UK CAR Reviews: Peugeot 806 tdi
After an unexpected invite I'm faced with a 460mile round trip for two people and no luggage.
Contacting the works supplier of rental vehicles I have visions of a nice little 306 to scoot there and back, "sorry" comes the ever so helpful reply "we have not 306's left".
Okay plan B "406" I ask expectantly.
"errmmm nope none of them left either"
"what have you got" I ask desperately.
"Emmm an 806 we will drop it off this afternoon"
Street cred shot, my co-pilot arranged to pick me up at 7:45, and I went home to dig out a beige suit and a tank top and dark glasses.
That night was a restless one with endless nightmare involving myself plodding along in a large van, with friends spotting me despite the Dark shades, and endless queues of grannies flagging me down at bus stops.
7:45 my worst nightmare becomes real as an all too bright silver 806 shuffles past my front window and does a 17 point turn at the end of the street. Oh well its only for a day, at least I can give it back tomorrow.
The first leg of the Journey is all motorway. The 806 jump into the morning rush with suprising vigour, and joins the endless 80mph procession. The Air con is adjusted to a low light blow, a CD is stuffed into the fitted player and minds switch to autopilot and dreams of 806 coupes.
At 65-80mph the 806 rides with slightly wooden gait. but its comfortable enough. Handling is worrying me far more, any corner seem to be taken with a sudden lurch of lean, seemingly an endless amount of time after the steering wheel has been moved.
80 mph lasts until Birmingham, it all looks sweet until almost through, when we slow for the inevitable hold up. Pogoing from 0-30-0-30mph at least give me the opportunity to try out the remote dash mounted gear stick. Its really not a bad shift at all, when you consider its lack of proximity to the Gearbox.
By the time we pull into the oxford services we have been on the road some 3 hours and I'm just starting to suffer numb bum syndrome, Not the worst seats I've ever sat in but there are plenty around to day you can drive for lot longer spells without suffering drivers Ass Ache. Really impressive though is how isolated from the days heat the Air con has made us. We step from a cool cabin into stifling humid heat. Drinks in hand we jump back in, practical may be its name, but cup holders for the front two passengers is not its game. At least in the back you get little picnic tables. Storage space up front is depressingly limited despite the expanse of space and dashboard.
Back on the road we head across country. Cutting through country lanes in a direct line to our target. Cutting is not really the right word, that implies something sharp. We are more sort of barrelling, bludgeoning our way. The steering is devoid of real feel and seemingly attached to the front wheels by some kind of time delay device, but at least its light and not too much hard work.
The real problem comes when we happen upon a doddering guy in a 2 litre 806. We van keep up down the straights in fact he is holding us up, but he disappear on every corner. We would love to go past him, but we cant not trough lack of power, just through lack of space and the unwieldy nature of the beast we are stuck in. Even if the road get long and straight, slicing past him would risk tangling mirrors at best. Oh for that 306, any 306, with that we could just nip past and zoom away without him noticing.
As we enter the town the gearbox starts to work ever harder. Speeds are slow enough to make handling a bit of an irrelevance, but mini roundabouts remain a bit of a handful.
The vision which seemed so clear on the motorway, is not now so clear cut. Sure its square and you can judge where the back is. But god only knows where the front of the thing is.
The brakes start to get a bit heavier use around town, and to be honest they are a bit of a let down. They are very spongy, and need a real hard initial press, then they bite hard and they do stop you, but they do not impart much confidence and I was never totally convinced by them.
Performance is quite sprightly and it for once, feels better than it figures suggest.
Most suprising is the way it pulls onto motorway slip roads and with your foot hard down charges up to 90mph without any trouble at all. Its a bit of a shame that its most comfortable cruising speed is 20mph over the speed limit. Because at this speed it is Serenely quiet and very stable.
It reaches an indicated 100mph with little fuss but its probably just about all done then.
Gearing is wonderfully high pulling 90 @ approx 3000rpm which helps with the cruising.
The Turbo Diesel disguises itself quite well, and from inside you would be hard pushed to notice it. Up to 3000rpm its a stomper, but it becomes breathless quickly after that point and there is little point in revving it past 3500rpm.
After making the rendezvous, we decide to forgo the cross country slog and take the longer but quicker motorway route back. It's just a case of nailing it to the floor until it hits 85mph and then spending the next 200 miles keeping up with the endless trail of reps, occasionally pulling over for the real flyers.
Later that night a fill up hits the wallet for a crunching £57, (76.6p litre) but the bus has done the best part of 500miles at high speed.
After giving the thing back I can look back with a little admiration on the thing, which really does perform much better than I expected. But I'm still hard pressed to see the point of MPV's Unless you really need 8 seats you are probably better off in an Estate. And if you do need 8 seats you had better have very little luggage, because there is not much boot left with all the seats in.
But If you really feel you must have an MPV, this is probably as good as any other.
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