Peugeot’s 307 was one of the best-selling hatchbacks of the last decade, and in judicious 110bhp form, provides not only a comfortable ride and decent handling, but also strong performance and impressive fuel economy
Facelifted in 2005, Peugeot’s punchy five-speed manual 307 1.6 HDi won’t cost an arm and a leg to run and it’s wonderfully relaxing ride on long motorway journeys, but equally at home nipping around town.
Quick, quiet and economical, the 307 has a lot more cabin space than its predecessor, 306, and it was lauded by the critics when it first appeared back in 2001, winning the coveted European Car of the Year crown. Popular with families, it’s safe, solid and great to drive, and the switchgear is simple to operate, while the cabin is spacious for front and rear seat occupants – although entering and exiting the rear seats is easier in the fivedoor version. Handling is good, but the steering is a little too light for many drivers’ tastes, and the clutch pedal has a rather long travel. The 1.6-litre 110bhp 1.6HDi engine (which also comes in weaker 90bhp form) returns 57mpg at the pumps and boot space is ample for the class – although access is slightly compromised by large rear light clusters. But you will find plenty of space for possessions, thanks to numerous cubbyholes.
The 2005 facelift delivered a restyled front end and a new electrical system to attempt to alleviate some of the problems suffered by earlier 307s, and all models come with six airbags and a four-star Euro NCAP rating, plus ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution. Available in S, SE, and Sport specs, even entry-level S models get 15-inch alloys, electric front windows, air con and a CD player in their equipment list, along with 16-inch alloys and a leather steering wheel from June 2005, and fog lamps from June 2006. SE models gain electric rear windows, a trip computer and a CD autochanger, top-of-the- range Sport models come with colour-coded bodywork, 17-inch alloys, full leather trim and an auto dipping rear view mirror.
If the 307 has an Achilles heel then it’s reliability. The car finished near the foot of the 2004 JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey, despite the fact that 75 per cent of owners said they were satisfied with their cars. Common complaints include all manner of electrical glitches, common-rail to injector leaks, juddering clutches, water leaks into the ABS system, poor starting, flat spots and hesitation, worn front anti-roll bars, cracked windscreens and broken plastic dipsticks. Consequently a decent warranty is a must when buying this model and it’s essential to have a full service history – make sure you read it through carefully, too.
Found everywhere from main dealer forecourts, to used car supermarkets, independent dealers and advertised privately, prices start at under £4,000 – but cars this cheap may have covered in excess of 100,000 miles or more and won’t be in perfect condition. A much more prudent £5,000 buys a 75,000-mile SE model in good condition from a forecourt.