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Peugeot 207 review (2006 onwards)
Leave your luggage with us, oui?" The Peugeot man was insistent, almost overboard. We were not to take our bags with us the following morning of the 207 launch, when we were pencilled in to drive the 1.4-litre petrol model.
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Logistics? Partly: but "the car will also be lighter." What does that reveal? That cars have become heavier, and that petrol engines haven 't kept pace, so it can 't hope to be as fun as its predecessors? On the surface, you 'd think so. But that 's before you spend time with the 207.
In all honesty, the shape isn 't a radical departure. A larger, modernified 206 with chiselled edges; more George than Lynne, but still attractive (save for an anonymous rear, complete with Kia Rio-style lights). The front is, in contrast, pleasing, despite all the engineering that 's gone into achieving a three-star Euro-NCAP pedestrian safety result (the latest Clio scores a woeful one star). Two 'noses' are offered Classic and Sport and naturally we preferred the latter. Here is another car looking to Maserati for cues. The chrome-accented grill would suit a 300S. And how much bigger is it than before? 200mm longer, 65mm wider, 56mm taller. The four-metre supermini is a set reality now.
The 206 was acknowledged for its shocking driving position and strike-a-match plastics. Peugeot has poured cash into the 207 to (almost) cure both. A cramped passenger footwell does raise right-hand-drive suspicions a little, but left-hookers were spot on, with a 'normal' relationship between controls for arms and legs; note, the steering wheel is reach adjustable as standard. This costs £250 on the Clio. Low sides and a deep, panoramic windscreen mean lots of visibility, while it 's the A-pillars ' angle rather than their thickness that create the inevitable front-corner visibility issues. C-pillars aren 't as restrictive as they look from outside, while the set-back mirrors are large and allow a useful view of kerbs from behind. The dash top stretches out to meet them from within, and oozes quality, even if door panels show hints of the 206 's elephantine materials.
Like the Clio, the 207 is a supermini with a more hospitable rear than its larger C-sector sibling. The bench of both three- and five-door models is supportive, with ample headroom (more in the three-door) and freedom for legs and feet. If you carry passengers often, go for a posher variant; they have cut-outs in front seat backs, for luxurious knee lounging. They 'll be Sport and SE trim. The range opens with Urban, which nobody will buy for not much more, S trim adds curtain airbags, electric mirrors, trip computer and the option of air con that 80 per cent of people take up. Sport trim is good-looking without being costly, we 're told, while GT models are canny GTI precursors. No prices available yet, but a hot 207 is a certainty, probably with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine developed with BMW.
Talking of engines. Currently they 're a mixed bunch. Best is the 1.6-litre HDi 110, with variable-geometry turbo and particulate filter. It 's smooth, very free-revving and quick, with the smart turbo boosting low-down torque and throttle response over the 90bhp unit fitted with a 'standard' blower. The less-powerful unit is also marginally gruffer, but still leagues ahead of the 110bhp 1.6-litre petrol. This is a unit dating back to the 205, and is poor. Flat unless revved, boomy when you exceed 5,000rpm, and set for less than a year 's life, after which it 's replaced by direct-injection 1.6-litre also developed with BMW. No, the 90bhp 1.4-litre 16v petrol is both cheaper and far better, with a thrashable nature that suits the 207 perfectly. Save your money, kids. And it is with this unit that Peugeot 's imminently-best-selling car clicked. It may be heavier, and have electric power steering, and a strong nod to refinement that makes it a classy, smooth-riding cruiser, but it can still please when you cane the living daylights out of it over shaken-spaghetti roads.
For the 207 may just have the most well-honed, sophisticated chassis of any current supermini. Yes, better even than the Fiesta. The steering is too light and the feel is artificial, but it 's quick, slack-free and, most importantly, complementary to the chassis; the 207 turns in with finesse, without delay. It rides undulations with taught assuredness but not harshness. You know how much you can lean on the tyres, what they 're doing, and enjoy a real wide-track, squat, wheel at each corner feel that means you can jockey every one of those 90 horses without fear. Despite its power deficit, you 'll make remarkable progress across bend-laden roads, simply because you can use so much of its (surprisingly high) grip reserves without fear or hesitation. And should you ignore the chatty chassis and reach the limits of grip, the tail will hold no nasty surprises if you panic. It 's agile, yet will still understeer gently rather than wag its rear.
This, like a ride that trades a lolloping, roll-along gait for keen, alert yet still comfortable manners, is where the 207 is again an advance over its predecessor. But similarities remain; the gearbox initially feels slack, rubbery, until you begin charging and realise it bangs between ratios with lightning speed and accuracy. The 1.4-litre hums along and, in the 3-5k rev range, feels unburstable. The well-stocked dial pack is clear and attractive, low sides grant good visibility and upper-range cars still have particularly pleasant velour trim. It 's a polished 206 with that car 's criticisms and foibles addressed and is a car of some competency as a result.
Yes, it 's heavier. But 200kg over the average 205 doesn 't seem such a disaster when you consider more space, more refinement, much more quality and massively improved crash safety. Drive a 205 after this and it 's like driving with a big spike poking through the steering column, inches from your chest. Even Peugeot acknowledges the advances by stating that 80 per cent of buyers will use the 207 as their primary car. In many ways it 's the new 306; enjoyable, characterful, just the right size. It is certainty a sweeter, more satisfying drive than the dearer 307, with remains slightly awkward-looking and disappointing.
We retrieved our luggage in the end, which was ably swallowed by a boot larger now Peugeot 's consigned trailing arm rear suspension to history (it 'll be gone for good when the 206 disappears). Driving back to the airport, the conclusion was; job well done. The taught ride and driving position do pose a few potential UK issues, and pricing is a key that 's yet to be announced, but Peugeot seem unlikely to be off the ball here; look to a £9,000 starter price, with a 1.4 16v S up at around £10k. It 's heavier, safer, larger, more refined, not massively fast but, crucially, the 207 still feels like you 'd expect a smaller Peugeot to. And that 's something to celebrate.
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