New car report: Konnichiha, mon ami.
With a wide product range covering the whole spectrum from small city runabouts, sporty coupes and convertibles through to luxury saloons and wagons, about the only thing missing from Peugeot's line-up has been the Kiwi favourite, an SUV.
Entering new territory can be something of a gamble, so going down a tried and tested track rather than re-inventing the wheel can have its benefits.
So the PSA (Peugeot / Citroen) Group has struck a deal with Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi for the use of their Outlander as a starting point for the new Peugeot 4007 and Citroen equivalent, the C-Crosser. Not a silly idea, seeing Mitsubishi has a long-standing reputation in the 4x4, SUV sector.
Peugeot is not the first Gallic car maker to bring an SUV to market, and not the first one with Japanese connections. That honour goes to Renault who launched their SUV/Crossover Koleos back in 2008. However, Renault had a head start as they had existing links to Japanese manufacturer Nissan, from where they borrowed the X-Trail platform.
But here's where Peugeot's approach differs from Renault's. Where Renault adopted a familiar shared platform arrangement on which to base their Koleos, Peugeot took the entire vehicle, added a good measure of French flair in the form of a controversially styled gaping mouth and new running gear, slapped a giant lion emblem on the front and "voila, it's a Peugeot!."
In fairness to Peugeot, although they've come very close to it, they've probably trodden just the right side of that fine line we call "badge engineering." HDi diesel power and an automatic 6 speed DCS (Dual Clutch System) transmission robbed from Mitsi's latest Evo 10, being the major saving grace.
They've also made various other subtle exterior styling changes, re-tuned the suspension, re-worked the interior trim and added a leather steering wheel and dash trim. But there's no getting away from the fact that at the heart of the 4007 there lies a Mitsubishi.
Not that there's anything wrong with the Mitsubishi, and Peugeot's treatment has enhanced it. The Outlander has cried out for a diesel engine ever since its launch back in 2006, and diesel engines don't come much better than Peugeot's HDi.
In this case, the HDi is of 2.2 litre capacity and produces 115kW of power and 380Nm of torque, for which Peugeot quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.3L/100km. A braked towing weight rating is quoted at 2,000kg
If the measure of success is customer demand, then Peugeot has a winner on its hands. Peugeot New Zealand Divisional Manager, Simon Rose has been overwhelmed with interest in the 4007. His forecasting predicted around 100 units in the first year. However, the 4007 hit our market with 75 units pre-sold, well above expectation.
"People who may never have considered us are now," says Rose. "We will be inviting every existing competitor SUV owner to have a look."
The 4007 (incidentally, that's Four Thousand and Seven as opposed to Four Double-0 Seven, due to some argie-bargie with James Bond's people), is offered in New Zealand in three forms, an entry level five seat manual and two seven seat automatics, a Sport model and a full-house Luxury model.
Of the 75 sold so far, 70% of those are in the luxury trim specification.
The entry level model gets climate control air-conditioning with refrigerated glove box, trip computer function, cruise control, CD player with MP3 function, automatic headlight function and front fog lights.
The Sports model up-sizes the 16" alloys to 18s and gets the impressive 6 speed DCS 'box, 6 stack CD player and Bluetooth. The Luxury model adds further refinement with leather interior, electric heated seats, Xenon headlights, rear parking assistance, tinted side and rear tailgate glass and chrome trim inside and out.
Safety features include the usual fare such as ABS and EBD, as well as ESP (Electronic Stability Control), ASR (Anti Skid Regulation) and 6 airbags. But with a 4 star Euro NCAP crash test rating, the 4007 falls one star short of the rest of the Peugeot range as well as many of its competitors which are now achieving 5 stars.
Pricing overlaps the $37,990 to $54,990 spread of the petrol-only Mitsubishi Outlander, starting at $49,990 for the entry level 5 speed manual 4007, $55,490 for the Sport and $59,990 for the Luxury model.
There's no doubt that having an SUV on offer will attract new customers into Peugeot showrooms The 4007 is a good fit for New Zealand's outdoor lifestyle, something that Peugeot is keen to cash in on.