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207 Touring creates a class of its own

There's not much difference between the 207 and the Touring other than the extra space.

Goodness knows what to call Peugeot's new baby, the 207 Touring.

But call it clever, because it manages to be slightly more roomy than a typically petite hatchback, only slightly dearer (at $28,990 for the petrol four-speed automatic and $29,790 for the diesel five-speed manual) and just as enjoyable to drive.

It's difficult to know which pigeonhole to park it in. This latest addition to the French car maker's family — joining five-door hatchback and convertible versions in the 207 range — is certainly a handy little thing.

Plus it looks interesting, in a funky way. When the French stylists stretch a slick hatchback into a semi-wagon, as they have done here, the result doesn't look like it was whipped up as an afterthought.

Instead, there is no shortage of flair about its creases, curves and angles.

Practical, too. It has more luggage space (plus extra leg and headroom for back-seat passengers) due to an extended rear end.

Peugeot has already applied Touring badges to members of its larger 307 and 407 ranges, but those are close enough to being conventional station wagons. Not so the new 207 Touring, based on the 207 hatchback but given a higher roof plus a longer, taller, and squarer rump.

Though its vertical tail bears more than a passing resemblance to the back end of cars such as the Mercedes A-Class, Honda Jazz and Mitsubishi Colt (and everyone thinks of them as hatchbacks) the 207 Touring somehow comes across as a refreshing original.

It is not surprising, since many European brands seem to have mastered the knack of creating crossbreed vehicles that aren't exactly SUVs or people movers, wagons, hatches or coupes, but combine some features of each class, searching for a niche of their own.

The result in the 207's case isn't huge, just slightly more roomy than its hatchback brother.

It offers more space than the hatchback, though the Touring is only $800 dearer and 14kg heavier, with the same turning circle and fuel consumption.

Pretty much a win-win proposition; the driver gets a panoramic view of the world behind, and rear passengers fare better than in a 207 hatchback, enjoying a more elevated seating position.

Also, the Touring's back seat is a different design to the hatchbacks, much easier to fold down. No need to tip the bottom cushion out of the way here — it slides forward automatically.

The Touring is fitted with a big glass sunroof, which is a $1000 option in its otherwise-similarly-equipped 207 XT hatchback.

There are several SUVs that offer more room and all-wheel-drive for around the same price as the 207 Touring, but it can counter with its chic Euro style and first-rate dynamics. Some people will find its compactness a virtue, and small size in this case means small thirst.

It comes with a choice of 1.6 litre, four-cylinder engines — a petrol unit with automatic transmission, or a diesel with a manual gearbox.