Citroen: 2014 C4 Grand Picasso HDi Intensive review

May 30th, 2014 by Richard Edwards

DSC_0020While driving up the ‘fun’ section of State Highway 29 in Citroen’s new C4 Grand Picasso, it was reinforced to me that kiwi buyers should be considering options other than a Sports Utility Vehicle for their family carrying needs. Continue reading “Citroen: 2014 C4 Grand Picasso HDi Intensive review” »

Peugeot reveals AWD diesel-hybrid 508 RXH wagon

July 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot’s new 508 RXH diesel-electric hybrid has been revealed with photos and details released by the French carmaker ahead the model’s world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The RXH heralds in a new nameplate but also comes with all-wheel drive thanks to a Hybrid4 diesel electric drivetrain.

The hybrid setup features a turbocharged 2.0-litre HDi diesel engine which works with a 28kW electric motor to give a combined output of 147kW and 450Nm of torque. The diesel engine drives the front wheels while the electric motor handles business at the rear axle, allowing the 508 RXH a four-wheel drive mode. The hybrid setup also allows the wagon to run on a pure electric mode although Peugeot has not revealed the vehicle’s “zero-emissions” range. Economy is rated at 4.2 litres of diesel per 100km combined, with emissions at 109 g/km of CO2.

The 508 RXH rides on high suspension and comes with unique styling features like a bespoke front bumper with vertical LED lights, 18-inch wheels, under body plastic mouldings and chrome roof rails. Interior features include electric front seats, heads up display, a panoramic glass roof and satellite navigation. Continue reading “Peugeot reveals AWD diesel-hybrid 508 RXH wagon” »

Peugeot 308 HDi 2011 Review

June 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While it’s never managed to kick the same foothold into the NZ car market as its 207 supermini sibling, the 308 hatch has diligently chipped its way into the consciousness of kiwi car buyers. In our hardest fought market segment, dominated by Japanese metal, the 308 remains a refreshing alternative and has won its fans accordingly. It reached showrooms for the first time back in 2008 and now, has been updated with a reworked Euro 5 compliant diesel engine. Car and SUV had some seat time in the French family hatch to reconnect and feel the impact of the cleaner, greener 2.0-litre diesel motor.

With European emissions regulations changing to the stricter Euro 5 standard earlier this year Peugeot has got with the program on its 308 diesel range. The results have reached us here in NZ with the new 308 diesel hatch not just releasing less emissions (down to 120g) but with more power too. The turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel mill has had a power increase of 20kW to 120kW and a torque bump of 20Nm to a solid 340Nm in total. Can you notice the difference? You bet. The 308 HDi is a livelier performer, it gets off the line quickly and the high torque output makes it responsive at most speeds. There is a slight hesitation waiting for the turbo to spool up, but you won’t be left hanging long. While you wouldn’t call the 308 HDi a hot hatch, the power bump up has certainly given it a more muscular bend. That said, it remains a nicely refined diesel motor with very little vibration and noise once warmed up. Continue reading “Peugeot 308 HDi 2011 Review” »

Peugeot NZ confirms release of 308 RCZ

July 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot 308 RCZ teaser1

Peugeot New Zealand has confirmed that it will be bringing Peugeot’s exciting new sports car, the 308 RCZ, to New Zealand in 2010. Initially unveiled as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007, the RCZ will soon become a production reality.

So far only teaser images have been released of the new model but Peugeot’s stylists and engineers have apparently worked to ensure that the RCZ will be keeping with the expectations created by the design of the original concept.

Divisional Manager of Peugeot New Zealand, Simon Rose, says “I have been fortunate enough to see and drive the new 308 RCZ in the flesh last week in Paris.”

“It is an outstanding example of Peugeot’s stand point and position regarding producing innovative and stylish looking products. Its also testament to the last few years of investment and the position taken in terms of money continuing to be channeled into research and design, all be it in the middle of a challenging world economy.”

Subject to overseas demand, the 308 RCZ will likely launch in NZ as early as mid 2010 and will be the brands image car in terms of profiling both HDi and Diesel technology, as well as showing off new styling that’s set to cover future models in the range.

Engine specification includes the high performance 1.6 petrol and 2.0 High Pressure Direct Injection diesel versions which will be mated to a 6 speed automatic gearbox.

Peugeot 407 HDi Sedan 2009 Review

May 22nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham


Legend has it that William Tell was made to shoot an apple off the head of his son as punishment for not bowing to Hermann Gessler’s hat. Tell’s first bolt from his crossbow split the fruit.

The Peugeot 407 isn’t quite as accurate as Tell. It would have bruised the apple while simultaneously grazing the head of its unfortunate offspring. In today’s super-competitive car market, accuracy is important, and the 407 just doesn’t quite have it.

Don’t get me wrong, though; you could live with a 407, especially around town — it’s got reasonable performance, good boot space, progressive (if slightly polarising) styling, an adequate sound system, excellent fuel economy and so on. But it fails to excel in the one area it should: long distance driving.

A quick jaunt from Auckland to the ‘Naki revealed some traits that were concerning, the primary ones being lots of road noise, and slightly crashy suspension. Tyre choice is a big factor in road noise, so this may be able to be alleviated, but why should you have to buy a new set of tyres before the first set has worn out? And that might not solve the suspension issue which, while giving brilliant handling in the corners, seems unnecessarily bumpy.
After four hours in the seat, my passenger and I were faring well, if a little fatigued. The seats are fully electrically adjustable and also have a three-stage heater and adjustable lumbar support. Where the seats are comforting, the draft-proofing of the windows was not, with a constant light breeze coming from just behind the A-pillar.

Anyone who has driven through the Awakino Gorge, and onwards to Mt Messenger will have experienced the large number of corners marked between 35-55kph. The trick rear suspension comes into play here, providing a reassuring and sporty ride, but the Peugeot’s steeply raked windscreen, which gives it its signature look, proved a slight liability on these corners as it also creates a long A-pillar that produces a bit of a blind spot. This blind spot is even worse when it’s raining.

Our test car had almost 4000km on the clock, but the interior smelled like it was leaking volatile organic compounds and even made our clothing smell.

But, the biggest sin I can think of to annoy the long distance traveller is the complete omission of anywhere to put a water bottle. There is one measly cup holder, and that’ll only take a takeaway coffee cup. That really is unacceptable in a car of this era, particularly as the remainder of the in-cabin storage is scant and not particularly useful. I ended up leaving my water bottle in between my legs, and what you don’t want at the end of a long journey is groin-warmed water. One more beef: you can’t open the boot unless the key is out of the ignition.

If you’ve got this far and are currently seriously doubting your intention to purchase a 407 I’d like to point out that it’s not a rotten apple, and in fact does have some crisp and juicy bits. Parking sensors all around make manoeuvring simple, and are essential given the design of the car. The speed limiter/cruise control combo with the ability to set an exact speed to stick to is simple to use, and extremely welcome on long journeys, and the handling inspires enough confidence that you can leave it set to 100kph even around 70kph corners (and that’s in the wet!) It has that Euro styling factor that’s distinctive. And finally, the six-speed gearbox with Tiptronic and sport mode was very smooth, and when mated to the two-litre, 136hp diesel engine gives a dependable and easy surge of performance when needed.

Overall, though, I was disappointed. We’ve had two other 407 models in the past, and they both performed admirably. This latest rendition seems to have missed the mark. It was fine around town, but if you just want to eat up the miles, why wouldn’t you choose a Mazda6?

Price: $54,990

What we like

  • Frugal with the fuel (7.1l/100km)
  • Good boot space
  • Excellent handling
  • Excellent safety (8 airbags, 5-star crash rating)

What we don’t like

  • It doesn’t cut it against the competition
  • Tiring on long journeys
  • Lack of interior storage

Darren Cottingham Photos: Adam Mamo

Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 Review

March 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot 308 HDi 2008 fq

I’ve been telling people I’m driving a 308 hoping they’ll think it’s a Ferrari 308, but it’s unlikely. Ferrari had a few models that featured a zero as the middle number (the 206 for example), but now Peugeot has an exclusive monopoly on that way of naming cars.

One thing that Ferrari owners will be jealous of is the 308’s frugality (and probably reliability). The 1.6-litre version of the 308 has just set a fuel economy record for driving around Australia in the hands of John and Helen Taylor. I wonder about the reasons for doing this in the same way I wonder if Nandor Tanczos’s hair is prehensile like a monkey’s tail because by far the best way to travel around Australia is to fly between the bits that aren’t vast barren expanses of orange dust and thorny plants.

I’m not here to set fuel economy records though because I’ve got the 2-litre HDi (turbo-diesel) with a 6-speed Tiptronic auto and a tempting ‘S’ button for Sport mode, which changes down earlier and up later.

This gives the 308 plenty of wallop. It’s not so much the power (100kW), but the torque (320Nm) that gets you going quickly. Fortunately the 308 has 215/55R16 wheels and well-calibrated traction control otherwise vaporised tyres would be on the menu. Tempting as it is to use this I still managed 7.1l/100km (against a quoted 6.8 from Peugeot) without it, and somewhere in the high 8-second range with it.

The panoramic glass roof has all the benefits of a convertible without the sunburned forehead and bad hair. I will guarantee that while travelling around Australia the Taylors (if they had had it) would have kept the sunroof’s electric blind firmly closed because in strong sun it’s significantly warmer, and you don’t want to be using the air conditioning when trying to sip the diesel frugally. I personally loved the roof, though, and the enormous Mitsubishi Pajero I swapped it for felt positively claustrophobic in comparison.

In the 407 HDi we tested last year, we found that it was a good car but with an interior where elements fought against one another. This is not the case in the 308. The interior flows nicely and the white-faced dials integrate with the whole understated experience, rather than feeling a bit ‘try-hard’ like they do in the 407, where they clash with the über-modern stereo.

French cars are often quirky, but this Peugeot is much less so than others. Of course, it’s still French — the cigarette lighter is easier to reach than the gear knob — but it does things in a very orderly Japanese way.

An example of the quirkiness is the indicator. While most cars have a click-clack when the indicator is activated, the Peugeot has a two-tone electronic blip — very Atari. Someone must have spent hours determining the pitch.

While it may be French, the inside has a positively marsupial feel about it. As well as the included cargo net in the boot which makes a nice pouch, there’s a very clever hidden compartment in the parcel shelf that hinges either from the front or the back, and a very unexpected sunglasses compartment where the grab handle usually is.

Seats are stylish and comfortable with metallic grey inserts and unlike some Peugeots it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position straight away. In an age of multifunction steering wheels the Peugeot’s looks naked in comparison. Controls for the audio and cruise control are on stubby European-style wands on the steering column.

An athermic acoustically laminated front windscreen helps keep out the hot sun as well as deaden the diesel drone (which is sufficiently refined, but suffered from a bit of turbo whine or resonance in our test car at certain speeds). The engine has a FAP (particle filter) so exhaust particle emissions are significantly reduced.

Safety features haven’t been skimped upon. Seven airbags and all the acronyms under the sun for driver aids contribute to a five-star Euro NCAP

The 308 is well-proportioned and athletic from the rear, but move around to the front and something’s not quite right. It’s like an overly fragranced French beauty — you catch a glimpse from a distance, the briefest whiff, and you’re drawn to her, but get up really close and your eyes water. It’s the space below the droopy nose just doesn’t quite work close up. But everything else about the car is extremely good — handling, features and fuel economy. This is the best Peugeot we’ve driven.

Click through to the next page for the full specification of the Peugeot 308 HDi

Price: from $42,990

What we like

  • It’s the best Peugeot we’ve driven
  • Glass roof
  • Frugal on the open road

What we don’t like

  • Nose styling doesn’t work close up
  • At about 95kph there’s a harmonic vibration in the engine/turbo (could just have been our test car)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Peugeot 407SW HDi V6 2007 Review

July 27th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Peugeot 407SW HDI V6

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 à 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

Click here to view Peugeot 407s for sale

What we like

  • Comfort
  • Dials
  • Power
  • Fuel efficiency and cleanliness
  • Tyres

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

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