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Peugeot 407 SW SE HDi 140

Click to view picture galleryDavid Miles takes a first drive
  in the ‘new
2009 model year
  Peugeot 407 and finds that it
  a nice place to be; not perfect

  but comfortably acceptable

WHEN IS NEW NOT ACTUALLY NEW? Having seen the latest television and print advertising announcing the arrival of the 'new' 2009 Peugeot 407 range, I thought I'd missed a media launch event.

However, all is not what it appears to be. The 'new' 407 range is, in fact, a revised line-up with additional business user specification SR models with a choice of a 1.6-litre 110bhp HDi and a new 2.0-litre 140bhp HDi diesel engine. The 'new' reference also covers the introduction of the HDi 140bhp FAP, low road tax 150g/km Euro 5-compliant engine to the range along with subtle body styling changes.

The styling updates for 2009 include a new grille treatment and body-coloured rubbing strips. The rear bumper now incorporates a diffuser-style number-plate surround and the interior has also been enhanced: SE and GT models now feature the latest 'piano black' finish which is applied to the door handle and air vent surrounds, and also to the centre console.

One of the attractions of the 407 has always been its feline appearance — a look that initiated the latest 'house style' of Peugeot cars and which has also inspired the appearance of the ranges that followed.

The 407 might be the 'old boy' in a new school of upper-medium models but it still looks smart even if it is not as practical, space-wise, as most of its new competitors — the younger Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Toyota Avensis, Citroen C5, Honda Accord, Renault Laguna and VW Passat. And, of course, the 'premium' brand Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are also newer upper-medium sized models.

Inside the 407, the rear headroom is limited, the above-waistline styling limits load space and passenger shoulder room — a clear case of 'style over function'. The driving position is certainly not the best in today's class and the design and the ergonomics of the instrument display look fussy and outdated. However, ride comfort is excellent, handling is good enough — although fidgety on occasions over poorer roads — and the equipment level is high. So it is a nice place to work for business users and represents a stylish, well-equipped purchase for retail used car buyers.

I have just completed a period of typical UK driving using all types of roads and covering nearly 1,000 miles in a week. The model driven was the 407 SW (estate) SE HDi 140 priced at 21,950 — probably the best selling model in the range until the new SR versions start to make inroads into business fleets.

All 407 diesel models are now powered by HDi FAP diesel particulate filter engines. The 2.0-litre HDi 140 engine fitted to my test car develops 140bhp (an increase of 4bhp over the HDi 136 unit, which remains in the range, for now, coupled to an automatic transmission). The new 140bhp unit benefits from low fuel consumption — 49.5mpg — and CO2 emissions reduced to 150g/km. This engine also complies with anticipated future Euro-5 emission standards. My test car actually returned 43.5mpg overall, but it is the 150g/km CO2 which is most appealing to buyers as the road tax is only 120 — not at all bad for an estate car of this size.

Driving through a six-speed manual gearbox, the revised 140bhp engine is much quieter than the 136bhp unit; it pulls more readily and, as expected, it returns better driveability in all conditions. However, it does use more fuel.

For the record, SE specification includes 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear electric windows, folding electric door mirrors, panoramic glass sunroof, automatic wipers and headlights, opening tailgate window on the SW variant, remote central locking and alarm, electronic stability programme, front fog lights, trip computer, multi-media system, dual-zone climate control and leather steering wheel and gear knob.

Reasons to buy include the stylish looks, a comfortable and well-equipped interior, a strong diesel engine and low road tax for this class of car. If load space is critical then you need to know that the 407's load space (430-1,365 litres) is less than others in this class. Minor irritations: it is difficult to set an optimum driving position; fussy, not easy to read controls. Overall the 407 SW is a nice place to be; not perfect — but comfortably acceptable. — David Miles

Peugeot 407 SW SE HDi 140
| 21,950
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds Overall test MPG: 43.5mpg
Power: 140bhp | Torque: 240lb ft | CO2 150g/km | Insurance group 10E