BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Soft. That's the word that springs to mind when piloting the Peugeot 607. Unlike many cars - and indeed many Peugeot cars - that major on providing a sporting drive, the 607 is in many ways of the old school of Gallic luxobarges, quick, well equipped and hugely cosseting. If you're the sort of driver who takes the twisty route home you may find the 607 a little too comfort oriented but as a destroyer of motorways and A-roads little touches it for the price. With used examples now starting to appear the 607 represents a lot of high quality metal for your money.
Models Covered: (2.0, 2.2, 3.0-litre petrol, 2.0, 2.2HDi diesel [base, S, SE, V6])
Peugeot has had some track record of big cars that have been cruelly ignored in Britain. Who can forget the 604, a big car from the cereal box school of carchitecture, or the 605, a model that looked like a 405 on growth hormone. Neither floated the boat of UK buyers who had become used to Granadas, Senators and Rover 800 models. The 607 has fared little differently, Peugeot openly admitting upon launch that sales aspirations were realistic. "If the car can at least wipe its own nose, we'll be happy" was the opinion of one Peugeot suit at the Jordanian press junket. Three models were available at launch in June 2000, a 160bhp 2.2-litre petrol version, the mighty 210bhp 3.0-litre V6 and a quite excellent 136bhp 2.2-litre HDi diesel variant. Jeremy Clarkson reckoned the 607 to be the worst new car you could buy at the time, but this is a man, remember, who considers Ray Ban Wayfarers and Prog Rock to be the acme of good taste. In December 2000 the S variants received upgraded stereo systems whilst the SE models received satellite navigation as standard. The 2.2-litre HDi versions were also fitted with 'Marguerite' alloy wheels. April 2001 saw the introduction of a pair of entry-level engines; the 109bhp 2.0-litre HDi diesel and the 2.0-litre 138bhp petrol lump. A very mild facelift towards the end of 2004 saw the 607 receive body-coloured bumper strips and a re-profiled air-intake below the grille but you really will be hard pushed to tell the difference. The 2.0-litre petrol engine was discontinued around the same time. Around the end of 2005, the 2.2-litre HDi diesel engine was replaced with a 2.0-litre HDi unit packing the same power output. By this time, only the Executive trim level was on offer and specification levels had been boosted to include sat nav, and a GSM mobile phone as standard. The 607 was given a new lease of life in the Autumn of 2006 with the introduction of the 170bhp 2.2-litre twin turbo HDi diesel engine. Instantly taking over at the car's best powerplant, it offered a good blend of performance and economy.
What You Get
Inside, the interior stylists have created a spacious cabin with real class. Driver and passenger are separated by a main console that houses the controls for the standard climate control system, the audio controls and the optional satellite navigation/TV. There are splashes of chrome and either wood-effect or black applique finish, and the overall ambience is very impressive. This is an interior the quality of which will give Vauxhall salesmen sweaty palms. The only really unattractive item is the blandly bulging steering wheel. The multiplex wiring system allows for a whole host of neat electronic functions to be shoehorned in, making the 607 feel resolutely up to date. The double glazed glass, the tyre pressure monitor on each wheel, the park-assistance radar system to guide you safely into the tightest of spaces, side lights that automatically illuminate in falling light, the rear view mirror that darkens when someone's on full beam behind you, the stereo volume that rises and falls in line with your speed and particularly clever rain sensitive wipers - it's all here. These can switch on and off by themselves, work faster at night and slower in a traffic jam and switch themselves off if impeded by snow and ice. The cabin is a good place to be, the exclusivity of the car endowing the driver with a smug, breed-apart feel good factor.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
The level of build quality is excellent but there have been some stories of problems with the four-cylinder petrol engine. Stalling, especially in the 2.0-litre versions, is by no means uncommon, so try to ensure you start the engine from cold on your test drive. There's also the known weakness of this engine family of engines - the timing belt. Make sure it's been changed every 30,000 miles or it may snap without warning, seizing the engine - you have been warned. It costs about £100 to replace - much cheaper than a new engine. Otherwise make sure that the bodywork is in good condition, the wheels are free from kerbing damage and make sure the vehicle is HPI clear. Otherwise insist on a full service history and buy with confidence.
(approx based on 2001 2.0SE) A new exhaust will set you back about £385, while a replacement headlamp will be around £165. A new clutch is £155. As for front brake pads, expect to pay about £35 front and rear. A radiator will cost you around £250, an alternator around £330, and a starter motor £275.
On the Road
As soft as Fern Britton's cleavage, the 607 is ideally suited to its native environment, namely belting along autoroutes at three figure speeds. Corners a little, cities maybe, but if you're after a car for the long haul not much touches the 607. As well as the five engines there are also two transmission choices - either a slick five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Following the trend of the moment, the auto features a 'Tiptronic'-style selector which, once pushed over to the left, can be pushed up and down for 'manual' changes. More importantly, this gearbox has an auto-adaptive function that can learn your preferred driving style, judging it by 32 different criteria. As you might expect, the electronics sense if you're feeling sporty, holding on to the revs through the gears and resisting the temptation to change up in mid-corner. But this 'box goes further than that, sensing the road conditions and the environment you're travelling in. Around town for example, the car will start off in second rather than first gear, to avoid lurching getaways. The system is also clever enough to inhibit changes when ESP (the Electronic Stability Programme) is in operation. This works with the ASR skid control system and intervenes in extreme situations, automatically limiting the throttle or applying the brakes. These operate in conjunction with ABS and REF (a system that apportions maximum braking effort to the wheel most needing it). The anchors also incorporate brake assistance: this maintains maximum braking during emergency stops, even if your foot wavers from the pedal. At the same time, the hazard warning lights automatically illuminate to warn other road users of an impending problem ahead. Of the engines, the HDi diesels stand out. Driven back to back with the V6 model, the 2.2 HDi feels hardly slower. Indeed, so it proves against the clock, the diesel-engined car tripping the stopwatch to 60mph in an impressive 10.6 seconds, only 0.7 seconds adrift of the flagship 3.0-litre V6. The engine has that gutsy feel that a good turbodiesel installation should have and, with Peugeot's recent suspension upgrades, rides and handles better too. Still, you are aware of a very heavy weight in the nose, and this should be borne in mind when using the brakes enthusiastically. Although there is some slight clatter on start up, the engine is nonetheless satisfyingly refined. Whilst not yet up to BMW standards of refinement, the HDi unit still falls into the category of diesels which will convert even the most ardent driver. And with a combined fuel consumption figure of 41.5mpg, it fulfils its initial diesel remit of real world fuel savings. The 2.2-litre twin turbo HDi that came along in 2006, was more impressive still with 44mpg economy and a 9.3s sprint. The thirsty V6 option made no sense as a new buy but, if you can find one, horrific depreciation means its worth considering second hand.
The 607 has had an indifferent press and a worse public acceptance. Don't let this put you off. It's an excellent car - probably the best in its class in terms of value for money if you're a high mileage merchant. The initially steep depreciation is now working in the used buyers favour, although the stinging insurance is less easy to contend with. If you've ever wondered if there was a 'sleeper' alternative to the usual Saab/Volvo/Vauxhall axis here it is. Don't believe the hype. The 607's definitely worth a second look second time round.