Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 71%

Peugeot had its work cut out replacing the 306, which was as good to look at as it was to drive. Unfortunately the 307 proved to be a backwards step both aesthetically and (to a degree) dynamically, but it was a big leap forward in terms of safety, packaging and equipment. Now the 307 has also been superseded by the 308, the model still has much to offer – as long as you can find a good one, which might not be as easy as it sounds.

1: Looks 6/10

Even the unitiated would have no trouble spotting the Peugeot corporate nose on the 307, with those sleek headlamps that stretch part-way up the bonnet. It’s clearly a design that’s fundamentally right too, as Peugeot stuck with it when the 307 was superseded by the 308 in 2007. Despite this, there’s nothing cute about the 307’s lines; this isn’t a car that carries the timeless appeal of earlier Peugeots such as the 306.

2: Looks inside 6/10

Despite the relatively high cost of the 307 when it was new, its interior isn’t anything particularly special. It’s spacious enough and well equipped, and it isn’t badly put together, but some of the materials used feel low-rent in places.

That equipment list goes some way to compensating for this though, as there are plenty of toys to distract your attention from the rather plain design.

3: Practicality 8/10

The standard five-door hatch, as tested here, offers a reasonable degree of practicality, as you’d expect from any car with this configuration. The boot can stow 341 litres with the rear seats in place, and if you fold them down there’s a useful 1328 litres available. Leg room is at a premium if you’ve got six-footers in the front, but there’s no shortage of headroom thanks to the car’s raised roof line.

If it’s ultimate practicality you’re after, you’ll be wanting a 307 SW, which is a seven-seat estate with a glass roof; this isn’t to be confused with the standard 307 estate though, with five seats and a steel roof. Bear in mind though that not all SWs came equipped with seven seats (the rearmost pair are removable), so don’t assume that any car you buy will come with more than five chairs. It’s not just about carrying people though; remove all the seats and there’s a 2082-litre load bay, which is bigger than most estate cars one or two classes up.

4: Ride and Handling 8/10

Peugeot is incapable of producing a car that isn’t comfortable; French buyers demand a cossetting ride and Peugeot doesn’t go overboard in retuning its cars for the UK market. As a result, the 307 rides brilliantly and the handling is pretty good too. If comfort is your priority, the 307 is one of the best in its class; if handling is more important it’s the Ford Focus that deserves your attention.

5:  Performance 9/10

With power outputs of anywhere between 90 and 180bhp, there’s a 307 for most people – especially as even the smallest engine, the 1.4-litre petrol unit, can manage 107mph. Acceleration is a tad leisurely though with 0-60mph taking a yawning 12.8 seconds, which is why you’re better off buying at least a 1.6-litre engine if you must have petrol. This slightly larger powerplant can achieve 118mph and 0-60mph in 11 seconds.

It’s the diesel engines that really shine though; Peugeot has long been a producer of great oil-burners and the units fitted to the 307 are no exception. The 1.4HDi is really only for those who must have ultimate economy, while the 2.0HDi has more poke than you really need; there’s 136bhp on tap, along with 240lb ft of torque.

That’s why you’re better off going for the middle ground, as tested here. The 1.6HDi can offer 110bhp (there’s a 90bhp edition too) to give 117mph and 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds, thanks to its 180lb ft of torque – figures which are ample for the cut and thrust of everyday motoring.

6: Running costs 8/10

Peugeot’s mass-market reputation and heavy discounting of new cars does nothing for its residuals, and as a result you can pick up a used 307 for relatively little, which helps slash the running costs.

Servicing also shouldn’t be costly, as petrol 307s need attention every 20,000 miles or two years while all diesels need a service every two years or 12,000 miles (20,000 miles for 2.0-litre and post-December 2005 1.4 editions).

Apart from the 2.0 petrol cars, any 307 should comfortably achieve 40mpg on a run, with the diesels all getting well over 50mpg unless thrashed. Insurance is also affordable, as most 307s sits in low insurance groups – it’s only the sporty or open-topped editions that are above group 10.

7: Reliability 3/10

As well as a raft of recalls, the 307 has been subject to all sorts of reliability issues, so you need to look very carefully before buying one. Some 307s can suffer from the engine cutting out and/or all electrical power being lost, while trip computers fail, along with service indicators.

Starting problems are endemic, brake pedals snap off and the steering column stalks can stop working. The interior trim is also poor, with split seats, rattles and squeaks very common – and as if this isn’t enough, screen surrounds can leak and the glass can crack.

An ECU problem with HDi engines causes flat spots and hesitation, carpets come adrift, as do the door rubbing strips and the odometer can over-read; the cure is a software update. Finally, clutch judder can develop on 2001/2002 diesels, with clutch failure also common.

8: Safety 8/10

Peugeot has focused on safety for quite a while now, and the 307 is a good example of how the company has made this a priority. The Euro-NCAP score of four stars suggests that the structure will do a good job of looking after you in an impact, and things are helped further with the fitment of six airbags as standard on all editions.

There are also pre-tensioners for all seats except the centre one in the rear, three-point belts for all five seats plus active head restraints for those sitting in the front. To top things off, all 307s also get electronic brake force distribution, while ESP is available at least as an extra-cost option on all versions too – some have it as standard.

9: Equipment 9/10

This is another area in which Peugeot traditionally does well, and that’s certainly the case here. Only the most basic cars come without alloy wheels or air conditioning, while all 307s get remote central locking, electric windows in the front, a CD player and a split folding rear seat.

You don’t have to spend much to get climate control, all-round electric windows or cruise control thrown in, while you can even specify leather trim on some of the poshest editions. However, no 307s have a sunroof as standard, although the 307CC’s roof is retractable of course, while the 307SW gets a glass roof as standard.

10: X-Factor 6/10

In theory the 307 is a true cracker of a car, as it won the Car of the Year award in 2002 – but history has shown that it’s not always the best cars which win this title. However, while reliability can be a major issue for 307 owners, the car has much to offer, with a wide range of bodystyles, engines and trim levels. Most 307s are also pretty well equipped, practical and comfortable too – just check any car very carefully before buying.

Key facts

Model tested: Peugeot 307 1.6HDi 110 SE
On the road price: £15,800
Price range: £11,300-£21,100
Date tested: March 2009
Road tester: Richard Dredge