So, with development costs of a billion Euros, this hatch has some big shoes to fill. Of course, the best way to fill big shoes is to have big feet, and the 207 has a sizeable footprint. It’s bigger in every way than the 206, jutting out further by 200mm in length, 65mm in width and 56mm in height.
The styling was tackled by Peugeot’s in-house design team, and brings the new family look to a design clearly reminiscent of the 206.
While the basic shape is recognisable, the lights have grown and the gaping ‘mouth’ grille found on the larger 407 has been brought across in two different guises. The Classic look has a less prominent nose and plain black grille, while the Sport model features chrome-lashed foglamps and a silver waffle-like grille.
Although comparisons to the 206 are natural, the older car will still be produced. Peugeot intends to scale back high-specification 206s and market the car as a budget option, with the 207 serving those looking for a bit more.
Buyers picking up a 207 at launch will be able to choose from six different engines. Entry-level petrol power comes courtesy of a 75bhp 1.4-litre unit, with a claimed combined fuel consumption of 44.8mpg. Another 1.4-litre with a 16-valve head ups the power to 90bhp and 98lb-ft torque, while the 1.6-litre will pack 110bhp and 108lb-ft.
The diesel options follow similar lines. A 1.4-litre HDi produces 70bhp, while a 1.6-litre HDi block produces either 90bhp and 110bhp. Being diesel engines, they all pack more torque. The 1.6-litre 110bhp version also has an ‘overboost’ feature that will increase torque from 177lb-ft to 192lb-ft should you plant your right foot to the floor.
New engines will be introduced towards the end of 2006, including a 150bhp 1.6 turbo petrol unit produced in association with BMW.
Rumours are also circulating of a 175bhp version, and perhaps even a more powerful hot hatch to rival the likes of the new Honda Civic Type-R.
The interior of the 206 came in for some stick because of a lack of quality, so the 207 has had a total overhaul. A brand new arcing dashboard takes pride of place up front, with chromed or silver instrument surrounds housed under a curved binnacle. All new plastics have been used and plenty of storage space has been dotted around the car.
The base-level Urban trim features electric windows, reach and rake adjustable steering and CD player. The S adds air-conditioning, electric mirrors and a trip computer, while the five-door-only SE adds a full-length sunroof.
The Sport brings in 16-inch alloys, sports front seats and leather steering wheel, while the range-topping GT adds goodies galore. Shell out the (as yet unannounced) asking price and Peugeot will throw in an directional headlights, ESP, tyre pressure sensors, automatic headlights and wipers and 17-inch alloys.
Peugeot hopes to sell around 32,000 units by the end of 2006. In the first full year, that number will rise to 75,000, of which 30% will be fleet sales.
It expects strong support from public service fleets, such as the NHS. User-choosers are also expected to be keen.
The bulk of cars expected to sell on these shores will be petrol-powered, with the 1.4-litre 16-valve making up 37% of total sales. Only 30% of buyers are likely to go for the diesel option, mainly the 90bhp 1.6 HDi.
Behind the wheel
WITH memories of the horribly plasticky 206 interior lurking in my mind, the 207 cockpit was a pleasant surprise.
Build quality is light years ahead of its predecessor, with a motorcycle-inspired instrument panel and a nicely-textured soft-touch dash. The plastics get harder lower down in the car, but are all put together well and everything feels solid.
Peugeot continues its tradition of great seats, especially in the Sport model. They’re both supportive and comfortable, and with reach and rake-adjustable steering on all models, allow 207 drivers to find their ideal driving position.
I tried the 1.6-litre 110bhp petrol engine first, and was dis-appointed. Even at the high-end of the rev range it feels lethargic, making the driver work hard. It might lose 20bhp to its big brother, but the 1.4 petrol-engined 207 is a much more coherent car. The engine is smoother and while not blisteringly quick is nippy and smooth enough to make driving enjoyable.
The pick of the cars on offer was the 1.6 HDi 110bhp diesel. It’s nice and refined, smooth under acceleration and with plenty of low-down torque. While it may be slightly noisier at higher revs than its petrol siblings, it never feels like it is being worked as hard.
While the old 206 had electric and hydraulic power steering, the 207 goes fully electric and feels good. At slow speeds around town the wheel is light enough to be spun with one finger, but get out into the twisty bits and it firms up, providing more than enough feedback.
The hairpin-packed mountain roads of Mallorca formed the test route during a rainy week in the Mediterranean and as a result grip was at a premium. The safety conscious will be glad to know that the ABS and ESP are quick to correct any slides.
PEUGEOT has taken on board criticisms levelled at the 206 and responded accordingly. Prices have yet to be confirmed, but if they turn out to be competitive we expect the 207 to do well. The 1.6 HDi and 1.4 petrol engines are strong, and the future engines planned should keep the latest French small hatch going strong for some time.
|Model:||1.4||1.4 16v||1.6||1.4 HDi||1.6 HDi||1.6 HDi overboost|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||75/5,400||90/5,250||110/5,800||70/4,000||90/4,000||110/4,000|
|Max torque (lb.ft/rpm):||90/3,300||98/3,250||108/4,000||118/2,000||158/1,750||177/1,750|
|Max speed (mph):||104||112||121||103||113||120|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||44.8||44.1||40.3||62.7||62.7||58.8|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||150||152||166||120||120||126|
|Prices (est):||from £9,000|