“The 407 may fall somewhere between the extremes of cosy comfort and quirky sportiness… simply the best all rounder here”
The easy winner on looks was the 407. Size-wise it’s in the middle, and the design is more coherent and purposeful. A quick glance at the sexy wheels, macho grille, and wrap-around headlamps gets you in the mood for enjoying all of those 170 horses.
Inside: The two PSA Group cars have the same dash layouts – a neat, but fiddly grid of little buttons. But Peugeot’s materials seem superior, and the C5 has a shockingly bad Sat Nav screen on top of the dash. This is so poorly sited that you can’t see it properly from the driver’s seat. I had to bend my head to read the clock…
The C5’s cloth seats are the most comfy and cosy, and it’s easily the most spacious. The big Citroën feels the cheapest of the trio, but it stillmanages to be rather likeable – like your nan’s lounge really. The 407 feels cool and up-market in comparison – there are half-leather seats, and better-quality dashboard trim and dials. The 407’s Sat Nav screen is neat, and easy to read at the top of the centre console. The interior combines much of the comfort of its PSA sister with the sportiness of the Laguna. In fact, the Laguna’s interior is, like the outside, a mix of styles and qualities. There’s a complicated i-Drive style controller for Sat Nav between the seats, but the dash itself is pretty well thought out. There was some terribly wobbly trim on the test car, and those attractive black leather seats with red stitching gave me acute leg ache after 100 miles. There’s not enough thigh support if you’re six feet or over. Headroom for six-footers is tight in the back too. And the big problem with the Laguna is the ‘intelligent’ key system. Yes, it generally works fine, but occasionally there are problems. The worst time, we couldn’t get any response from the starter button in the middle of the photo-shoot, and simply left the Laguna in the middle of a car park while we shot another car. Infuriatingly, it worked as soon as techno-nerd Garth sauntered over to help.
I’ve always found the credit-card-sized ‘key’ a clever but pointless gimmick. I’ve nothing against ordinary keys, so why bother with the unreliable smart key and its start/stop button – which only gives you one more thing to do before you can go?
On the road: We went to France, and we had fun. This selection of high-powered French fancies all drive very well, and are a glowing testament to stateof- the-art diesel motoring, but after driving them all, it’s the Laguna that deserves first praise for its outstanding engine. This 16-valve direct-injection, common-rail version of the standard 110bhp Renault 2-litre diesel is a stonker. Renault claims it is the most powerful 2-litre diesel on sale in the UK. Certainly severalmanufacturers have to use bigger engines to achieve the same output – Citroën and Peugeot among them. The advantage of the smaller engine is that it is lighter, more efficient. and fuel economy is better.
And even PSA’s 2.2 twin-turbo can’tmatch it. On the road the difference is more marked than figures suggest. The Renault unit is quiet, smooth, and midrange urge is remarkable – yet fuel economy on test was 44mpg.
- Price: £21,300
- Engine: 2,179cc, 4-cyl, common-rail direct injection twin turbo V6
- Max Power: 170bhp at 4,000
- Max Torque: 277 lb ft at 1,500
- Max tow (kg): 1850
- Combined Consumption: 46.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 160g/km (Group D – £135pa)
- 0-62mph: 8.7s
- Top speed: 139mph
Six-speed manual gearbox – automatic unavailable
Remote central locking
Climate control – sunroof unavailable
Electric windows and mirrors
Metallic paint £350
Rear parking sensor
CD/RDS radio – DVD player unavailable
Split/fold rear seat
Boot 407 litres
Service interval 20,000m
Warranty 3 years