Executives at the French firm are banking on a blend of good looks and upmarket packaging to set their model apart in the fast-expanding market for small cars.
Peugeot’s fleet and leasing director Steve Harris said: ‘As the supermini segment continues to get bigger, customers have greater expectations and want their vehicles to give them more. This car is a high-level entry to the market and we’re confident it will do well.
‘Given that it is being introduced in addition to the 206, which has been the best-selling car in Europe for three of the last five years and will remain on sale, we should be hitting the ground running with the 207.’
At the head of one of the widest ranges of small cars on offer, the 207 represents a massive opportunity for Peugeot in both the fleet and retail sectors, he believes.
‘Massive compared with most of its rivals in the sector, the 207 has more interior space than the 306, our old model in the next segment up.
‘I don’t anticipate any problems in growing the proportion of registrations we achieve in a sales area that is tipped to keep on expanding.’
He added: ‘As we have plenty of evidence of downsizing in the fleet market, I’m particularly confident about our prospects because we are now able to offer a small car that has so many of the features that people have come to like in larger models.’
Initial supplies of the three and five-door line-up will be powered by six engines which are already familiar under the bonnets of car ranges from Peugeot, Citroen and Ford – 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol units and 1.4 and 1.6-litre HDi turbodiesels.
However, before the end of the year the 207 will become the first car available with an all-new range of advanced technology petrol engines which promise to deliver significant advances in power, performance and economy.
Jointly developed with the BMW Group, the 1,598cc high-pressure direct injection engines will come in two levels of tune, the first offering 115bhp and the second, boasting a twin-scroll turbo, producing 150bhp.
The biggest of Peugeot’s four separate ranges of small cars, the 207 is based on an extended version of PSA’s Platform 1 and breaks the traditional B-segment four-metre barrier by stretching to 4.03 metres in length.
That makes it 200mm longer than the 206 and, significantly, just 180mm shorter than its bigger brother, the 307. It is also wider than the 206 at 1.72m, but the car’s height is a lowish 1.47m.
According to 207 product manager Andrew Montague, looks matter in the small car segment, which now accounts for 35% of the total UK new car market.
He said: ‘Predictions that the sector will be taking around 40% of all sales in five years’ time suggest that appearances will become even more important. But levels of sophistication will become increasingly critical as buyers of smaller cars want more features, better technology, improved safety and higher comfort – all the things they expect from bigger cars.
‘We think the styling of this car will play a big role in maintaining residual values. The 206 is not obsolete, and it’s clear the 207 is derived from it, so we think people will appreciate the new car is a successor model.
‘And though decisions still have to be made regarding trim levels and the range of equipment, we will badge the entry-level car as ‘Urban’ and we’ll be giving each version an appearance that matches its character.
The 207 will be the firm’s first small model to make colours, as well as equipment, more closely related to trim levels. Comfort-oriented versions will be finished in classic, conservative shades while more vibrant hues will be reserved for sports models.
From the driving seat, it is immediately clear that Peugeot’s ultimate small car moves the B-segment game on by a considerable margin – but as well as achieving high levels of space, comfort and convenience, the ‘grown-up’ supermini promises to set the class standard for interior design and layout.
With its thermal-coated finish, the car’s sweeping, curvy fascia is a step up on the class-norm, instruments have a neat appearance and switchgear is well laid out.
Care seems to have been taken to avoid windscreen reflections and the 12-litre, air-conditioned glovebox has a damped-action lid. Fit and finish is excellent, and the 207 is the first car in its class to link its central air vents with a fragrance dispenser.
The luggage area, bigger than on the 206, has a full-size spare wheel under the floor. Steering has adjustment for height and reach and on most versions, the front passenger seat can be adjusted for height.
Five-star EuroNCAP safety is expected and six airbags are fitted to all models.
The 207 will go on sale in July and Peugeot aims to register 90,000 examples in the car’s first full year on the market. Coupe-cabriolet and SW versions will be unveiled in the next few months.