Motoring: A Sitting Duck-Billed Platypus ; Not since the Ford Edsel Has a Car Had a Face This Disturbing, Says Michael Booth. and, Horrifyingly, Things Don't Get Any Better Inside

By Booth, Michael | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), July 18, 2004 | Go to article overview
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Motoring: A Sitting Duck-Billed Platypus ; Not since the Ford Edsel Has a Car Had a Face This Disturbing, Says Michael Booth. and, Horrifyingly, Things Don't Get Any Better Inside


Booth, Michael, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


Having moaned last week about the new Audi A6's aggressive face it seems churlish to criticise Peugeot for trying something different, but not since the Edsel has a car had a face this disturbing. What is Peugeot aiming for? A wolfish grin? A deranged clown's leer? A basking shark trawling for krill? Mothers hurriedly gathered their children in off their front step as I drove down my street in one the other morning. Milk curdled in the bottles. Flowers wilted in window boxes.

There is no angle from which this car looks good. Front-on, you fear for your life; side-on, the preposterous front overhang is revealed in all its glory; from the rear three-quarters position, it just looks unhappy; and the rear could be any repmobile from a Vectra to a Mondeo. And looks count, even when you are selling cars to stationery salesmen. Remember when the Ford Sierra was launched? Wives were rejecting them out of hand in the showrooms before their husbands had even taken a test drive (this was the early 1980s, I hasten to add; these days my wife does all our test driving while I just fiddle with the stereo). Already Peugeot dealers are reporting a similar reaction to the 407.

Quick, let's get in so we don't have to look at it any more! This isn't so bad. The seats are wonderfully firm and supportive, which is a first for a French car. (I drive a Citroen and my chiropractor is contemplating early retirement he has done so well out of it.) That outsized, MPV-style sloping windscreen creates a spacious, airy feel. The dash is a stylish two-tone tan and black, and there is an impressive air of quality.

That's where the positive experience ends, however. Usually I try to put as many miles as I can on a car while it is in my custody (although, secretly, I make my mind up after just a few). With the 407 it took about three miles to realise that, though it has a great chassis and unusually agile suspension, I hate the thing.

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Motoring: A Sitting Duck-Billed Platypus ; Not since the Ford Edsel Has a Car Had a Face This Disturbing, Says Michael Booth. and, Horrifyingly, Things Don't Get Any Better Inside
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