Usually I get radically different cars to muck around in, but I dropped the Turbo Ghia off and picked up the XR Turbo as a comparison. Well, it still drinks like a dehydrated Labrador. This one only has 5 seats, so I don’t look like a prolific breeder whenever I park up in a crowd.
Winter can be a difficult time for reviewing cars. Occasionally Thor, God of Thunder, is in town, and not just for a lightning quick stop, so getting a decent photoshoot in the shorter daylight hours is a battle. Unlike many people, I don’t mind driving in the rain as long as I have a decent car to do it in, and fortunately Peugeot’s shark-like 407SW HDi V6 is perfect for the water.
Usually I like driving uncompromising, uncomfortable and edgy cars that make your ears bleed and teeth rattle, but when ‘il pleut’ (as they say in France) I like an armchair of a seat, fast window wipers and a heater that could melt my ex-wife’s heart. Time to get the 407SW wet while I stay warm and dry.
Both leather front seats are spacious and comfortable with electric adjustment. They’re supportive laterally as well, but without being intrusive in a bucket-seat type of way. Straight ahead is a set of dials that evokes a bygone era — very classy, but quite at odds with the LCD screen and swarm of buttons in the central console.
It may be raining outside the car, but I’ve opened the electric blind on the panoramic glass roof to laugh with impunity at all that Thor can muster, and off we go! Eating up the motorway miles is a doddle, so I turn off for some more challenging tarmac. Engaging the sports suspension mode and the Porsche Tiptronic gearbox I’m impressed with the handling. Cars this size usually don’t like being thrown into tight bends on wet tarmac, and it certainly helps to have 235/45R18 Pirelli P-Zeros on all four corners.
The 407SW’s steeply raked front window and long bonnet really give you the sense you are driving from the middle of the car. Under the bonnet lies a class-leading turbo diesel in terms of fuel efficiency and meeting stringent Euro IV emissions ratings. It contains a maintenance-free FAP (Filtre Ã Particules) filter which means that the exhaust emissions are virtually particle-free. Our 2.7-litre V6 test car reaches 100kph in a claimed 8.5 seconds, delivering 150kW and a whopping 440Nm of torque at only 1900rpm. It’s acceleration that is seamless and smooth, but is blighted by slight lag from take-off.
Driving in the wet takes more concentration than in the dry and Peugeot’s 407SW has a multitude of features to make it an easy for the driver. It has a user-friendly cruise control (you set the precise speed you want on the digital readout) and a speed limiter to thwart any pesky speed cameras along the way. Automatic rain-sensing wipers and automatic lights give you two less things to think about. One thing that is an advantage to figure out before you depart, though, is the stereo. It’s a competent 10-speaker JBL system with a six-stacker CD in the boot, but other than putting a CD in and turning up the volume, the controls are not intuitive for finding or tuning radio stations or changing settings.
The 407SW’s only real problem is its storage. The back seats don’t fold flat, the glovebox is small, and there are not enough cubby holes. Still, this should be a car on your shortlist if you are a person who does a lot of travelling, and wants to do it in style and comfort. It’s economical, quiet, probably better for the environment than travelling on a dirty, polluting bus, and if you’re a European car lover you won’t let its minor quirks cloud your judgement. It’s packed full of features, so reading the instruction manual is essential to get the most from them. If the V6 at between $66,990 and $69,990 is more than you’d like to spend, there’s a four-cylinder diesel at $54,990 to suit.
Price: from $66,990
What we like
- Fuel efficiency and cleanliness
What we don’t like
- Lots of quirks
- Needs careful study of the instruction manual
- Back seats don’t lie flat
- Lag on take-off
Words and photos Darren Cottingham
I’m thinking about having a competition to get the stupidest reversing camera photos. The Territory has a reversing camera that has a fisheye lens. Send in your photos to email@example.com.
This morning the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (http://www.aceee.org/) was quoted in CNN (see here: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/07/06/greenest.meanest/index.html). They’ve released a list of the greenest and meanest vehicles and the VW Toureg came out worst. I’d say they haven’t tested enough cars. For a start, I know that Andy the Hitman’s diesel Toyota with close to 300,000km on the clock is far more polluting and inefficient than the Toureg. Steve the Wizard’s Landie wouldn’t be far behind. And, Sean the Ninja has a 1962 Porsche that uses mercury, cadmium, lead, uranium, Whiskers cat food and Diet Coke to power it. Now, that’s polluting!!
North Shore City Council may or may not be responsible for the debacle that is Esmonde Rd, Takapuna, but I will blame them anyway. Which is why I’m glad I had a big beige Territory Turbo to negotiate it in this morning, and not a manual diesel Toyota like Andy the Hitman. Stop-start, stop-start… I’m going to buy a motorbike…or maybe a helicopter.
Now owned and operated as a test facility by Mr B (Bernie Ecclestone), this 3.8km former F1 track was built in 1969 and last saw action in 1990 after which the French Grand Prix moved to Magny Cours. Named after the eccentric drinks magnate Paul Ricard, who financed it with liquor profits, it was sold in 1999 to Mr B after Paul Ricard’s death.
For many years it was considered to be the safest motor racing facility in the world. It also had a certain ambience, great surroundings and not least, according to visiting drivers, the best and most challenging blast along the roads that lead into/away from the circuit. Sometimes it was considered more fun than race day itself.
By Phil Clark
Built in 1972, close to the Maranello plant, it was Enzo Ferrari’s own brainchild. An experimental track where Ferrari racing and GT cars are tested, as well being utilised by drivers for practice and by mechanics and the racing team for training. Being an experimental track it is very different from a racing circuit, due to its lack of spectators and the presence of only one car at a time on the track. The 3km circuit has been specifically designed to provide a true testing environment, and has an average speed for the course of 160 km/h and peaks of more than 290 km/h.
Located at the track and on display (just visible in the aerial shot, near the inner circuit buildings) is an ex-Italian Air Force F104 Starfighter (in red). It was gifted to Ferrari following the head-to-head acceleration race between Gilles Villeneuve in the 1981 F1 car and the Air Force’s fastest jet, the Starfighter. Just in case you are wondering, yes Gilles did win.
By Phil Clark
Originally built as Honda’s test track in 1962 it is one of the few figure-of-eight circuits in the world. This fantastic sweeping and elevated 5.8km circuit is one of the ‘must haves’ in any motorsport calendar, and has hosted F1 since 1987. Given its unique configuration and design, its good to know that drivers are given the odd mountain to climb in their careers.
Worth a mention is the ‘S’ curve, which asks big questions of both car and driver, through braking, downshifting, turning left, short bursts, positive camber, turning right, negative camber etc. Also the renowned 130R corner, named after the angle radius of the turn, still offers a challenge and is popular with drivers even though it has been a little emasculated since 2003.
Unfortunately for Honda, Toyota and their revamped Fuji circuit will be seeing the F1 circus over the next few years.
By Phil Clark