The microvan sector may be fairly small in comparison to others – out of 327,000 vans sold in the UK last year, just 6,500 were in this class – but the manufacturers are nevertheless putting a great deal of effort into their new offerings.
And pretty smart they are too.
Earlier this year we saw the arrival of the new Vauxhall Corsavan to take on a very competent Ford Fiestavan that has been around for a few years now – and now we have this vehicle which is the replacement for the old 206 van.
In the pages of this very magazine not four months ago I described the Corsavan as king of the tiddlers but having driven the 207, now I’m not so sure.
The fact of the matter is that both vehicles are such worthy contenders that you couldn’t get a fag paper between them when deciding which is better.
Viewed from the front, the 207 could almost be a sports car.
Its wide grille and slash cut headlamps give the vehicle a chic, stylish look while inside the black and silver interior echoes the racy exterior.
The sporty pretensions continue with a high-mounted dash and seats which are slung low, with plenty of figure-hugging support.
The new 207 van boasts a range of three different engines – a 1.4-litre HDi common rail diesel with 70bhp on offer, a 1.6-litre HDi offering 90bhp and a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 75bhp.
Our test model featured the more powerful diesel unit.
The latter means that the new 207 van can be converted to run on LPG, allowing buyers not only to show their green credentials, but also to receive a 100% discount on the London congestion charge.
All the engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with ratios selected to match individual engine characteristics.
Standard specification is high for a van of this type, with driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS brakes and emergency brake assist (EBA) included in the basic price of between £7,995 and £9,295 ex-VAT.
Meanwhile, ESP traction control, the device which helps correct the vehicle in the event of a sideways skid, is available as an option at £350.
In the cab, standard spec includes electric front windows, adjustable steering column and a good quality radio/CD player, while options include cruise control with speed limiter at £127, air conditioning at £425, a five-disc CD autochanger at £195, full height bulkhead at £85 and a full length load cover at £46 (all prices ex-VAT).
An alarm adds a further £170.
In the rear end, the new 207 van will swallow 1.1 cubic metres of cargo, setting it ahead of the rival Ford Fiesta van, with a load volume of 1.0 cubic metres and the new Vauxhall Corsavan, which trails behind at 0.92 cubic metres.
Behind the wheel
Arriving at the Fleet Van offices with just 200 miles on the clock, the 207 van cut quite a dash in the car park.
As no-one had seen one before, quite a little crowd gathered round to admire this van’s good looks.
It’s a mark of how far van technology has come on recently – five years ago no-one would have given a commercial vehicle a second glance.
I’m always a little nervous of testing small vehicles because at a leggy 6ft 4in there is a fear that I might not actually fit in.
No such problems here.
The 207 has bags of legroom – so much so that I began wondering just how the designers had managed to fit so much into such a small space.
The seats are nice and big too with plenty of support under the thighs right down to the back of the knees, along with a excellent lumbar and side support which will keep the occupants in place on fast bends – more of which later.
Outside, there are side rubbing strips and two little protectors on the front corners but no wheelarch protection at all.
In the business end, the rear hatch opens to reveal a good square load bay with six load-lashing eyes and a half-height bulkhead, although there is a sizeable lip at the rear which means loads can’t simply be slid in and out.
However, there’s a wipe-clean floor and we’d definitely recommend that full-length load cover to stop prying eyes looking in at your valuable cargo.
The cab is a very smart place indeed, echoing the van’s car origins.
There are none of your cheap old plastic mats here – it’s all proper carpets and velour seats.
Cubby holes are understandably at a premium but there are at least two cup holders in the centre console.
The engine may have any had only delivery mileage when we tested it but there was none of that classic diesel tightness to it.
It pulled strongly and lustily – so much so that I’d be tempted to opt for the lower-powered variant if I was buying this van for shortish journeys.
The five-speed manual box proved slick and sure too, although the power-steering was a tad on the light side for my personal taste.
But what a delight the 207 proves on fast bends – it sticks the roads like glue and can be confidently thrown into corners at any speed you dare go.
My only gripe on this front is that the side mirrors could do with being a little bigger.
Peugeot claims amazing 62.8mpg fuel economy figure for the diesel versions, but you won’t achieve that with enthusiastic driving.
By virtue of its size, the 207 is never going to make it huge in the van world, which is a pity as it’s a cracking performer.
But anyone who has need for a vehicle that will carry no more than a few tools or a dog will be delighted with this vehicle’s style, practicality and performance.
|Gross vehicle weight (kg):||1,570||1.610||1,630|
|Load volume (cu m):||1.1||1.1||1.1|
|Fuel economy (mpg comb cycle):||44.8||62.8||62.8|