President's Report - September 2008

Greetings All,

With the price of fuel spiraling ever upward, fuel efficiency has become a major factor for many people in choosing which car to buy. Fortunately, with the strength of the Australian dollar compared to overseas currencies, we have been cushioned somewhat from the recent increase in global oil price. However, while global oil prices have eased in the past month or two, the Aussie dollar has weakened, so don't expect any significant decrease in fuel price at the bowser.

Having decided to retire my 1985 505 GTi executive from daily use (though it's only done 365,000 km) I was in the market for a replacement. Furthermore, since our 2001 306 HDi has proved both reliable and fuel efficient, a diesel replacement seemed very attractive. [Actually, the 505 is not being fully retired, simply passed on to my youngest son, Geoff, who is studying at UNSW in Sydney.] With a 307 Touring runout sale occurring at an opportune time, I test-drove a 1.6 litre 5 speed manual and a 2 litre 6 speed manual. I much preferred the 2 litre version, and with a stated fuel consumption (combined city/highway cycle) of 5.6 l/100 km it was pleasingly fuel efficient (compared with an even more miserly 5.0 l/100 km for the 1.6).

I like the look of the series two 307 Touring wagons, and with added goodies that Peugeot was offering in the runout sale (rear parking sensors, metallic paint, CD stacker and alloys as I recall) this was a strong contender. As it happened, the same weekend I also testdrove a 2005 407 HDi 4 speed auto with a stated fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km (combined cycle). After driving the 407 I realized two things: First, I actually prefer driving an automatic (especially in city traffic), which is probably not surprising after a lazy eight years of driving my 505 auto, and second, I found the 407 a more comfortable and better handling car than the 307's. In particular, I think that Sue and I will enjoy the 407 as a touring car for our longer trips.

Compared to equivalent petrol-engined models, the 307 and 407 diesels are anywhere between 20 and 40% more fuel efficient, with similarly lower CO2 emissions. On the down-side, diesel fuel is up to 20% more expensive than standard unleaded petrol in Canberra some weeks. So, at present, the saving on fuel costs is not all that significant. Thus far (only one month), the driving experience has been pleasurable in the 407, though it will take some time to discover all the hidden mysteries of the control panel and multifunction displays. The only minor complaint is that I find it tricky to park and manouvre in tight spaces, the front extremities being obscured by the sloping bonnet. However, I fully expect to get used to this with further practice.

At this month's club meeting on Tuesday 23rd September we are trying something a bit different - dinner in the restaurant of the Canberra Services Club, starting at 7 pm. The restaurant offers good honest club food (fish & chips, steaks, spaghetti bolognaise etc) at very reasonable prices, some as low as $10, so why not join us for a drink and a feed before we ease into a shortened club meeting at the usual time of 8 pm?

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

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