Peugeot has launched an all-new 807 ‘people carrier’ (also known as an MPV or Multi-Purpose Vehicle; in the US, read minivan), replacing the 806 which dates back to the summer of 1994.

That model was the result of a collaborative project between Fiat and PSA which also produced Fiat, Lancia and Citroen versions at the then-new Sevelnord factory near Valenciennes in northern France.

Peugeot 806 sales hardly approached Chrysler‘s multi-milion minivan volumes: by the end of December 2001, the total number sold worldwide was just 168,000.

Higher hopes are held for the 807 which is again a cooperation between Fiat and PSA and will be built with several nameplates.

The latest 807 has an entirely new body 4.73 m in length with two hinged doors at the front and two sliding doors at the rear (which can optionally be motorised). The roof is made of aluminium and “flag” door mirrors incorporate the side repeaters.

The structure and underbody are however carried over from the 806 but significantly modified to further enhance safety and road holding.

An entirely revamped interior, including centre-mounted instrument dials fast becoming fashionable amongst car makers, can accommodate up to seven passengers.

Peugeot is particularly proud of its “instrument arch” which, together with the huge athermal windscreen, helps give an impression of space and ambient light. Designers also mention the translucent instrument panels, with three green spheres illuminated by a ‘shadow play effect’ or equipped with a 16/9 ratio seven-inch monitor screen.

Petrol engine options include two- and 2.2-litre fours and a three-litre V6, the latter with automatic gearbox, plus multi-valve two- and 2.2-litre HDi diesel engines with particulate emission filter (FAP) exhaust systems.

The suspension includes a deformable rear cross member redesigned to incorporate an anti-roll function and an electronic stability programme.

Automatic illumination of hazard lights and a puncture warning light are optionally available on some versions.

Passive safety features include seven three-point seat belts, one of which is integrated in the central seat, and six air bags, two of which are curtain air bags protecting passengers’ heads in all three rows of seats – a world first.

Driver aids include programmable excess speed alarm (important in speed camera-infested UK and Europe), electrically adjustable rear-view mirrors, a rear screen wiper that starts automatically when reverse gear is engaged, optional reverse parking monitor, easy punctured tyre change system and, as first seen on some Citroens, a child surveillance mirror (or ‘conversation’ mirror, as Peugeot also calls it).

Three sunroofs, ‘privacy tinted side windows, and a roof-mounted video screen with infra-red headphones are also on the options list.

Numerous dedicated, cooled, concealed, and relocatable storage compartments are also fitted as standard.