demand 4x4 system offers both front- and four-wheel drive, the three modes being selected via the big rotary knob just behind the gear lever: the choices are 2WD, Automatic 4WD and Locked 4WD. 2WD is fine for ordinary everyday driving in dry conditions, and is obviously the most fuel-efficient mode. In 2WD, most of the drive — around 85% of it — is sent to the front wheels. Drive to the rear wheels is increased under hard acceleration or if the road surface is slippery. Automatic 4WD is best for everyday driving because it delivers the optimum grip and road holding and is designed to cope with wet, icy and loosely surfaced roads. Auto 4WD also benefits the driving experience — the car feels sharper and more decisive, particularly in bends.

Locked 4WD is really for off-roading and provides maximum traction, distributing more torque to the rear wheels than normal 4WD — at low speeds in particular, as much as 50% will go to the rear wheels. While most 4007s will probably keep to the tarmac, it is, despite its low (when compared to full-blown 4x4s) ground clearance, competent off-road, where the strong low-down torque comes in handy, especially for negotiating tougher terrain.

Although we didn't take our 4007 seriously off-road, it was perfectly happy and felt more than capable of going quite a way off the beaten track — even on the standard 225/55 18-inch tyres that, incidentally, provide good on-road refinement and decent off-road grip. Good news for customers using their 4007 for outdoor leisure activities.

On the move the 4007 serves up an agreeably pleasant drive: the ride, town and country, is saloon-like; fluent and compliant enough to smooth out the bulk of road surface disturbances. Surprisingly good, too, when you consider it's running on large 18-inch alloy wheels. Body roll is also well controlled, the steering well weighted, accurate and responsive plus visibility is excellent, all of which contributes to the car-like feel from behind the wheel. And, of course, there are the added safety benefits from the switchable four-wheel drive. Press-on driving it will do, but it favours comfort over agility — the 4007 is, as they say, fit for purpose. Refinement is good and our test car wasn't troubled by mechanical noise intrusion or wind noise. We found it quiet and refined when cruising.

Safety kit hasn't been overlooked either — there are six airbags (two adaptive front, two side and two curtain covering rows one and two) and a standard-fit Electronic Stability Programme. In addition, as well as ABS, there's also a traction control system, Isofix mounting points an all three middle-row seats and key deactivation of the front passenger airbag to allow for using a rear-facing child seat. If a seat belt is unfastened then a buzzer sounds and a warning light comes on in the instrument panel — reassuring if you're carrying several children.

To recap: the smart looking 4007 has a broad range of talents from comfort to practicality and it will seat seven and even go off-road. If you're a Peugeot customer wanting to stay with the brand but looking for something that's one-up on a 407 SW estate, then the 4007 could be right up your street. And even if you've never had a lion on your bonnet, it's a good car of its kind. It even has green credentials — there's a diesel particulate filter system and the engine will run on a 30% concentration of Biodiesel fuel. All in all, that's a host of reasons to book yourself a test drive at a nearby Peugeot dealer. And remember, Beware the Poppy Clips! — MotorBar

Peueot 4007 GT HDi
| 25,695
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 36.5mpg
Power: 156bhp | Torque: 285lb ft | CO2 194g/km | Insurance group 13E