22/05/2007 00:00 | By Kyle Fortune, contributor, MSN Cars

Peugeot 207 GTI review (2007 onwards)



Peugeot 207 GTI (© Peugeot)


What – Peugeot 207 GTI
Where – Buxton, Derbyshire
Price – £14,995
Available – Now
Key rivals – RenaultSport Clio 197, Vauxhall Corsa VXR, Mini Cooper S

Summary

Peugeot throws its 207 GTI into the supermini hot hatch bullring and puts up a good fight. After the disappointing 206 GTi the 207 is a huge improvement.

Likes: Price, performance, the fact that Peugeot can still build entertaining driver’s carsDislikes: Long gearshift, bouncy ride (at speed), double push accelerator, visibility

Read more Peugeot car reviews

A return to form?

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Peugeot. Once a maker of some of the most enjoyable hot-hatches you could throw down a country lane, and believe the oft-repeated and not strictly true ‘fact’ – through a hedge and into a field backwards, the French firm has never been able to repeat their brilliance. I’m talking of course of the 205 GTi, but the same is also true of the 106 and 306 GTis. And I’m one of those critics. I’ve a 1.6 205 GTi in my garage and it remains one of the most engaging and enjoyable drives ever. I’ll never sell it

Watch: our Peugeot 207 GTi video road test

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

Don’t just take my word for it though. It’s a bit of a loner my car, having been driven by most of my friends and family. And every single person who drives it comes back enthusing about how much they enjoyed it. Peugeot didn’t recreate that magic with the 206 GTi, which makes it all the more surprising that after an 85 mile cross-country thrash in the latest 207 GTi I’m rather smitten. I’m not the biggest fan of the 207’s looks, but even I’ll admit in GTi form it looks, er, striking. It’s helped on my car by the gleaming white paint and optional Octane pack that includes tinted windows among other kit like rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control.

Lower output, stronger performer

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

At first the 175bhp the 207 GTi’s got doesn’t sound like it’s going to cut it among its VXR and RenaultSport rivals that offer 189 and 197bhp respectively. But it does, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine actually the same one that nestles under the bonnet of another of the GTi’s rivals – the Mini Cooper S. It’s an impressively smooth and powerful unit, the turbocharger giving it a nice rich seam of torque right across its rev range. It’s fast too, not quite as manic as the VXR or Clio, but 7.1 seconds to 62mph isn’t slow and is only a couple of tenths off its competition. Unsurprisingly, it matches the Mini.

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

Unlike the cutesy Mini the 207 manages with a five-speed gearbox. Six is more normal in this class these days, but at no point did I ever feel the need for another ratio – a shorter, sweeter shift perhaps – but a sixth gear isn’t needed here. Given that in most of its rivals you’ll slot straight from fourth to sixth anyway that’s true of them too. In gear acceleration is strong, meaning the GTi can make overtakes easily without frantically dropping cogs in the quest for pace, while economy is also respectable at 39.2mpg on the official combined cycle.

Brilliant roads, entertaining drive

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

Not that I got anything like that on my drive. Blame the brilliant roads around Derbyshire’s Peak District and an entertaining chassis. More than any recent Peugeot the 207 GTi is a enjoyable car to drive. The steering has some feel, not anything like the detail of its predecessors but enough among its contemporaries. The body control is good up to a point too, with high speed and undulations making for bumpy progress. In fairness, that’s very high speed, and some pretty nasty roads – everywhere else it’s fine. The brakes shrug off abuse but are rather grabby until you adjust to them and the pedal itself is decently positioned for heal-and-toe downshifting.

More noise please

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

It’s just a shame that when doing so there’s not more of a rousing engine note. A blare or cackle from the exhaust would add so much more to its character. However, that civility does mean it’s refined when you’re not in such a hurry. That’s not to say the 207’s not fun - pitch the GTi into a tight corner and the grip is impressive, though lift off and you’ll find some of the old throttle adjustability of the 205 deep down in its chassis. It’s all very enjoyable, and with ESP as standard it’s unlikely you’ll be knocking on any farmers’ doors to say you’ve put a hole in their hedge.

Cultural wail, uncultured performance

Peugeot 207 GTI (© image © Peugeot)

That substantial, safe feel translates to the interior. Like its lesser relatives there’s airbags everywhere, but Peugeot has enhanced the sporting appeal with bucket seats, a thick-rimmed leather steering wheel and an alloy gearknob. It’s all relatively restrained, though like its non-GTi relatives there are areas where the plastics look and feel a bit cheap. It doesn’t feel tremendously spacious either, though adults are less likely to complain about travelling in the rear seats as they might in rivals and in particular the Mini. Add a decent-sized boot and the 207 GTi does what a hot hatch should – blend performance with decent practicality.

Changed times, fun car

Peugeot 207 GTI video road test (© image © Peugeot)

So has it recaptured the magic of Peugeot’s past? No, but it’s not far off it. Accept that we live in different times and the 207 GTi does a great job given our extra demands for equipment, safety kit, refinement, emissions and crash protection. Like many of us, it may be a big bigger and not as agile as it once was, and a bit more sensible too, but spend some time with it and the fun’s still there. No more so than many of its rivals admittedly, but as a day-to-day proposition its one of the most rounded and liveable cars in its class. And it’s cheaper than them, too.

The MSN Cars verdict ****

Peugeot demonstrates that it’s still got the ability to build enjoyable hot hatches. Buy one and enjoy it, but get a nice 205 GTI too for the money you’d spend on the £1,000 Octane pack…

Ratings out of five: Peugeot 207 GTI

Need to know

Read more Peugeot car reviews
Watch: our Peugeot 207 GTi video road test
Twin-test: Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S
Driven: Vauxhall Corsa VXR
Driven: Volkswagen Polo GTI

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