Engine of a Mini Seven racing Mini
Photo: Copyright © 2009 Eelke Blok

Goodbye 307 ...

In may of this year, when I started my new job, I drove a Chili Red new Mini for a few weeks. Although it was a Mini, that was about all it had going for it. So, I asked for and got the chance to order my very own Mini. Exit CR Mini, enter metallic black Peugeot 307, which I had to drive until my own Mini would arrive. You can read about everything related to that CR Mini and everything concerning the ordering of my own Mini2 under the category New Mini.

However, this post will not be about Mini's. As the day that I will be getting my Mini Cooper Checkmate and will be handing over the 307 to anoher lucky colleague is getting very near now (2nd of january, yay!), I thought it'd be nice to have kind of a review about my experience with the Peugeot.

First of all, it needs to be said that the car I have been driving is the fase 1 model. In the past year, Peugeot has launched a fase 2 model of the 307, which I also had a chance to drive, if only for a day. It has to be said up in advance that mostly all gripes I have had with the fase 1 have been ironed out.

Gripes? Yes, gripes. Sometimes, you hear people say that bad cars aren't built anymore. Well, they must not have visted France. Of course, this is all in context of modern times and there is a degree of truth in that cliche; the Peugeot certainly has nice qualities too. It's relatively comfortable, has nice road holding and with its 2.0 136 bhp engine, it is quite zippy. However, the car also has a few problems that have not done much good for the already not-so-good image I had of French cars. Of course, this is all based on a single car, which I have not driven since it was new, so, for what it's worth.

Shaking engine

On cold start, the engine of this car will shake, from only minor, up to quite badly, up to the point that it becomes annoying and uncomfortable. The car has been to the dealer twice, and on both accounts an additive was put in the oil. This sounded crazy to me at first, but since I have been told that the shaking is because the engine has hydraulic valves, and the oil is too sticky when it is cold. I think the shaking has become marginally less since the last time the car was treated. Because this is an additive to the oil, it has to be repeated every time the oil is changed, so that does mean an oil change becomes more expensive. The fase 2 307 I drove didn't have this problem at all, so either it was improved with the fase 2, this is a problem of this specific car, or a bit of both.

Display gets unreadable when hot

Not so much a problem in this time of year, but during summer there was a very noticeable problem with the LED display that is in the center of the dashboard and is used to display information about the stereo and about the on-board computer. When the car had been parked in the sun for a few hours, it would obviously be very hot inside. The display would then develop unreadable areas. Did Peugeot not have a budget to visit Death Valley with their prototypes, as so many manufacturers do? I drove the fase 2 only a few weeks ago, so I could not see whether it also has this problem, although it does have a much fancier graphic display (albeit still with amber LEDs).

Cruise control

The cruise control has a very hard time of keeping speed. The speed will be up to as much as 5 KPH higher or lower than the set speed, depending on whether you are on an incline, or the car is slowing down or speeding up to the set speed. Very annoying when you set it to not go over the speed limit (because it may momentarily shoot over the set speed and thereby exceed the limit) or when you are overtaking another car and momentarily going under the set speed (because when you have released the throttle, the car may drop in speed too far, meaning that the car you just overtook may go faster than you again and wondering what the hell you are doing).

Flimsy interior

Not so much a specific problem, but the interior quality is not very good in this car. Hard plastic, lids that have a low-quality feel to them, etc. When I first got the car, I wondered what that little lid above the rear view mirror was. It turned out to be a compartment for a pair of sunglasses, but when it was open I had a hard time closing it again. After it was fixed by the dealer, it still feels like you shouldn't open and close it a lot, or it will get exactly the same problem.

Bad paintwork

I have needed to get the roof repainted because a large seagull had left a great big pile of seagull poop on it. I only discovered this must have happened after I took the car through the carwash (beforehand, nothing was to be seen, so supposedly the stain had washed off before I could see it, and it wasn't so obvious under a layer of dirt). When the car was bright and shiny again, there turned out to be a large stain on the paint that had been etched into the paint. Of course, seagull poop isn't what it used to be anymore, but I'm under the distinct impression that paint quality has had a large hand into this as well.

Also, a few weeks after I started driving the car, the outside temperature sensor was replaced, because the readings were incorrect and it appeared that the climate control was also getting confused because of this. However, sensors break, so we'll not put this in the "official" list of gripes :)

Although the fase 2 I drove had much better cruise control, and didn't have the shaking engine, the interior wasn't much different (although it didn't have the sunvisor compartment because it was the SW version which has a glass roof) and of course, seeing as it was december, it was not hot enough to check whether the display handles heat better. Also, there were no seagulls around to check the last gripe.

All in all, this Peugeot 307 fase 1 has not done much good to my idea about French cars. To end by quoting Jeremy Clarkson: "There's good cars, and French cars."

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