Well designed, handsome, and packed with comfort and convenience goodies
A motoring journalist should always be objective. A car should fulfil its design brief superbly, be built solidly, and sold at a reasonable price for its role. If it does all that, it should get the automotive equivalent of the Heart Foundation tick.
But as I was reminded by my Peugeot 407 SW drive, that's not all that's required. You might buy a car based purely on how well it does the job, but many others place as much importance on passion and emotion.
Such folk will rarely buy a Toyota. Or this Peugeot...
I have never warmed to this wagon. It's well designed, handsome - if you like a sweeping Gallic nose - and packed with comfort and convenience goodies. It does the job it's designed to do reasonably well, and even suits the Kiwi lifestyle, as I discovered with a predecessor of this car.
I dispatched round-town errands, carried passengers, took in a 1200km weekend trip and even loaded the boot with firewood. It did it all, and yet I still couldn't love it.
So I was curious to see if this facelift would make any difference.
Beneath the bonnet there's still the 150kW/440Nm 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine shared with Jaguar, with a clever particle filter that incinerates the bad bits as you drive.
The same underpinnings deliver a comfy, well-controlled ride which will suit families seeking unfussy A-to-B motoring, and cope reasonably well with the demands of a keen driver, though the car's not as responsive as this keen driver would like.
The body features the now familiar, sleek lines embellished by a few almost invisible changes.
There's a new front chrome grille, with body-coloured side mouldings - and new taillights.
The cabin gets a different colour - as sober as the previous one - some extra dashes of chrome and renewed trim. The rear door handles are now plastic, and the front and rear park aids are standard - fortunately, given the less-than-perfect rear three-quarter view - and there's a new and very easy-to use cruise control and speed limiter.
I drove this car around for a very busy week. It never put a foot wrong. The luggage net held smaller bags in place, it was effortlessly comfortable, and the fingertip-activated cruise control kept me legal when the diesel V6 threatened to creep into naughty territory.
That engine's torque peaks at 1900rpm so it effortlessly punted me along my hilly commute, in six-speed auto for the handling doesn't reward manual-change shenanigans.
Throughout, the 407 SW fulfilled its smart, refined, family wagon task - though it could use a larger boot, and the engine's becoming outdated. More recent diesels offer similar grunt from smaller capacity more smoothly and frugally.
The 407SW now retails at $72,990. BMW's 320d costs a tad more, delivers a touch less power but more boot space, and feels and handles like a true driver's car (that can double as the family runabout). I'd pay the extra, or drop to VW's admittedly less stylish but roomier - and more affordable - diesel Passat wagon.
See new and used Peugeot 407 for sale here.