Being in your 20s is a great time of life; responsibility is minimal and style and character are all important. For Peugeot the number 20 has always had importance too with its “20¦” series vehicles accounting for almost 30% of total production. It all kicked off with the Peugeot 201 back in 1929 which was the first mass produced car to be fitted with automatic windscreen wipers. In 1965 Peugeot released the 204 with a Pininfarina body design. In 1983 the 205 followed and went on to huge success in sales and motorsport with many crediting it for saving the French automaker from financial ruin. But it’s the more recent 206 that boasts the most total sales with more than 5.5 million units sold. That brings us up to the current Peugeot 207 that has received a recent facelift for 2009. So far, the 207 hasn’t dazzled like some of its ancestors but is the latest Peugeot 20-something model set for a turnaround in fortunes? Car and SUV jumped inside the updated Pug to find out.
The 207 is offered in NZ with two petrol engines and a diesel unit, our tested vehicle was the mid-spec 207 XT. Packed under the stubby bonnet is Peugeot’s 1.6-litre, 16-valve power plant that produces 88kW of power and 160Nm of maximum torque. While it never threatens to snap your head off, it’s a spirited engine that has no issues in shifting the 207 around town. It’s easy to stay up to speed in urban centres, but for open road overtaking manoeuvres the 207 requires room, as mid-range grunt isn’t its strongest suit. That said, if you’re heavy with the go-pedal the baby Peugeot can be kept at a brisk pace around the speed limit.
Matched up to a 4-speed automatic transmission the 207 returns a respectable fuel economy figure of 7.0l/100km on the combined cycle. But unfortunately it’s the auto transmission that is the weak point of the 207 drive train. The automated changes are sluggish in both moving up and chopping down, steering wheel paddles are available to take manual control of the shifts and while using them helps it removes the main reason for driving an auto. Even with gentle action on the accelerator pedal the 207 gearbox self-shifts in a lazy and raw manner making smooth driving difficult.
There may be weak points in the 207 power train but it’s hard to find them in terms of handling and ride. On twisted roads the 207 really excels with a well-balanced chassis and a clever suspension set-up that minimises body roll and aides determined grip. The 15-inch wheels shod in 185/65 tyres seldom slip and the 207’s wide track make for competent handling on even the most windy of Kiwi roads. Handling prowess doesn’t come at the cost of ride comfort and a longish wheelbase helps smooth progress over bumps and dips in the road. The 207’s electronic assisted power-steering functions well and serves up a firm communicative feel when driving at pace but lightens up for tight moves and parking.
In terms of looks the 207 may not be as bold a statement that the 206 once was but there‘s no doubt it’s a distinctive and stylish vehicle. Peugeot’s corporate face sits prominently out front with its large ‘Lion in combat’ badge that pushes into a sweptback windscreen and pinches off at the back with a chunky C-pillar. The facelift sees new LED lights at the rear and an increased use of chrome detailing. Overall, it’s a fluid modern look that threatens to polarize opinion but is sure to win followers.
In the cabin, upgrades have been made to the trim detail and the instrument panel resulting in a pleasant environment. Black plastics are broken up by contrasting silver trim in what’s a basic but well laid out dashboard. A high-mounted multi-function display screen gives car info and the silver-ringed instruments look sharp and are easily read. The stereo could give more kick but can be controlled by a wand mounted behind the steering wheel; this is an effective and surprisingly easy set up to get used to. Other interior tricks include one-touch electric windows, a pollen filtered air con system, and an air-conditioned glove box. The 207 offers excellent space for a B-segment vehicle and there is decent room between front occupants and good storage space in the hatch for luggage. The seats are firm and bolstered and offer a range of adjustments, as does the steering wheel, making it easy to get comfortable. Finished in a black cloth trim the 207 interior is more purposeful than fun but care has gone into the ergonomics and general build quality is sound.
Safety systems on the 207 include six airbags, ABS brakes and an Electronic Stability Program. The backseat has a sash seatbelt for the middle occupant and pretensioners on the front belts. These features helped the 207 score 5 stars in Euro NCAP testing.
So what’s the bottom line on Peugeot’s latest 20-something model? Well, it’s not perfect, the engine could have more go for a 1.6 and the auto transmission is found wanting. But what it does well, it does very well. Its handling is assured and entertaining and its style attractive and distinctive. The 207 may not be as youthful and fun as its 205 and 206 ancestors but its maturity brings practical value in the form of a spacious, liveable cabin and strong safety credentials for a sub $30k vehicle.
You can’t scream around forever and the 207 marks a new era of responsibility for Peugeot’s 20-series vehicles, but is that what enthusiasts and potential buyers really want? Give it a test drive and decide for yourself.
Click through to the next page for a list of specifications
What we like:
- Distinctive Styling
- Nimble handling
- Spacious interior
What we don’t like:
- Good car ruined by a sluggish auto transmission
- Could use more power
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
Peugeot 207 XT (2009) – Specifcations
1.6 litre, 16 valve, VTi, 4 cylinder petrol engine
Cubic capacity (cc) 1598
Max power kW (HP) @ rpm 88 (120) @ 6000
Max torque (Nm @ rpm) 160 @ 4250
Emission control Catalytic converter
Emission standard EURO 4
Emission of CO2 by weight 167gms
WHEELS AND TYRES
Size 185/65 R15
Spare tyre Full size
Front ventilated with sliding calipers
Rear brake drums with automatic wear adjustment
Front Independent McPherson type, helical springs and hydraulic dampers, set to operating pressure of 5 bars
Rear Rear Torsion beam, helical springs and hydraulic dampers set to an operating pressure of 5 bars
Length (mm) 4030
Width (mm) with mirrors 1972
Height (mm) 1472
WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES
Kerb weight (kg) 1321
Braked trailer towing weight (kg) 1150
Unbraked trailer towing weight (kg) 600
Fuel Tank (l) 50
Turning circle between kerbs (m) 10.6
City Cycle l/100km 9.8
Highway cycle l/100km 5.5
Combined l/100km 7.0
Remote central locking
Rolling code transponder immobiliser
Visible VIN number
Security coded in-car entertainment
Lockable glove box
Auto-lock doors/boot over 10 km (selectable)
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Internal operated central door locking
One-touch electric windows with anti-pinch (front)
Electrically operated door mirrors
Radio / CD Player
Steering wheel mounted remote controls
Combined active carbon/pollen ï¬ lter
Front & rear door storage bins
Luggage cover / boot shelf
Shopping bag hooks in boot
Side strap in boot
12V plug row 1
Front fog lights
Rear fog lights
Intermittent rear wash/wipe