Our Down-under correspondent John Weinthal came through with
the latest from Peugeot. Here are the Words from Weinthal.
“France’s Peugeot is one of the world’s older car
makes. It became a household name here when a round-backed 203 won the first
Redex Around Australia in the 1950s.
“Over the next 30 years the 203 and later models built
substantial reputations as cars which were more than tough enough for outback
Australia while setting high sedan standards for handling, ride comfort and
“The latest Peugeot to come here is the Camry-sized 407.
This 407 has some of the most distinctive styling of any sedan or wagon around
with a Ferrari-like mouth and long nose - to my eye it is extraordinarily
attractive, though not all agreed.
“Even more distinctive than the sedan is the panoramic
glass-roofed 407 Touring, or station wagon. Both the sedan and wagon are offered
with a 116 kW 2.2 litre four-cylinder engine, a 2 litre 100 kW diesel and a 155
“We drove the V6 sedan with a six-speed automatic
transmission which includes a tiptronic function for greater driver control, and
an adaptive program which - in theory at least - means that the car anticipates
your driving mood and adjusts change gear points accordingly.
“The 407 range starts at $A 42,800 for a 6-speed manual ST
sedan rising to $A 59,000 for the V6 six-speed auto wagon with all the toys most
could wish for. They are exceptionally well-equipped and notable for their
plethora of safety equipment starting with eight airbags across the range.
“There’s ABS anti-lock braking with brake assist, an
electronic stability program and most effective and smooth operating traction
control - as one would hope in a near 1.5 tonne 155 kW front-wheel-drive family
“There are parking sensors and automatic xenon headlamps
with washers. Rain-sensing wipers turn on automatically and adjust wiper speed
according to the prevailing precipitation.
“The fully leather clad deeply padded seats accommodate
five people with more than adequate head, leg and shoulder room. The steering
wheel adjusts for rake and reach and the front seats are power adjustable.
“That’s the good news - distinctive to look at, loaded
with safety and comfort items and with a strong heritage, but the 407 competes
in an arena crowded with worthy opponents. There’s the supremely competent
supercharged Mercedes C class, Nissan’s excellent new Maxima (Teana in
Thailand) and Honda’s Accord not to mention the appealing Citroen C5 which
comes from the same stable as the Peugeot and is also available with a diesel
and a V6.
“The Peugeot has a few annoying features. The six-stacker
CD holder is in the boot. The audio and climate-control buttons are small and
confusingly arrayed meaning one’s eyes leave the road for any adjustments. The
air-con, as on a number of European cars, only just coped with our recent hot
weather and was no match for any Holden Commodore or Australian Ford Falcon or
even the most basic Korean and Japanese offerings in the speed of cooling.
“On road the 407 offers a soothing ride without setting any
new standards in the areas of handling, communication with the road or isolation
from road noise. Performance from the V6 is more than adequate but far from
sporting. I am sure the four cylinder petrol engined 407 would struggle
“Basically this is a good car with stand-out styling and an
extensive equipment list. The wagon is a real standout from the crowd load
hauler. However, after a week which included a number of electrical component
glitches which were no doubt specific to the test car, but something of a worry
nonetheless I had to conclude that it is fighting above its weight when the
opposition includes Maxima, Accord, C Class Merc and the Citroen C5.”
(Thank you John, for your usual no holds barred approach. Dr.
Hyundai might be in trouble in some countries, but not in
China. Automotive News in its China Conference reported on Hyundai’s expansion
into the Chinese market, a marketplace that you ignore at your peril, if you are
a motor manufacturer.
According to Automotive News, three years ago, Hyundai formed
a joint venture with the Beijing Automotive Industry Group. And now that venture
- Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. - plans to sell more than 500,000 vehicles annually
in China by 2008. That figure is just short of Thailand’s total production
last year from all automakers here.
Given the size of the Chinese market, any carmaker that is
not a significant player in China will slip down the global rankings of top
automakers, Automotive News reports. It is the job of Beijing Hyundai President
J.M. Noh to make sure that doesn’t happen to Hyundai.
“We want to enter the ranks of the world’s top five automakers,” Noh
said in a 2003 interview. “We know we can’t get there without increasing our
Chinese market share.” With the sheer size of the Chinese market, you don’t
have to be a rocket scientist to see that Mr. Noh is right!