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Motor Max: A SAFE CHOICE; Peugeot's 807 follows in a long tradition of `family classics'.

Byline: MIKE TORPEY

IT looked the epitome of civilised motoring. Along a narrow track cleared through the melting snow came the first of Peugeot's ``family classics'' making relentless progress towards its maximum speed of 18mph.

A klaxon horn sounded and the two candle lamps at the front shone like bug eyes as this magnificent veteran car inched into view.

Only 87 examples of of the stately Type 9 were built by the French manufacturer, and as a veteran of countless rallies it remains as good today as when it was built in 1895.

Friday, February 14, 2003 MOTORMAX Page This was the senior member of the family, one which also featured such classics as the robust 404 of the 1960s and 504 Familliale - forerunners of the current crop of Peugeot models, and their latest offering the 807.

People carriers - or MPVs as they are now commonly known - are hardly what you could call a new phenomenon.

But the French manufacturer claims to have re-invented the genre courtesy of the 807.

This full-blown people shifter is built on the same platform as the Citroen C8 and Fiat Ulysse, also new arrivals to the scene along with Renault's much-vaunted and revamped Espace.

While Citroen attempts to woo buyers via its tried and trusted ploy of lopping money off the price - in this case by a whopping pounds 2,000 from its base level C8 version - Peugeot prefers to offer zero per cent finance over four years, something it believes will ultimately protect rather than harm residual values.

Mindful of the challenge from rival manufacturers, Peugeot set out to ensure the 807 would provide the highest safety levels with systems that had never before been seen in an MPV.

So the entire range starting from the C8 2.0 litre LX at pounds 18,295 includes curtain airbags for six people as well as advanced braking systems and a three-point belt on every seat. There's even a retractable `child check' mirror in the front for keeping an eye can on those in the second and third rows.

Entry level models are available with either 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines, or the excellent 2.2litre HDi diesel, available only on higher spec models starting at pounds 22,495.

This is the engine to go for. It develops 130bhp and while it feels lusty too, you should be able to achieve a fuel consumption figure of around 38 miles per gallon.

Basic models come with seven seats while the luxury Executive SE trim versions feature six captain's chairs. Eight people can be accommodated if a bench seat is fitted at the rear.

Buyers of flagship models also have the option of a seven-inch colour screen which drops from the roof and allows rear passengers to watch DVDs on the move, listening through headphones.

As for driving, the 807 remains more car than van-like but it is a big brute and is not especially agile. There's a high driving position, though, and good visibility.

Peugeot also used the 807 launch to introduce the new Escapade model of the Partner Combi range.

First seen at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, the Partner occupies the rapidly-expanding budget leisure segment of the industry.

These may not be the most eyecatching of vehicles but the Escapade looks a potential moneyspinner. Costing pounds 10,295 for the lively 1.6 litre petrol version - there's also a 2.0 HDi diesel at pounds 11,095 - this version achieves an adventurer look thanks to its raised suspension, extended wheel arches, 15-inch wheels and bodycoloured front bumper, headlamp grilles and front foglamps.

The Combi range starts at pounds 9,495 for the 75bhp 1.4 litre model and includes a CD player, electric front windows, power steering, remote central locking and electric/heated door mirrors.

CAPTION(S):

BIG BRUTE: Mindful of the challenge from rivals,Peugeot set out to ensure the 807 would provide the highest safety levels with systems never before been seen in an MPV; CARRY MORE: The Peugeot Escapade really scores (inset) on its huge load-carrying capacity
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Feb 14, 2003
Words:677
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