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Road Test: Peugeot 307 XS

By Damien Tomlinson - 26/Apr/2006

Peugeot 307Peugeot’s an interesting company. Their cars have been around for ages, you rarely hear anything negative about the range’s reliability, the cars are reasonably priced and the quality is typically European. But Peugeot is and always has been a niche brand, a French company competing on the world stage, seemingly without a care for what the others are doing, with a select few models in each segment.

I hadn’t driven a Pug before, but as I’d seen more and more of them around the place, my interest was piqued to the point where I jumped at the chance to shoehorn my sizable frame into one for a week. While I’m more acclimatised to the luxurious surrounds of the top-of-the-range models of whatever I review, it was refreshing to steer an “everyman” model for a change.

The 307 on test, the XS, was the “Series II” version - Peugeot’s mid-life update on a model that’s been around for several years. The “new” 307 gains a corporate face more akin to the gorgeous 407, bigger headlights, front fogs as standard, dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter and many other subtle, mainly cosmetic, improvements.

While this is not designed to be an exciting car per se, Peugeot has done a good job on sexing up the 307 with relatively minor modifications; it’s an attractive car. Not Alfa-Romeo-Brera sexy, but easy on the eye, in a not-another-Excel-or-Corolla way. The French have gone out of their way to try and offer buyers something a little different in the small-car segment, and I reckon it works pretty well.

for detailed specs on the Peugeot 307 range.

Make: Peugeot
Model: 307 XS
Price: $24,990
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Engine: 1.6-litre, inline 4-cylinder, petrol
Seats: 5
Safety: 6 airbags (driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags), ABS, EBD, ESP


Peugeot 307
Peugeot 307

Peugeot's 307 SX features a rather
economic 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder engine
and has a certain stylishness to boot

The new 'do' on the 307 really brings it closer, design-wise, to the 407, and the restyled front end gives the car a basking-shark-like appearance with its huge mouth, which splits the bumper into two pieces. 

As I said, the XS is Peugeot’s entry-level model in the 307 series, which is one category above the teeny 206, and because it’s not trying to match it with the hot hatches on the market, I was quite surprised by the zip factor of the little beast.

The XS produces 80kW @ 5800rpm and 147Nm of torque @ 4000rpm, translating to a 0-100km/h sprint of 10.7 seconds and a standing kilometre in the low 30s. Not outstanding figures, but the Pug feels a lot zippier than it is, and tops out at 190km/h in fifth gear.

This inner-city warrior performs its intended function with aplomb; it happily cruises through stop-go traffic, takes on supermarket car parks with ease and keeps a smile on your face at the same time.

If there was a complaint I had with the 307’s driving performance, it would be its transmission and clutch. The shifter wallowed around the ratios and, due to the high-riding seating position, I found I was reaching a long way for the shifter, and regularly had trouble finding second gear when I was in a hurry.

I also found the clutch had a very late take-up, and didn’t provide a lot of feel through the pedal. This meant I found it hard to find the take-up point at first, hurting the confidence for non-handbrake hill starts.

That said, a friend of mine who has just shelled out for one of these reports neither of these problems, so it may have just been a toll of the journo abuse in my example. Nonetheless, lowering the seat height would take care of the reaching problem, but I prefer to sit high over the wheel, so this created some headaches for me. 

Not sure about the clutch, but by the end of the week I was a dab hand. Perhaps, like any car, getting completely used to the clutch may take a little longer than a week.

One of the big things that’s happening in the world of small cars is that manufacturers are under increasing pressure from the fossil-fuels-sensitive buying public to “entice” them into the smaller cars by including features and options previously unseen in entry-level cars. This is great news for buyers, because the bog-standard 307 XS I drove had a plush (cloth) trim, a 6-speaker Clarion sound system, a funky heads-up display (HUD) to broadcast all sorts of important system information, date, temperature etc, one-touch power windows and cruise control, among other gadgetry, including airbags almost everywhere.

Safety is obviously a big deal for Peugeot. I took great delight in showing off the car’s new plastic panels. The impact-absorbing materials used in modern bumpers have been applied to the car’s front-quarter panels, minimising damage in low-speed impacts. The demonstration saw me sink a knee into a wheel well, to the horror of the target on-looker. Great fun.

As far as accommodation goes, the Pug is surprisingly roomy. Because of the upright seating position, Peugeot has created a lot of room to hide the engine under the steep and short bonnet. This, combining with a raked, large windscreen, translates to what appears to be a huge dashboard and an airy cabin. I had the pleasure of carting four adults to a function in the little 307, and all remarked on the space inside. Top marks.

Engine: Peugeot 1.6-litre inline 4-cylinder

The transversely mounted 1587cc L4 engine features 4-valves per cylinder actuated by dual overhead camshafts (DOHC). The engine block is cast-iron, the cylinder heads are aluminium alloy and the compression ratio is a heady 10.8:1 The 307 XS with the 1.6-litre gasoline engine is fitted with a 60 litre fuel tank and will accept 95 RON and higher grades offuel.

Fuel Consumption: 7.4L/100km (combined cycle)

Max Power: 80kW @ 5800rpm
Max Torque: 147Nm @ 4000rpm
0-100km/h: 10.7 seconds

Overall: 4/5

 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Peugeot’s reputation for quality with a few interesting quirks held true. Here is a car that is helping the Aussie small-car market finally push through the buzz-box pigeonhole, showing the Toyotas, Hyundais and Nissans of the world that small and affordable doesn’t have to mean “cheap”. It's got a style all its own that should outlast many of its aforementioned rivals as time wears on, and with its impressive complement of airbags and other touches like the HUD and Clarion stereo, the $25k Pug is a very well-equipped, well-built small car that makes a very good impression.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Good Value
  • Standard Equipment
  • Surprisingly Quick
  • Focus on Safety
  • Mushy Transmission
  • Seating Position

Comments on the review? The Car? Your Car? Email us.

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