307 Road Test – 307 Review

The 307 is a medium sized car made by Peugeot from 2001-2009. StrikeEngine had a 1.4litre model on test for 7days

The Peugeot 307 was a fresh looking car when it first appeared on the scene. It’s shape was the fore runner to many of today’s cars including the Seat Leon and Opel Astra where pedestrian safety is also tested which directly effects the appearance of the car. Time has not been kind to the 307 however, the MK1 307 now looks bulbous especially since the release of the new sharper looking 308. Having said that, the looks of the 307 are not where it is at. The car has a fantastically competent chassis and has loads of interior space and gives it occupants a real feeling of luxury. Things which are highly unusual in a car of this class.

307 Road Test – 307 Review

The interior of the car is well put together and one gets the idea a lot of thought has been made of the ergonomics. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the 307’s interior is the amount of elbow available. Its bulbous looks do serve a purpose and that is too give the car a surprising amount of interior space. Another striking feature of the 307 is the sheer distance the windscreen is away from the driver. It is impossible to touch while sitting in the seat. This again gives the impression of a vast amount of interior space but at the same time the cockpit still has a cozy feel. The materials used in the cabin are soft to the touch and while they don’t give you the impression that you are in a luxury the soft texture of the materials give you the idea that Peugeot really did put some thought into making the interior a nice place to be and didn’t simply plaster anything in there.

307 Road Test – 307 Review

The steering wheels is generally hard but it has just enough texture to put the surface for it to be classed a cut above the likes of steering wheels from Opel, Mazda and Ford. Visibility is good all-round but one aspect of the interior that really sticks out is the thickness of the A-Pillars, they really are massive, but this is a now common trend for most modern cars and is not a specific fault of the 307. Visibility is most compromised entering medium sized roundabouts but like anything you learn to adapt. In normal driving the large pillar is not so much of an issue.

Dash illumination is nothing to write home about, it is basic but it is clear. it does the job, nothing more can be said of it than this. The general feeling of the buttons is good, they have a nicely damped action which again reinforces the impression that Peugeot engineering really did make an effort to make the interior a very nice to be. Sitting position for the driver is a little high, but this side of a BMW the same thing can be said about any car. legroom front and rear is adequate and boot space is acceptable.

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We have a 1.4 petrol on our test car. Obviously this was not going to set any speed records but the engine never felt or sounded labored in normal driving and was not averse to being revved either. Although revving the engine did not have such a big effect on the acceleration. Nevertheless the engine was a nice unit which was quite economical and was quite happy punting the weight of the 307 around. Motorway speeds were not a problem unless you were thinking of clocking up some big European mileages. The comfortable cruising speed for the 1.4 307 was 85 to 90mph. Fine for the UK but I feel you would need something with a bit more punch if you were thinking of going on a big euro jaunt. The sound of the engine was also not unpleasant. Basically it was a good unit.

The brakes were the big stand out for us. Of all the cars we have tested including Golfs, Astras, Mazda 6s, Primeras, Stilo, Fiesta, Ford Focus, the brakes on the 307 were simply on another planet. The brakes were mind alteringly, vision blurringly good. You can leave your braking late, then leave it another second and then push the brakes and the car will simply stop. The car will stop so well your eyes wont be able to compute what is happening. On a lot of cars the ABS kicks in and you can feel a slight reduction in braking force while the ABS pumps away, not in the 307, ABS activated or not the cars feels like it has run into a seriously strong bungee strap. I have never landed an F15 onto the deck of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier but I think the deceleration the pilots are exposed to when the arresting hook comes into contact with the wire is around half that the average 307 driver feels on their way to work. God knows where the grip comes from, the car we had rode on suitably skinny 195 profile tyres but you wouldn’t have know it from the braking performance.

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The steering feel of the 307 was not a high point, typical of most modern cars, it was over assisted and as the antithesis to the interior you can tell this is one area where the engineers had not made an effort to make the driver feel part of the action. That is not to say the car didn’t turn in, it did, and to be honest we never experienced any oversteer its just that the biggest fault is that you, as the driver has absolutely no feedback on when the grip was going to run out. At the limit of the front end grip you could get the idea that the tyres was rolling over onto its shoulder but this was more down to the amount of body roll rather than the textured information that was not coming back through the steering wheel.

The balance of the chassis was good, maybe not in the most purest sense of the word, you wont find yourself saying “it was a forth gear bend which dropped and opened on exit with just enough visibility to let you get on the power hard and early enough to turn the whole chassis is not a beautifully controlled four wheel drift, no, you certainly won’t find yourself saying that to your next door neighbour but there is a good balance to be found it just happens to be constructed on an ad hoc basis by the stability controls. Don’t get me wrong the stability control does take a massive amount of connectivity away from the driver and the road but the effect is not completely unpleasing and it is something which is different enough from the norm to be entertaining. Electronic stability controls are all over the place now so the effect is not as unusual as it was when we drove the 307 but the effect still sticks in the mind. You could drive the car like a normal person or indeed drive the car like a normal car but you would be missing out on experiencing mans latest technological developments in the field of automotive technology. Drive into a corner at a speed which you know is a least 10 percent faster than is strictly sensible and stay committed. Brake by all means but don’t tense so much that you don’t feel the electronics working the car’s chassis. There is something about feeling individual calipers operating individual wheels without any input from you the driver that takes the act of driving to some other place. A different place from where it is just you and the road, now you have any extra element under your control, you have a car that wants to turn into the corner just as much as you do. Your car now has the personality of the driver. You turn the wheel 20degress and by god whether the laws of physics allow it or not your 307 is going to do its level bloody best to make your dreams a reality now matter hoe bloody ridiculous they are.

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How does it feel when the calipers get involved? Well like I said its not unpleasant but one thing it definitely is not and that is fast. Okay the car has turned into the corner it had no right to at the speed you were asking but the down side is that some much braking has gone on to get the car turned and slowed that you are now doing at least 73moph slower on exit that you would have been in a non DSC car. The best way to describe it is riding Oblivion at Alton Towers but with added danger. You find the adrenalin junkie part of your brain is constantly goading your normal driving part of the brain to drive faster and faster into corners and literally daring the DSC not to sort out the ensuing mess. It really is a whole different feeling of driving. You are no longer 100% in control of what is happening, as long as you don’t completely loose your bottle and forget to steer the car in the direction you want to go the DSC will continually surprise you with the messes it can sort out for you. It can be argued that it is much much more exciting to find out where the limit of the DSC is than your own limits. I never approached the limit of the DSC in the whole week we had the 307 but what I can say is that the calipers where visually smoking on more than one occasion while they struggled to recover from the abuse they were being given. And to be fair, even though there was visible smoke and you could smell the burning they kept working

On motorways and on a roads the 307 was generally a nice place to be. I imagine if you were simply looking for a car to take you from a to b in a high level of comfort and you weren’t going to do a lot of major motorway miles the 307 would be a fantastic proposition. If we had any gripe it would be the stereo but then again very few cars have a tolerable stereo from the factory, this is easily sorted.

This page was last modified Apr 12, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

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