What an absolutely crap car

Posted on November 13th, 2008 in AutoSpeed,Opinion,Peugeot,Reviews by Julian Edgar

Look, I’ve tried to like it. I’ve admired its quite brilliant fuel economy, and its generally excellent ride/handling compromise. I mean, I was even very positive in the new car test I did on the car when it was first released back in 2003.


And when this family bought one with our own money, it was with the (stated) intention of making it an AutoSpeed project car, in much the same way that we did with the Peugeot 405 SRDT.



But I need to be honest. I just simply hate the Peugeot 307 HDi – I think it’s a car that in many ways is just rubbish.


Now normally to support such a statement you’d have an extensive list of shortcomings in its driving performance. But in fact, the Peugeot largely drives very well.


One clear negative is its dreadful low rpm management mapping and/or turbo sizing: this is one of the deadest off-boost turbo electronic direct injected diesels you can drive, especially in hot weather.


(I just checked the date of my original new car test – published November so probably tested about September. Just on the edges of the Australian summer – but not into it.)


But otherwise, the steering is largely OK (well, it kicks back when driving really hard); the ride is good; the handling is adequate and the brakes fine.

Boiling the Frog*

Posted on June 26th, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,Opinion,Peugeot by Julian Edgar

One of the difficulties in assessing change in vehicles over a procession of models is getting past the obfuscation that normally accompanies car publicity. Both in advertising and PR material, every model is always billed as being vastly better than the preceding model.

Of course, in many ways newer models or versions often are better – but in other ways sometimes they are not.

One example of this is the weight of cars: as we all know, cars of today are much heavier than the cars of yesterday. However that’s a process that has been largely unremarked upon as it has been occurring. The upshot is we only now say: “Hell! Look at how heavy new cars have become!”

But this insidious change occurs in other design aspects as well.

I Hate Car Maintenance

Posted on May 5th, 2008 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Peugeot by Julian Edgar

I love modifying cars but I hate doing car maintenance. Even something as simple as an oil change I despise: I sure wouldn’t last long working as a mechanic.

But every now and again I need to do what I hate: maintenance.

In the most recent case it was a noise that developed in the engine bay of my Peugeot 405 diesel. It started, I thought, after I repaired a leak in the plastic power steering fluid reservoir. The fluid level had been dropping and then I noticed a crack near the outlet pipe. I took a punt and used a soldering iron and filler rod (cable ties!) to plastic weld the crack closed – the repair worked perfectly.

With new fluid in the reservoir, everything seemed fine.

But then a whine started up in the engine bay. Initially it was just audible, but it got louder and louder. It varied with engine revs, being just able to be heard at idle but being very loud indeed at 3-4000 rpm.

Trailers that drink fuel

Posted on January 22nd, 2008 in Driving Emotion,Economy,Peugeot by Julian Edgar

pug-and-trailer.jpgMost cars that I have owned have had tow-bars – if they’re not on the car when I buy them, I have them fitted.

So the EF Falcon and Lexus LS400 both had towbars. And, as you’d expect with those cars’ mass and power, both towed very well. On one occasion the Lexus towed a camper trailer, and it very often towed my 6×4 steel trailer. The Falcon towed the 6×4 and once a car-carrying trailer (loaded with a large work bench frame).

So when both of those cars had gone to new owners and I bought the Peugeot 405 diesel, I was pleased to see it had a towbar.

I didn’t – and don’t – expect to be towing big trailers; instead, my 6×4 will be the one usually hung on the back. Trips to the local tip, trips to pick up furniture, carrying around recumbent trikes – things like that.

But as a tow-car, the low-powered and light Peugeot is a very different kettle of fish to the Lexus and Falcon. For starters, the lack of ultra-low rpm torque (when the 1.9 litre diesel is yet to come on boost) makes it very hard to climb my very steep driveway with the trailer on the back. In fact, to do this, I need to thoroughly warm the engine and launch with a lunge at the slope. 

Once on boost, the mass of the trailer doesn’t cause much of a problem; performance is clearly down but with decent driving, it’s no drama.

But one aspect of the Peugeot as a tow car amazes me. And what’s that?

The fuel consumption!

The presence of the trailer makes a radical difference to have much diesel the Pug drinks. Even with the trailer empty, consumption is up by 20 – 30 per cent. One reason for this is that the trailer adds about 25 per cent to the mass; another reason is that the trailer is much less hidden in the aerodynamic wake of the smaller car.

Clearly the idea that towing a trailer increases fuel consumption is not something new.

However, as more people drive cars like hybrids (incidentally, no Prius is factory certified for a tow bar) and smaller engine diesels, trailers designed with more than utilitarian cheapness may become attractive. A smaller, light-weight and aero-shaped trailer would, I’m sure, make far less difference to the Peugeot’s towing fuel consumption…