807 fits everything but the kitchen sink; Peugeot's winner combines the space of the roomiest MPV with the roadhandling of a family saloon.
THE need for six people to travel with luggage unsurprisingly made my thoughts turn to an MPV.
It would have to be a fullsized one with plenty of flexibility to accommodate everything and everyone, so Peugeot's new 807 sprang to mind - and proved to be a sensible choice. The 807 has seats for seven people in a two, three, two configuration - although the vehicle can be ordered with a rear bench seat to accommodate eight passengers at no extra cost.
Despite its size the luggage area is not massive, but because of the sensible layout, by folding forward one of the two third row seats we then had an L-shaped section which easily accommodated six hefty bags as well as hand luggage.
The 807 comes in three trim levels, but my middle of the range SE version had all the features most people would desire for a comfortable long journey.
Getting in and out is made easy for passengers thanks to two sliding side doors, both of which are electrically operated.
You can do this from inside the vehicle itself or from the key fob, a useful feature when you return to it with your arms full of parcels.
And it can be quite funny to activate the side doors from some distance away and watch the faces of passers-by as they open, when there is apparently no-one around to trigger them.
As a useful safety feature you can also set all the doors to lock automatically as you drive off.
Inside the 807 there are a host of small nooks and crannies for storing things, including a sliding storage box under the front passenger seat.
There was a time when driving an MPV felt more like driving a commercial vehicle than a car.
With the 807, however, you have to keep turning around to convince yourself that you are not at the wheel of a normal family saloon or hatchback, its mannerisms are so car-like.
But that's as it should be. Just because a family needs a vehicle with extra space doesn't mean they don't want a vehicle that is enjoyable to drive.
And with the 2.2 HDI engine under its bonnet the 807 is fun to drive. This gutsy 130bhp engine makes it spirited and very responsive.
Large it may be, a slouch when it comes to acceleration it most definitely is not.
The performance is due to a combination of an excellent power unit and the fact that the 807 is lighter than you would expect, thanks to the roof being made of aluminium and the tailgate, front and rear wings being made from a composite material. This is also reflected in the average fuel consumption of more than 38 mpg.
From the driving seat the all round vision over the tops of other cars is excellent thanks partly to the extra height and partly to the panoramic windscreen.
A dashboard mounted gear lever - with a six speed box - gives you more floor space and although it feels a little strange at first you soon warm to it.
Externally the 807 has the family face of Peugeot, with stunning headlights shaped like the eyes of supermodel Naomi Campbell.
My test car came with a number of appealing extras, including three sunroofs for pounds 990, dark privacy glass on the rear side windows and a colour satellite navigation system at pounds 1,350.
Unlike on many MPVs all three sunroofs had a tilt and slide feature on them, which is great when you don't want to use the climate control, which incidentally comes with a separate rear airflow so you can keep the rear seat travellers as happy as those in the front.
Other standard fit features on the SE include a Thatcham Class 1 alarm system, aircraft style tables on the backs of the front seats, integral side blinds for row two and three and 180 degree swivelling front seats.
All in all the 807 is a very comprehensively equipped, enjoyable vehicle to drive - and just happens to have the bonus of being able to accommodate a lot of people and a sensible amount of luggage.
Peugeot 807 SE 2.2 HDI
Price: pounds 23,655
Mechanical: 130bhp, 2,179cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox.
Max speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 12.6 secs
Combined mpg: 38.6
Insurance group: 11A
CO2 emissions: 195g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles' 12yrs paint' 12yrs anti-rust
REMEMBER the 8-track cartridge machine and the cassette player? Well the end of the road could now be in sight for the in-car CD player too. Ford and General Motors are the world's two biggest car companies to ditch them in favour of I-Pod-compatible sound systems. Drivers simply hook up their I-Pod or MP3 player to a lead in the glove box
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|Publication:||Birmingham Mail (England)|
|Date:||Aug 25, 2006|
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