For a 175bhp turbocharged hot hatch, Peugeot’s new 207 GTi succeeds in hiding its light under a bushel.
From the outside it doesn’t look as sporty and aggressive as, say, a Vauxhall Corsa VXR. Peugeot has eschewed the bulges and bodykit approach and is marketing its new range-topping 207 as a more subtle choice.
I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing. To my mind, if you choose a hot hatch you want to be noticed and, more importantly, you want to let other drivers know that you’re packing some serious hardware.
To the uninitiated, the GTi looks pretty much like a common-or-garden 207.
At least it can’t be accused of not having the oomph to live up to its looks. Under the GTi’s bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 175bhp.
Developed jointly with BMW and also finding a home under the bonnet of the MINI Cooper S, the GTi has a top speed of 137mph and accelerates from 0-62mph in a fraction over seven seconds.
But those bare figures don’t tell the whole story of the 207’s driving experience, because the turbocharged engine has a broad spread of power and plenty of torque available from lower down in the rev range.
It means, for example, that third gear acceleration from slow speeds is easy, with no need to downchange to get the engine into its powerband – something you learn to do quickly in the Clio Renaultsport 197.
On the move the 207 displays fine balance, with a chassis which blends comfort with a sporting edge.
Cornering and fast direction changes are handled with ease, with the GTi remaining flat and composed.
The balance is so good that the traction control system rarely intervenes, with the GTi able to channel its power through the front wheels with little fuss or wheelspin.
There’s also been some welcome attention paid to the feel of the car, with a much firmer action for the five-speed manual gearbox and more weight added into the steering rack.
Inside, there are several gains over the old 206 GTi, with more space, a higher level of equipment and a better quality feel to the materials used. But again, it looks too much like a cooking 207, apart from a set of gorgeous high-winged bucket sports seats which look like they’ve been lifted straight out of a rally car.
Where the 207 GTi does score is on paper, with a competitive front-end price which undercuts the Corsa VXR and Clio 197.
Although it can’t match these two in looks and outright performance, the GTi does a good job of finding the middle ground.
If it looked more overtly sporty then it would be close to being the ideal all-round package.
P11D value: £15,180
CO2 emissions (g/km): 171
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 21%
Graduated VED rate: £165
Insurance group: 15
Combined mpg: 39.2
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £5,050/33%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £285
Three rivals to consider
Four superhot superminis, offering between 170 and 197bhp and bags of attitude thanks to aggressive looks. The Ibiza appears good value at the front-end with 180bhp from its turbocharged engine. The Clio is the most expensive, but also the most powerful with 197bhp.
Emissions and taxes
With its substantial CO2 emissions advantage the 207 offers the lowest tax bills, costing a 22% taxpayer £58 a month in benefit-in-kind tax. The SEAT’s front-end price advantage puts it second on £66 a month, compared with £70 for the Corsa and £75 for the Clio.
With 20,000-mile service intervals the Peugeot is the cheapest in SMR terms, and is also likely to be easier on tyres and brakes. The Corsa is equally cheap on garage rates, but is more hardcore than the 207 and is likely to work its way through more rubber.
207: 3.50 (pence per mile) £2,100 (60,000 miles total)
Ibiza: 4.66 £2,796
Corsa: 4.72 £2,832
Clio 5.05 £3,030
For a 175bhp hot hatch the Peugeot is surprisingly efficient, returning a claimed 39.2mpg on the combined cycle. The Corsa is next on 35.8mpg, followed by the SEAT on 35.3mpg. The Clio is the only non-turbo car here and is bottom for fuel costs, returning 33.6mpg.
207: 11.25 (pence per mile) £6,750 (60,000 miles total)
Corsa: 12.33 £7.398
Ibiza 12.50 £7,500
Clio 13.13 £7,878
The Vauxhall holds on to its value the best, with CAP estimating it will retain 40% of cost new after three years/60,000 miles. The SEAT retains 35%, but its much lower list price secures it second spot. The Clio will retain 37% and the Peugeot a disappointing 33%.
Corsa: 15.65 (pence per mile) £9,390 (60,000 miles total)
Ibiza: 15.90 £9,540
Clio: 16.77 £10,062
207: 17.09 £10,254
Despite being the worst for depreciation, the 207 wins the running costs section thanks to table-topping performances in the fuel and SMR costs sections. The Corsa runs it close in second, thanks mainly to its excellent performance in the depreciation section.
207: 31.84 (pence per mile) £19,104 (60,000 miles total)
Corsa: 32.70 £19,620
Ibiza: 33.06 £19,836
Clio: 34.95 £20,970
On paper the Peugeot is hard to beat, offering company car drivers the lowest benefit-in-kind tax bills and companies the lowest running costs over three years/60,000 miles.
It’s also a great car to drive, although it lacks the outright pace and visual impact of the bruising Corsa VXR.
For that reason alone, victory goes to the Vauxhall – it’s the epitome of a fun, fast supermini and isn’t too far behind the 207 in terms of running costs and driver taxation. Higher running costs scupper the challenge of both the SEAT and Renault in this comparison.