PEUGEOT’S new 207 GT THP warm hatch is not a particularly fleety car, a few user choosers apart, which is just as well because the firm doesn’t want to sell any more fleet cars.
Instead, it wants to pull away from fleet sales and do more profitable retail business.
In the UK, fleet sales account for about half of Peugeot’s total car registrations, a level with which managing director Pierre Louis Colin says he is not entirely comfortable.
Speaking at the launch of the 150bhp 207 GT THP Colin said: ‘Our objective in the long term will be 70-30% retail to fleet. We have decided to pull back on fleet sales because they are more expensive for us.’
That’s going to be quite a trick to pull off. At the moment Peugeot is up 21% in fleet year-on-year at nearly 62,000 units, and down 15% in the retail market to 56,000.
Taking those figures as an example, hitting that 70-30 split would mean shipping an awfully large number of fleet vehicles (36,000) – and finding a lot of new retail buyers – about 25,000.
The GT THP 150, to give it its full name (THP stands for turbo high pressure), is likely to be one of Peugeot’s much lusted-after retail buys.
It is the precursor to a 175bhp GTi version of the 207, which should be on sale by next spring.
Back to the present though, the GT THP is powered by the first of the new family of engines resulting from a collaboration between PSA Peugeot-Citroen and BMW. The same unit is used in the new MINI Cooper.
It’s a 1.6 litre twin-cam unit with a 16-valve cylinder head and variable valve timing. A key feature of the engine is its twin-scroll turbocharger, designed to reduce turbo lag by separating the exhaust pulses in from the cylinders in pairs, so they don’t interfere with each other and sap the energy available to drive the turbocharger.
The GT THP’s engine is French-built, at PSA’s Douvrin factory, from where the parts to make the MINI Cooper version are shipped to BMW’s Hams Hall plant in Birmingham.
In the MINI, the Cooper badge tells you what to expect, but Peugeot’s hot hatch strategy is different. There is nothing on the outside of this higher-performance 207 to let you know what it is, or that it is any different from the rest of the 207 range.
So the focus is on driving pleasure, with no concession to scoring corporate brownie points in the company car park. It’s Peugeot’s view that while there is still a place in the range for sporty models, they need to be discreet and not advertise their presence on the road.
Peugeot is doing well with the 207 range – for which this new version will be a ‘halo’ model – and feels vindicated by its decision to continue with the 206 alongside its successor.
PSA chief executive Frederic Saint Geours said at the GT THP’s launch that the wisdom of this had been confirmed by a 16% increase in its sales across Europe in the 207’s market sector.
‘Renault launched the Clio 3 and kept Clio 2, Fiat launched Grande Punto and kept Punto, and in the same way our dual strategy offer in this segment is a working.’
The GT THP goes on sale next month, priced at £14,345, which seems expensive, especially compared to the similarly-powered Fiesta ST, although the GT THP is better specced.
But add in the fact that the ST would be worth 39% of its value new after three years/60,000 miles and the GT 34% according to CAP, and Peugeot may have its work cut out attracting user choosers to the car.
But then, perhaps it doesn’t want to anyway.
Behind the wheel
THE lack of any external visual clues that this is a sportier 207 tends to dull your expectation of a lively experience behind the wheel. So the character it exudes comes as a pleasant surprise, and after the first few bends you find a smile erupting. It’s a fun drive.
My regular daily transport is a hard-used 207 GT HDi 110, and I expected the THP 150 to be a similar experience, just a bit magnified. Actually it feels rather different, not in a way you’d notice along a motorway, but on a winding country road it impresses as even more grippy and willing with slightly more fluid handling than the turbodiesel.
It is also just a little more poised over a coarse surface, which is where the HDi’s suspension can make the ride feel just a bit niggly. This one’s revised settings and recalibrated dampers seem to absorb the bumps slightly better.
The engine has a wide rev range and feels lively and flexible through the gears. It has an agreeable, mildly sporty sound. On a fun-for-the-price scale, it rates a high score.
Model: 1.6 GT THP 150
Max power (bhp/rpm): 150/5,800
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 180/1,400
Max speed (mph): 131
0-62mph (secs): 8.7 Fuel consumption (mpg): 40.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 166
On sale: November
Price (OTR): £14,345