Car reviews - Peugeot - 207 - CC 1.6 Turbo
Vastly improved over 206 CC, good value, safety, refinement, mid-range turbo smoothness, economy, styling
Room for improvement
Languid acceleration, no sixth gear, no auto option, very small rear seats
18 Dec 2007
“NICE car, shame about the colour!” shouted one man from the backseat of a Daewoo Nubira wearing P-plates.
Dismayed at a dig to what is actually a rather fetching shade of metallic green, we felt like responding: “Actually, that should be ‘nice car, shame about the turbo lag!’” as we struggled up the fairly steep inner-city hill in our 207 CC Sport – and that’s Sport with a fancy twin-scroll turbocharger.
What an oversight, Peugeot!
You finally fix most of the many and glaring faults of this car’s predecessor, the 206 CC, and then go about undoing much of your good work by installing a lovely forced-induction four-cylinder engine co-developed with BMW featuring gearing with a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.
Is it better fuel economy figures that the French are after? Or perhaps the 1500kg-odd kerb weight is just too much for the 110kW/240Nm 1.6-litre turbo to bear.
Whatever, it is a serious flaw. Floor your foot and… nothing. You end up mashing the pedal in first, and then changing the rather vague five-speed shifter (even Nissan’s most basic Tiida has a six-speeder) into second, only to be met by a feeble amount of forward ‘thrust’ that only recovers from the hole it’s fallen into once the turbo wakes up.
At that point, when you reach 2500rpm, the engine hits a healthy sweet spot that smoothly but forcefully pulls you forward, turning the torpid convertible into a rapid little ripper runabout.
Maybe 98 RON premium unleaded might help, but as it stands the Turbo is more like a turtle at take-off speeds.
Nevertheless, we reckon that Peugeot has found the right balance elsewhere, particularly in harmonising dynamic ability and laid-back comfort in the 207 CC.
Evidence of this is in the steering. Although disappointingly feel-free, it remains a well-considered conduit for linear and responsive handling, aided by body control that is kept under taut and tight reign for flat and neutral roadholding.
Furthermore, the ride is quite absorbent, while scuttle-shake – shimmering in the body – is well below the worry threshold.
Sure, dynamically you won’t be bothering the driver of a well-driven Mini Cooper Cabrio, let alone a Mazda MX-5, but the 207 CC hustles along eagerly if the mood takes you – once the engine is spinning above 2500rpm, of course.
Of the problems the previous petite Peugeot drop-top suffered, probably the most problematic was the retractable roof mechanism, which left some drivers of earlier models stranded at half-mast all too often, raising doubts about reliability and longevity.
Happily, the French turfed out the old suppliers in favour of an in-house design for the 207 CC, promising much higher quality from the car’s main party trick.
We will have to wait and see, but the two-piece steel roof – though not especially speedy – whirred through its acrobatic state of metamorphosis without hitch or hindrance, and then preceded to shut out the world in a tightly cocooned environment that would make most closed cars proud.
Still, the roof will not work at all unless the car is stationary, and the button requires continuous pressing for it to complete every manoeuvre (although there is now no need to latch and unlatch the roof’s trailing edge from inside the car before operation, which simplifies matters).
Unsurprisingly, with the roof retracted the boot can only boast a fraction of its usual cargo capacity. For the record, it plummets from 449 to 187 litres.
At least Peugeot has provided a one-touch button to lower and raise all four windows.
The company has done a fine job blending the required large butt with a harmonious open and closed coupe design. We like the detailing, particularly around the rear, but find the gaping grille design a tad disturbing. Somebody described it as looking like Hannibal Lector’s facemask, and we agree.
Opening the heavy front doors reveals a much smarter interior presentation than the 206 CC’s.
Nicely solid and stylish with its chrome accents (particularly around the instrumentation), it is your usual modern and functional French car cabin.
There is enough space inside for most tall drivers, but the rear seat is extremely token and better serves as a place to throw junk on. Still, as a very occasional four-seater, it is handy as a comic device to squeeze your (soon to be former) friends into.
We liked the front seats, the fact the steering wheel will telescope and tilt to aid driver comfort, the lack of wind noise, clear and effective ventilation controls, ample storage options, overall refinement qualities and the fact that there are side airbags in this convertible.
But we kept coming back to the sorry lack of acceleration. Maybe Peugeot should shoehorn a torquey 2.0-litre petrol engine underneath that stubby little nose, or – better still – slot in its fine range of HDi turbo-diesel powerplants.
The 207 CC is a much greater advance over its patchy predecessor than its very similar styling suggests. It is also preferable to its 307 CC sibling, which is burdened by rather unfortunate styling.
Now that the Holden Tigra has gone and Nissan will not import the rather fine (if hilariously camp) Micra C+C coupe convertible, it seems that the pioneer of this market segment has only the costlier Mini Cabrio, ageing VW Beetle Cabriolet and offbeat Mitsubishi Colt Cabriolet to contend with – and the latter doesn’t come with an automatic transmission.
The thing is, that’s fine if we’re talking about the base models. But buyers of a turbocharged convertible expect hair-ruffling performance – something that both the Colt Turbo and Mini Cooper S cabrios manage more effectively than the tardy 207 CC Turbo.
If only there was just a bit more colour in the way this Peugeot performed.
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