25 February 2014

DRIVEN: Peugeot 307

Got behind the wheel of the Peugeot 307. There's plenty to like about it...

WHEN manufacturers make a car as a replacement for the outgoing model. The chances are that it should be an improvement over the one that went before. Some will regard the Peugeot 307 as a car that wasn't an improvement over the old 306. Reflecting a time when Peugeot lost form. 

Where looks are concerned, the 307 is not as pretty as the old 306. But in fairness, it's quite a smart looking hatchback - even if it has a whiff of an MPV about it. Compared to its rivals, I would say the 307 has aged better like the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf of a similar age.

The improvements Peugeot made on the 307 from the 306 were few and far between. For starters, it's a bigger car than the 306, and the advantages are more interior and boot space thanks to the higher roofline.

Build quality was also an improvement with softer, more tactile plastics on the dashboard. I have lived with a few 306s in my lifetime, and the 307 feels more solid and put together than its forebear. Improved build quality also came with better refinement.

Peugeot made a wide range of 307s. Bodystyles ranging from a three-and-five door hatchback. A cavernous estate, that was also available as with seven seats if you'd rather walk than be seen in an MPV. If you want the wind in your hair, there's the Coupe-Cabriolet model (307CC). Engines powering the 307 range were 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre petrol engines. The diesels in the range were available with 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre HDi units.

The 307 I drove had the lethargic 1.4 litre petrol engine. It's willing, but it doesn't take long to realise that it will have to work hard to shift a heavy and relatively big car. Especially when you get it up to speed, which requires dropping down a gear and revving it hard to get going. Bigger engines would be better suited to the 307 - especially the diesels.

Peugeot have built up a reputation of fun-to-drive cars. Is the 307 a fun-to-drive car? It's a rather nice car to drive, but in a more relaxed manner with its roly-poly handling. The steering may not be sharp, but it's light and has some feel and feedback. It's not at its best though if you try and push it to the limit - it's too soft and wallowy. Keen drivers would have more fun in a Ford Focus.

Despite the 307's dynamic short comings, the benefits from that comes with a soft and supple ride. You won't get any complaints from your passengers on board because the 307 rides well. It's clear that Peugeot made their Golf and Focus rival more biased towards comfort than handling prowess.

On board, the 307 is well equipped. In LX guise, it comes with front electric windows, CD player, remote key fob, central locking, air conditioning, sunroof. Peugeot installed armrests on the front seats enhancing lumbar support for the driver and front seat passenger. It even has all-round disc brakes.

So what's the overall verdict on the Peugeot 307? A competent, practical, well equipped and comfortable Eurobox is the best way of describing it. Still, the 307 does make a nice alternative to the usual Golf or Focus.


2001 307 1.4 LX (AC)

Engine: 1.4 litre OHC 8-Valve 4 Cylinder
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual 
Power: 75bhp
Torque: 106nm
0-62mph: 14.3secs
Top speed: 104mph
Economy: 42mpg (combined)
CO2: 159g/km

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