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IT'S NOT ALL VA-VA-GLOOM; Powerful MPV restores French pride.

Byline: BY TONY LARNER

PEUGEOT looked to have lost some of its va-va-voom after a recent survey of British motorists gave it a huge thumbs down.

Drivers of 159 different vehicles were questioned about customer satisfaction and 11 of the bottom 20 models came from the French firm.

The poor old 807 came last in the damaging poll, while Peugeot was voted worst out of 36 motor manufacturers!

Ooh, la, la!

Yet hold on. Are things really that bad?

Well, in a word - Non!

I drove the 807 2.2-litre HDi diesel for a week and, while it may not be my first choice of MPV, it would certainly not be my last.

This is a huge motor which has five doors - including two glider/sliders -and offers seven seats (which can be folded/slid/removed to suit your needs).

It was so big that I was actually called in to run a few unpaid taxi trips over the holidays for my family.

At one point I managed to fit in myself, the wife, two sisters, two nieces and a nephew - plus a shed-load of beer in the expansive boot.

Even with such a heavy load, the 807 remained impressively powerful and nippy when needed.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine allows the people carrier to achieve 0-62mph in a pretty good 12.6 seconds, while it has a top speed of 112mph.

And, whatever the results of the trade magazine survey, I found the driving pretty enjoyable and very comfortable.

The high seating position and large windows afford you great vision and the excellent suspension provides a smooth ride.

Probably most impressive for me was the excellent fuel economy.

The 807 offers a very welcome 3 8mpg and the 80-litre fuel tank is a real bonus for those long journeys.

Other nice little touches included the wing mirrors automatically folding in when you lock up, while there is storage space aplenty in the obviously roomy cabin.

The specification on my Executive trim included smart 16ins alloy wheels, cruise and climate control, rain-sensor wipers and heated front seats.

I've had a couple of minor scares taking roundabouts with larger MPVs in the past, but not so with the 807 which is fitted with anti-lock brakes and traction control.

If you were to hit trouble, then driver and front passenger are protected by airbags and front side airbags. There are also curtain airbags for the three rows of seats.

Although it has not publicly commented on the damaging survey, Peugeot has already brought in some minor improvements to the 607 and 807 range to secure a better 2006.

These tweaks include introducing an improved CD sound system and reworking the rear seats to make it easier to remove them.

All good news for car dealers who hope the British public will be saying "Vive la France" again before too long.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot 807 Executive 2.2 HDI

Price: pounds 24,205

Mechanical: 130bhp, 2,179cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 112mph 0-62mph: 12.6 secs

Combined mpg: 38.7

Insurance group: 12

CO2 emissions: 195g/km

BiK rating: 29 per cent

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles' 12yrs paint' 12yrs anti-rust

CAPTION(S):

IMPRESSIVE the Peugeot 807 offers a comfortable ride but has the capacity to cope with large loads
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Words:555
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