26 August 2006
Most carmakers are content to offer one small car to their customers - maybe two if you count sub-supermini 'city cars'. Not Peugeot. By June 8 it will have four - the 107, 1007, 206 and the 207. Why?
The 107 is the city car, the 1007 an electric sliding-door high-roof curio and the 206, the high-selling if flawed supermini fleet staple. But unlike previous Peugeot history, the 207 doesn't replace the 206. Like recent moves at
with Punto and Grande Punto, Peugeot plans to continue selling both cars alongside each other indefinitely.
Peugeot says the 206 will remain a first family car for the 107 customer to aspire to while the 20cm longer 207 will be the "grown up car for families looking for safe, stylish fun". Oh I see now...I think.
All fleets need to know is that the 206's range will be pared back to two trim levels and will be aimed more at retail than fleet.
But to the new car. The 207's extra length adds up to 150kg in weight too. Break the figure down, and 60kg relates to new safety, 40kg to size, 25 to comfort (sound-proofing and insulation) and 25 to quality materials. Are the benefits tangible?
The 207 has excellent NCAP safety protection credentials - five stars for adult occupants (versus the 206's four), four for child occupants (206 - n/a) and three for pedestrians (206 - three). Cabin material quality is much higher in all trim levels over the equivalent 206 and outside noise is well suppressed. But all this comes at a price as the engines to power the 207 are the same as the 206's.
This results in all but the 110PS 1.6 diesel feeling 'underpowered-to-gutless', depending on the engine output.
Two forthcoming units developed with BMW (and destined for the new Mini) should help. A 150PS 1.6 petrol arrives in October and a 115PS 1.6 replacing the current 110PS 1.6 comes in early 2007.
Beyond the engines, the electrically-assisted steering feels reasonable if slightly detached and
artificial, gearbox occasionally notchy, ride decent and handling fine, if not class-leading. The driving position including pedals felt fine to this 6'1" driver helped by now standard rake and reach steering wheel - but we'll have to wait and see how the right-hand drive models 'translate'.
Interior room all round is up on the 206 and the full length sunroof makes the space feel more airy still. While rear headroom is good, legroom is only okay if you put knees either side of the front seat. Further body styles - SW and CC plus auto transmission, stop/start technology and finally a 172PS 1.6 GTi will boost the range in 2007 but meantime, stick to the 110PS diesel or wait for the new BMW petrols.