There’s a tang of garlic about this one. Peugeot’s 607 may be a Gallic elder statesman, but there’s a bright young Euro go-getter supplying some drama under the bonnet. Sue Baker put her foot down in rural France to get those turbos turning
The road ahead of me could have come straight off a French tourist board poster. Long, straight and edged with regimented lines of trees guarding the way like well-drilled soldiers, it is the stereotypical image of rural France. I’m viewing it through the windscreen of a quintessentially French car: shapely body lines, interior as plush as a Parisian boudoir, big comfy leather-clad seats.
Peugeot’s 607 executive saloon is a Charles Aznavour of a car, unmistakably Gallic and stylish, even if a bit long in the tooth. The 607 has been around since 2000, so in automotive terms it is past middle age and hurtling towards senior citizenship. The 2.2 litre HDi Euro III engine that has been the prime diesel option since the car’s launch has been getting a bit long-toothed too. If anyone was going to have their gaze deflected away from the rival German machinery long enough to consider this car, it badly needed something more enticing under that long, lionnosed front. Well now it has.
The 607 has been Botoxed under the bonnet, and a corker of an engine it is too, the best by far that the 607 has ever had. It has more power and significantly more torque spread over a wider rev band, better acceleration and a higher top speed than previously. There is 170 bhp on tap and 277lb ft of torque, coming in at an unusually early 1,500 rpm. So we have here a meaty engine, and what fleshes out the performance is its sequential twin parallel turbochargers, using patented Honeywell turbo technology. There are two identical, small-diameter turbos in place of the usual single unit. The second one starts to operate in parallel with the first at between 2,600 and 3,200 rpm, depending on the applied load and atmospheric conditions, and the result is a broader torque band that improves driveability. There is a downside to the enhanced performance.
Compared with the old engine, fuel consumption is down by around 2mpg and CO2 emissions are up by 8g/km. But those are a small price to pay for a much more effortless, quicker and more responsive car. This twin-turbo HDi is the fourth engine to emerge from the collaboration on engine development between PSA and Ford that has been ongoing since 1998. Even by the ever-rising standards of modern diesel engines, this one is a honey. It’s very responsive but also very refined, quiet and smooth-running. It’s not quite so impressive initially, because there is a modest but discernible rattle on tick-over when starting from cold. But it isn’t too obtrusive, and on the move it very quickly settles into a nicely subdued rich baritone engine note that makes very agreeable company as you drive.
You can still have a 607 with the two-litre HDi 136 engine, but when the price penalty for going bigger and twin-turbo is £1,500 on a car already in the £25,000 bracket, it would be false economy not to go for the better engine. Even though the 607 has already been around for six years, it is still pretty well up to the game for executive cosseting. The cabin is plush and elegant in a slightly clubby way. It may not match the cool understated chic of its German rivals, but is a very comfortable place to be. Unlike your Beemers and Mercs, where the list price excludes a lot of the executive goodies you want in such a car, and that have to be tacked on to a steeply rising bill as extras, the 607 has just about everything you could possibly wish for as standard kit. It has always been high-spec value for money, and the same is true of this version. Its on-the-road list price includes a long list of worthwhile gizmos, for example hi-quality hi-fi, colour sat-nav, those leather seats with electric controls, parking sensors, and even an electrically-operated bootlid are all standard.
The only obvious omission is an automatic gearbox. You can only have the six-speed manual. But with a big comfortable car that has plenty of grunt, good manners and nimble handling for its size, that is really no hardship. There is no doubt that this twin-turbo diesel, with its ample performance and excellent refinement, is the best engine we’ve seen in the 607. It’s fair value too, with the list price including such a wealth of standard equipment that there’s nothing you really need to add. Pity is doesn’t hold its value as well as the Gemans. Zut alors!
On sale: November // Price from; £24,995 (1.6 HDi) //
Main rivals: BMW 525d, Mercedes-Benz 280 CDi,Audi A6 TDI
Front and rear heated seats
Laminated side windows
Electrochrome rear view mirror
Electric folding Electrochrome door mirrors
Rear screen electric sunblind
JBL hi-fi system
6 disc CD autochanger
RT3 colour satellite navigation
Electrically adjustable front seats
17 inch alloys
Front and rear parking aid
ESP + ASR + DSC
Front SMART airbags
Front and rear side airbags
Remote central locking and deadlocks
Electric front and rear windows
Folding rear seats
Bi-zone climate control
Front fog lights
Motorised boot actuation
Tyre pressure sensors
Air conditioned glovebox
Strong performance and great refinement from the twin-turbo engine and all the equipment you could wish for
Cabin lacks the cool modernism of German rivals and the 607 is much, much faster but only at devaluating unfortunately