In the ever more densely populated world of the MPV, are style and design now seen as more important than the original concept of practicality and function? Andy Kybert investigates the MPV balancing act…
Since Peugeot launched the 807 into the UK in February 2003, more than 8,000 have hit the British roads and muscled their way into the MPV marketplace.
With obvious direct rivals such as the DNA-cloned Citroën C8 and Fiat Ulysse (all being built on the same production lines, at the same Valenciennes factory in France), the ubiquitous Renault Espace (which started the whole MPV ball rolling back in 1984), and maybe some less obvious rivals such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD and the Land Rover Discovery Td4 with seven seat option – the MPV scene is both crowded and confusing.
Tiptoeing your way through the minefield to find the best compromise to weigh your family’s space needs against your budget, whilst providing some degree of driver satisfaction is not the easiest of tasks. After having lived with the 807SE for a week of domestic rigmarole, (the stuff that this type of vehicle will have to put up with daily), I can say that in many ways the Pug is right on the money. Peugeot has spent considerable sums and countless hours in making sure that safety is the number one priority for this vehicle, a winning philosophy as a family MPV carries not just your possessions but your whole dynasty.
From its outstanding five stars awarded in the Euro NCAP tests for passenger safety to the plethora of airbags and the world’s first full-length side air curtains you can rest assured that in the event of the worst happening, your kith and kin will be pre-tensioned and cosseted from the worst effects of any incident. How you possibly arrived in any dangerous situation might also be a mystery. Coming massively equipped as the 807SE does with ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and just for good measure Emergency Brake Assist, electric child locks on the rear sliding doors, programmable automatic central door locking with deadlocks and an enhanced Electronic Stability Programme, it would be a miracle if you ever found yourself pushing the envelope beyond a point which the Peugeot designers hadn’t already anticipated and built in yet another gizmo to eliminate all possible risks!
This isn’t to say that the 807SE is anything of a slug. Quite the reverse as the driving dynamic provided by the frugal and snappy 2.0L 120bhp common rail diesel gives a satisfying amount of power under foot in most situations and the turbo doesn’t seem to suffer from the lag evident on some other less sophisticated diesels on the market. Peugeot has pretty much carved its name at the top of the tree of diesel engine design and coupled to the smooth and well spaced ratios of the six-speed manual box with the gearlever ergonomically positioned just where your left hand falls naturally means that driving is a cinch.
The clutch is light and easily controlled and as this car will probably be driven for at least 50 per cent of the time by harassed mothers late for all the educational and recreational appointments that their delightful offspring thrust upon them, the variable speed power steering will not cause tears when heaving around what is really quite a large and probably well-laden vehicle. Space — the final frontier of the MPV and whilst I have driven MPV’s with greater leg room in the centre and 3rd row seats, Peugeot’s approach with flexible (and comfortable) seating which in the rear rows are accessed by the large electronically operated sliding doors proved quite a boon in tight parking situations.
Well done Peugeot for yet another de-stressing element when trying to find the last parking space outside Tescos on a wet Saturday afternoon with several fractious kids on board…. The kids thought the rear doors were a total hoot and it was a tribute to the sound electrical engineering that despite repeated ‘back and forwards’ demonstrations to their mates, no problems were encountered! It was a shame that I forgot to demonstrate the swiveling front ‘Captain’s’ seats. This would really have brought the house down! On the downside of my week with the 807SE (and these will be the short paragraphs), I could see no reason why Peugeot had glued the large interior rear view mirror so low on the centerline of the windscreen as to cause a possible blind spot when approaching junctions.
Luggage space behind the third row of seats is strictly limited to soft bags and cuddly toys when you have the seats in place. If you regularly carry seven people and their assorted paraphernalia, then a roof boxmay be a wise acquisition. Talking of which, Freddie my lad of 13 took one look at what he called the “Chavvy” spoiler and was only persuaded to climb aboard when it was pointed out that this “spoiler” was in fact an impeccable piece of dual design in that it doubled as “pullapart” roof rails for the mounting of a roof box. Clever stuff eh! Incidentally Freddie was called upon again to sort out the confusing (to anyone over the age of 18 who has never owned an X-Box) SatNav, Audio and trip computer.
I’d previously driven a Xsara Picasso with the same sort of trip computer but with infinitely simpler controls that even someone as technologically challenged as myself could understand and operate with relative ease. Perhaps this needs a little simplification and maybe even a good close look at the ergonomics of the switchgear and audio/telephone layout should be top of the list for the design gurus when this model comes up for its mid-term overhaul. A week was just about long enough to get the flavour of the where’s and how’s of the 807SE’s dashboard controls. I suppose it’s the penalty for having so much electrical switchgear control over the various functions of the car, a situation which Peugeot has taken to full advantage with the use of a new CAN harness protocol with multiplexed electronics.
Yeah, I understood that as well but after a bit of digging around on the web it means that the wiring will last longer and allegedly be more robust than the wiring of previous Peugeots of yesteryear. Well that’s all right then! As long as it helps the heated door mirrors to swing in gracefully when the car is parked up at night and leap into action when the remote central locking is de-activated the next morning, I’ll be a happy bunny! Really, we have got to the point where mere motorists just have to accept that modern cars are complex electronic entities and the days of re-wiring an errant door light switch with a bit of spare cable are over. Computers rule OK! Overall the car is well put together, but does nothing outstanding. Its good points can be largely balanced by its poorer points.
A 5 Star Eurocap for passenger safety is balanced by a one star rating for pedestrian impact for example. In a limited list of true rivals though, there is little to choose between, with perhaps the New Galaxy coming out ahead on points, unless of course you want the optional eight-seat version which of course gives the Pug the small edge it needs to offer something different.
On sale: Now // Price from: £21,000 //
Main Rivals: C8 120 SX (£22.160), Ford Galaxy 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec(£22,995)
- Price: £22,890 (26,139 with extras)
- Engine: 1997cc 16-valve turbo charged
- Max Power: 120bhp at 4,000
- Max Torque: 225lb ft at 2,000
- Combined Consumption:40.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 182g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 12.9secs
- Max speed: 111mph
Cruise control and limiter
Remote control electronic sliding doors
Flip up tables
Passenger underseat stowage
Electronically folding/heated door mirrors
Electronic child locks for rear doors
Isofix child fixings
Front fog lamps
Speed variable steering
Remote contol central locking with deadlocks
Curtain airbags for all three rows
OPTIONS FITTED TO TEST CAR
Metallic Paint £350
Parking Aid £250
RT3 Colour Sat Nav/Radio/CD and GSM phone £1350
6-Disc autochanger £300
Tinted windows £100
DVD player & 2x infrared headphones £899
Eight seat practicality and a reasonable balance of power and economy. dash is comfortable on the eye
Stupidly confusing and complicated trip computer and unergonomic controls. Nothing really stands out