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Future models - Peugeot - 207

First drive: Peugeot's 207 numbers stack up!

Due by March: Peugeot's all-new 207 will be sold alongside the current 206.

Peugeot’s next-generation baby takes it to the Golf in its bid for Euro supremacy

4 Oct 2006

PEUGEOT is poised to rock the premium end of the small-car class with its all-new 207 range. Small? Yes, the heir to the 206, Peugeot’s previous light car combatant, is bigger in every dimension, gate-crashing the next segment above.

On sale in the first quarter of next year, the three and five-door hatchback will supplant – rather than replace – the eight-year-old 206 light car series, which will live on for at least another 12 to 18 months.

The 207 will be keenly positioned, with its importers, Peugeot Automobile Australia (PAA), confident of a sub-$20,000 price for the entry-level model.

An example of the 207 is on its way for this month’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

Peugeot has upsized everything compared to the 206. In fact, it takes up about the same amount of road space as the 306 small car of the 1990s.

Over the 206, the 207 is 208mm longer, and measurably wider, with a larger, more cab forward body that liberates greater amounts of shoulder space, legroom and luggage capacity than before.

But weight has also ballooned, by up to 150kg on some models. Much of this is attributed to the sizeable gains the 207 enjoys in safety, body strength, cabin refinement and material quality over its predecessor.

Built off Peugeot’s front-wheel drive ‘Platform 1’ base that also underpins the oddball 1007, as well as the Citroen C2 and C3/Pluriel range, the latest little Peugeot retains the class-norm McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension design.

Electricity – rather than hydraulics – drives the rack and pinion steering system.

The 207 scores five stars in the European NCAP ratings, and a higher-than-class-average three stars for the pedestrian result. The child protection outcome is four stars.

PAA will follow the existing 206 range’s model framework, so expect – in ascending order of price – the usual XR, XT, C and (by the end of 2007) GTI variant nomenclature, or something similar.

The latter eschews the 206 GTI’s 2.0-litre power for the company’s all-new 1.6-litre "THP" (Turbo High Pressure) four-cylinder engine that has been co-developed with BMW.

Featuring a novel twin-scroll turbo-charger, variable-valve timing, direct injection technology, and a new six-speed manual gearbox, power and torque outputs are expected to be in the vicinity of 128kW at 5500rpm and 260kW at 1700rpm.

In contrast, today’s 206 GTI 180 is rated at 130kW at 7000rpm and 202Nm at 4750rpm. The new model will also easily eclipse its predecessor for fuel economy and reduced emissions.

Peugeot hasn’t actually divulged any 207 GTI details as yet. The figures above are from BMW’s new R56 Mini Cooper S, the other recipient of this high-output THP engine.

The 207 product onslaught doesn’t end there though.

Peugeot will cast an even broader net to snag premium light and small-car buyers with a "sporty/luxury" GT, as well as its first "baby" diesel to be sold in Australia.

23 center imageThe spiritual successor to the lower-powered (100kW) 206 GTI (which was discontinued earlier this year), the 207 GT will slot beneath the more hardcore GTI, and will include stability control, Panoramic sunroof, climate control air-conditioning, tyre-pressure monitors, rear parking radar, and part-leather seat trim as standard.

More to the point, it features a detuned version of the GTI’s 1.6-litre THP turbo engine, pumping out 110kW at 5800rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm – an output that Peugeot says must "… surely be a world record for low-down torque." This version of the THP engine will be unique to Peugeot.

The 207 GT will cost about $31,500, and will give the new Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart something to think about, as well as the Holden Astra Turbo.

Meanwhile, the 207 HDi diesel, positioned from about $24,000, is set to lock horns with the similarly priced Volkswagen Polo TDI and Fiat Punto 1.3 JTD.

It is the same 1.6-litre low-particular filter four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit also employed in the larger 307 and Citroen C4 HDi ranges.

Interestingly, this engine shares some fundamental componentry with the THP turbo unit, even though it runs on diesel and was developed with Ford.

Power is rated at 80kW at 4000rpm, while the 240Nm torque maximum kicks in at 1750rpm. There is also an overboost function that ups the torque top a further 20Nm.

Significantly, the 207 HDi’s fuel consumption should at least match its C4 cousin’s 4.7L/100km, while carbon dioxide emissions should also be in the region of 125g per kilometre.

The only gearbox on offer in the HDi will be a five-speed manual, for now at least. The French company believes that a six-speed manual gearbox is deemed too expensive for a light-car class competitor.

However, Peugeot’s six-speed clutchless manual ‘2Tronic’ transmission – a second-generation version of the Sensodrive unit utilised by Citroen in the C2 and C3 range in Australia – should follow by the end of 2007.

A normally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine, delivering around 88kW at 6000rpm and about 160Nm at 2000rpm (again, these are the new Mini’s figures), will power the majority of the 207 range, while the base model will have a 1.4-litre unit producing approximately 66kW at 5250rpm and 133Nm at 3250rpm.

Prices will be announced closer to the launch date.

Peugeot 207 drive impressions:
DISENFRANCHISED 306 owners rejoice! Peugeot’s decision to upsize its long-awaited 206 replacement doesn’t just deliver the usual dividends of more space, comfort, safety and refinement expected from a generational advance.

Virtually the size of the late and lamented French small car of the 1990s, the 207 – all-new from the ground up compared to the 206, but sharing an albeit heavily revamped Citroen C2/C3 platform architecture – also offers some of the 306’s more sublime attractions as well – traits that seems to have bypassed the larger and more family-orientated 307, which is a bit too dull for fans of the marque.

In its time the 306 stood out with its seductive handling, ride and styling, but then tripped over with cruddy base engines, flimsy interiors and iffy reliability.

Happily, the 207 is enriched with some of the spirit of the 306, while Peugeot seems to have addressed most the old negative points.

Take the styling – subtle it isn’t. But the car is surprisingly pretty on the road, and possesses a presence, an imposing stance and plenty of striking detailing to draw punters in. We haven’t seen a grin this toothy since the EK Holden, either.

The French are obviously following VW’s Golf trick by evolving the basic 206 silhouette. Yet in the flesh the 207, in three-door hatchback guise at least, appears more contemporary and coupe-like than pictures have conveyed.

More importantly, Peugeot seems to have rediscovered how to make small cars fun to drive again, after the plodding 307 and Europe-only 1007.

Great handling and fantastic grip (assisted by sticky Pirelli P-Zero tyres fitted to the 207 GT sampled) are this car’s dynamic hallmarks, and perhaps the main reason why enthusiastic drivers must include it on any premium light car shopping list.

The 207 corners with an expertise hitherto the domain of, say, sportier versions of the Ford Fiesta, but with seemingly more security and poise.

Driven on a fairly diverse range of southern French roads blotted by very high winds, the 207’s stability recalls much larger vehicles, tracking true and feeling very grown up indeed.

But before you get too excited, Peugeot’s decision to employ electric power steering means that intimate steering feel is absent, sadly. And the steering rack is a tad too slow for a car as athletic as this. We assume the company is saving the fast and furious stuff for the upcoming 207 GTI.

For now, despite the brilliant handling, the GT’s tiller is a bit of a dead zone for drivers reared on the 306’s.

Thankfully, in almost every other way, the 207 has abilities above and beyond that of its spiritual predecessor.

Most impressively, as the 1.6-litre GT, the Peugeot introduces the company’s first-ever turbo-charged petrol powerplant to Australia. And the result might startle you.

In a very manner very alien to non-GTI Peugeots of the past, this sub-GTI model’s performance comes on instantly yet smoothly and pleasurably, and keeps on coming-on, all the way to just under 6000rpm. BMW’s Valvetronic variable-valve timing is the key here, along with direct-injection and twin-scroll turbocharger technology.

Armed with 110kW of power and a maximum of 240Nm of torque from a low 1400rpm, there is an enjoyable breadth of performance to be exploited, endowing the 207 with vast ground-covering capabilities.

So you can imagine our frustration with the long-throw and slow five-speed manual gearbox sampled on one 207 GT. On another example the transmission was significantly better, and far-more deserving of this excellent powerplant.

It seems that the old Peugeot bugbear of inconsistent manual gearboxes remains.

Oh well. This particular 1.6-litre low-blow turbo, unique to the French in 110kW format, happens to be the best petrol-engined vehicle that Peugeot has ever offered in Australia – better even than the deliciously perky 1.9-litre twin-cam unit found in the 405 Mi-16 Series 1.

Owners of that car – or indeed any recent Peugeot save for the similarly themed 407 Coupe – should be delighted at the progress the company has made in cabin styling and presentation.

At last, here is a French small car that finally balances interior design, execution and quality – the Citroen C4 appears far more progressive but it stumbles in the other two departments, for example.

The sampled 207 GT’s Italianesque cowled instrumentation binnacle looks very smart, with the racy slant of the three heavily chromed and white-faced dials.

The pleasing symmetry to the elfin-eared shaped ventilation outlets, completely redesigned trip computer fascia (that thankfully banishes the amateurish display Peugeot employs in other models), and solid – some might even say dense – feel of the dashboard prove that the company does listen to criticism of its more recent cabin efforts.

What we’re trying to say here is – wait for it – that, in sporty/luxury GT guise at least, the 207 might just have the most sassily presented light car interior going.

Now all we ask is that Peugeot builds it properly. Now that all are coming from France rather than England, we may yet wish for further miracles to occur.

Remembering that it has grown half a size up from the 206, space is another 207 virtue.

Four adults should find more than adequate room to revel in, aided by the considerable feeling of airiness offered by the vast windscreen and deep front side windows.

On the other hand the three-door hatchback’s upsweeping rear side window line might make some folk feel a little claustrophobic, although on the model sampled the glass did crack open in usual coupe style. Access to those rear seats is easy too, thanks to large door apertures and compliant front seat backs.

Speaking of which, the 207 appears to tick all the right boxes as far as occupant comfort and support, noise level suppression, switch and control clarity and reach, ventilation output, storage availability and luggage capacity are concerned.

And non-Mediterranean types please note: the driving position and pedal arrangement has been devised to include you too, something the 206 failed to achieve.

Up until now, the problem with light Peugeots is that they offered premier-league styling and dynamics with second-tier interiors and (petrol) engines.

The 207, in 1.6-litre petrol and turbo-diesel guises at least – promises to comprehensively change all that at last.

We cannot wait to drive the whole range on Australian roads – and that’s something we haven’t said about the company’s product since before the 306 arrived back in 1994.

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