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Lost lustre of past appeal


In recent times the carmaker has had a more chequered time. At times its vehicles were assembled here, but that was some years ago and they have been imported for many years now.

In recent years the brand hasn't always been well supported and it has lost some of the lustre it once had as a consequence.

Build quality has always been an issue with French cars and Peugeot has suffered from inconsistent quality, which wasn't always helped by a lack of support from the brand's dealers or importers.

MODEL WATCH

The 307 replaced the 306 in 2001 and came well credentialled having been voted European Car of the Year for 2002.

While it replaced the 306 it was significantly larger than the 306. Whereas the 306 was regarded as a small car, the 307 was a size larger, almost a mid-sized model. But along with the extra size came an airy and roomy interior, which provided comfortable accommodation for four, and five at a pinch.

While French cars are usually renowned for their comfortable, absorbent ride, the 307 didn't fit the mould.

Peugeots have always been regarded as having a supple suspension that has delivered a most comfortable ride, without having a negative effect on the handling, but the 307 ride was more nervous and without the absorbency of other Peugeots. On the road it showed a nice balance with good grip and communicative steering, and a solid braking feel. Overall it was a nice package.

There were two petrol engines and a diesel offered in the 307.

The petrol engines consisted of a 1.6-litre double overhead cam four that produced 80kW and 147Nm and a 2.0-litre DOHC four that produced 100kW and 190Nm; the 2.0-litre single overhead cam diesel boasted 66kW and 206Nm.

The transmission choices were a five-speed manual, which had a rather imprecise shift, and a four-speed auto, a limiting factor when it came time to get up and go.

In auto form the 1.6-litre 307 was best described as lethargic. Even with the right foot buried deep in the carpet and the air turned off, the acceleration could be measured using the progress of the sun.

In manual form it was a different story. With relatively short gearing the five-speed manual car got off the line quickly and with a good torque spread it was a nice easy car to drive.

It took 11 seconds or so to reach 100km/h from a standstill, with another 7.5 seconds needed to cover the standing 400m dash. Top speed was 190km/h.

The 2.0-litre was clearly quicker and quite a nice little performer, while the turbo diesel delivered at the pump.

The 307 came in hatchback form initially, but a wagon and a convertible were added to the range in 2003.

The XS 1.6 five-door was the mainstay of the range and came with a host of standard equipment, including front and side airbags, ABS with brake-force distribution, cloth trim, power windows, remote central locking, airconditioning, immobiliser, and CD player. The XS model was also available with the diesel engine.

In addition, there was the XSE five-door, which had the 2.0-litre engine plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and five-stacker CD system.

Atop the range sat the XSi three-door that also had the 2.0-litre engine plus leather trim and 17-inch alloy wheels.

IN THE SHOP

Build quality was inconsistent at first and there were a few problems as a result. The 307 seems to be plagued by electrical gremlins that can be frustrating to sort out.

Some owners complain about the rate of brake wear that has them replacing pads and discs quite frequently.

There is also some complaint about the brake dust that builds up on wheels.

Seats tend to collapse at low kilometres when the cushion material breaks down.

Paint quality is also an issue so keep a careful watch for blotchy marks and faded areas on exposed surfaces.

It seems that most owners rate the 307 quite highly when all goes well, but quickly become frustrated when problems develop.

It's a good idea to find a dealer with experience working on Peugeots, as some dealers appear to struggle to diagnose and fix faults when they occur, while others appear to be on top of things and fix problems quickly.

CRUNCH TIME

The 307 boasted an impressive array of airbags that provided a comprehensive package of protection when things turned nasty. All models had front airbags for the driver and passenger, plus front side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags. With anti-skid braking, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, along with good chassis fundamentals, the 307 makes an attractive buy on safety grounds.

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