Another Car

Posted on May 27th, 2008 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Bought a car the other day.

Regular readers will know of my pictured Peugeot 405 diesel turbo, a car that I have discussed in AutoSpeed and which has been modified in an effective – but very cheap – way.

In the short time that I have owned it, the 405 has proved to be a very good car – extremely comfortable, competent handling, excellent ride, and very economical. With the boost, intake, exhaust and fuelling mods, driveability improved dramatically. For example, the time to go from 80 – 100 km/h in 4th gear was halved. It was this sort of change, rather than a massive increase in peak power, that made the car so much nicer on the road.

In fact, the 405 has been doing everything that we’ve been asking of it – and turning in fuel economy figures of 5.5 – 6.9 litres/100km.

So why the change of car? The greatest problem with the 405 is its old diesel injection system. It’s a purely mechanical system that controls fuel and turbo boost and fuel injection timing. That makes it simple to tune – all you need is a screwdriver and spanner – but it also considerably limits the modifications that can be made.

In these times where electronic fuel injection systems are largely an open and shut case, not being able to apply any electronics to the modification process is very limiting.

The lack of electronics in the 405 also reduces the broad application of the diesel modification stories that I do in AutoSpeed.

So, time for another car.

As I’ve said previously, I think that petrol engine cars are now fairly passé, and that the coming automotive world belongs to hybrids and diesels. I’ve already got a hybrid Honda Insight, so the replacement for the 405 was always going to be another diesel, but this time one with electronic management.

Here in Australia, older diesel cars are rare; it’s only in the last few years that the market for diesels has started to take off. Therefore, there’s only a very limited number of secondhand diesels to pick from – Peugeot 306 HDi (almost never seen), Peugeot 307 HDi, Golf TDi, Polo TDi – and, well, very little else! A few Japanese market grey imports around the edges, but in terms of cheap electronic injected diesels, that’s about it.

To cut the story short, I selected a Pug 307 HDi. In addition to the common rail direct injected engine, the 307s also come with six airbags and have good crash testing results. They’re also the cheapest of the electronically injected diesels, costing from around AUD$16,000. (As I found with the 405, diesels really do hold their value very well.)

The earliest 307 diesels come with a non-intercooled, non variable geometry 2-litre, 8-valve engine developing only 66kW and 205Nm. (Later cars have variable geometry turbos, intercooling, 16 valves – and 100kW and 320Nm.) However, while the lower power looks like a major shortcoming, fitting an intercooler and pumping up the boost should be straightforward.

I tested one of these cars back in 2003 (see here) and was largely impressed, especially with the fuel economy, which in a week of Sydney driving, showed a poorest result of 6.2 litres/100km.

As you’d expect, the later, more powerful cars cost a lot more, so when I found an early 307 HDi with 110,000 kilometres, dealer servicing and in excellent condition, I bought it.

On the 200 kilometre flat freeway drive home at 100 and 110 km/h, it turned-in an indicated 5.0 litres/100km….

13 Responses to 'Another Car'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. BG said,

    on May 27th, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Selling a Peugeot to buy a Peugeot? Sounds like someone’s found a favourite car maker to us. lol

  2. Julian Edgar said,

    on May 27th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Very much not the case. If the VW Golf diesel had been the same price, I would have bought that. In fact, as I wrote in the tests of the Pug when new, the car has plenty of faults, some of which got worse in the 407.

  3. Gordon Drennan said,

    on May 27th, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Its not that he’s got a thing about Peugeots. Its that the only diesels that are cheap are cars that started off cheap, or are French. Which pretty much matches my experience of French-made cars.

  4. Scott said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Que the Hyundai i30 in a few years.

  5. Michael Daly said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 9:19 am

    A bitl off topic to some extent but in looking at petrol alternatives I’ve read that NZ has a developing base of compressed natural gas cars. Seems to me that’s a direction Australia should be heading in. Imagine if you could get an efficient CNG engine and a domestic (safe) compressor setup. Suddenly the whole fuel infrastructure is radically re-distributed using an an abundant, inexpensive, lower polluting fuel. Do you think we could get some of our NZ readers to input on this?

  6. Blair said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Julian, You didn’t consider the 406, a car that you had previously been very complementary of?
    It is also lighter than the 307 off the top of my head

  7. Darren Roles said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I’m wary of European cars in Oz, purely from the point of the monopoly that the dealers seem to have on the spares system.
    We recently got rid of our VW 16V Polo (Petrol) because the costs for parts & servicing were outrageous. Oil and filter (air, oil & pollen) service was never less than $428.
    Apparently the Polo’s are renown for 2 or 3 particular major failings also: indicator switch gear – $1000+ due to airbag relations, cracked pedal boxes on the manuals – $1200+ to replace and the idle/aircon system which compensates for the power loss when turning on the aircon. I don’t know how it works I just know that when it fails the car stalls when the aircon cuts in – $1400+ to replace or $120 to ‘patch it up’. The passenger side electric window regulator was $580 to replace. The regulator was done by the dealer (Solitaires in Adelaide) and the other stuff quoted through AVW in Adelaide. I didn’t see the dealer for the other quotes as after the regulator shock I started going to AVW; I can recommend them as being much better than the dealer…

    I also noticed that when you put the aircon on flat out that the vents directed more air to the passenger side than to the drivers’ side? I assume this is a legacy of a factory RHD conversion and they didn’t bother to change the ducting behind the dash?
    Julian, I’d be interested to see if this is common on other Euro cars that have been primarily developed for a LHD market then ‘factory’ converted to RHD.
    In general Euro cars seem to be pretty good, it’s just the maintenance costs associated with less market share. IMO the sooner the ‘domestic’ companies bring out diesel options the better. Then again with the current Euro diesel sales surge, they may be marginalised anyway?

  8. Julian Edgar said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Blair, 307 appears to have better crash results than 406. Also has more airbags as standard.

  9. Richard said,

    on May 28th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    How does the future of diesel (in Australia) look with the rapid rise of the price of diesel? Even faster than the rise in ULP prices. One report has the payback on buying a new diesel car (over the petrol equivalent) has blown out to the range of 8-15yrs! Who keeps a car that long?

  10. Mitchell said,

    on May 29th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Do you have any articles on the Japanese grey import diesels i.e. Corolla diesel? I am intrigued as to how they’d stack up and seem like a unique alternative.

  11. Julian Edgar said,

    on May 29th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    We haven’t covered Corolla diesel but it’s a non turbo and from people I have talked to, dreadfully slow. I don’t know its fuel economy figures.

  12. Mauricio said,

    on July 7th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    FYI, I have a 1975 Mercedes 300D in which I put the drivetrain off a 1983 300SD (turbodiesel). Now, I have the fuel pump off an Audi 5000 turbodiesel and want to put it in the car to see if it gives me more potential to up the boost. Next step is the pump I have off an older Mercedes Sprint delivery van, which is 5 cylinder TDI.

    Anyway, my point is that just because the car is a diesel does not mean you cannot do all those changes you do in a petrol car.

  13. Mel said,

    on October 12th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Toyota in NZ has recently released Corollas with 1.4 (5.0l/100km)and 2.0 (5.4l/100km) turbo diesel engines. The 1.4 comes with a 5-speed manual, the 2.0 a 6-speed manual. Any word on when they will be available here in Oz? Toyota Australia say they “don’t have any information on future releases”. If I lived in NZ or the UK I could buy a new diesel Corolla. Why is Australia lagging so far behind?