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Peugeot 207 GT and GTI 2007 review

The French carmaker, in partnership with BMW, has developed a turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection to allow it to reduce engine size (as well as emissions and thirst) without sacrificing outputs and driveability.

The 1.6-litre turbo headlines a new range of light cars for Peugeot, which has sold more than 160,000 units since being introduced to its home market in April this year. In Australia, around February or March 2007, the new 207 will be offered in both petrol and diesel, but automatic variants are a way off.

Peugeot sales in Europe are 95 per cent manual, meaning automatic RHD cars will not be seen soon - especially given that Peugeot Australia took three years to convince the parent company it needed 307automatics to compete with the Golf.

The final Australian model line-up and pricing has not yet been finalised, but Peugeot is aiming to replicate the existing 206model breakdown: the 1.4-litre entry-level model arrives below $20,000, with the range stretching up to just above $31,000 for the turbocharged 1.6-litre 207 (which will probably wear a GT badge) driven in France.

A reduced and repositioned 206 range will remain part of the Peugeot pricelist into 2007, selling side-by-side with its replacement, but access to the superceded model will depend on its popularity in other markets, including China.

The full sports model, called the RC in France but likely to wear the GTi badge in Australia (say the French model designation aloud and you'll see why) and it will be powered by the 128kW 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that is shared with BMW Mini.

The GT's turbo will, however, be a Peugeot-only motor, but the rest of the range will be powered by either a 1.4 or 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine shared with BMW's Mini.

The Australian range will also launch with an 80kW turbodiesel 1.6-litre engine (with particle filter). The 1.4-litre models will be available with either five-speed manual gearbox, with 2-Tronic automatic to follow, while the 1.6-litre engine will be matched to either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

Crash tests in Europe (NCAP) have returned results that give the 207 a five-star occupant protection rating, a four-star child protection score and a three-star pedestrian impact rating.

The GT will only be available in a three-door and with a five-speed manual, and the RC/GTi model expected to offer a six-speed manual.

The GT will be fitted with ESP, tyre-pressure monitoring, full-length glass roof, cloth/leather trim and 17-inch alloy wheels. A full leather trim is likely to be an option but the satnav is not available - yet.

The GTi sports model seems certain to get a six-speed manual gearbox and an electronic stability control system that tolerates sportier driving and can be switched off.

The car was once renowned for a great ride-handling compromise but for some it had lost its way a little. But the 207 has renewed faith that the Peugeot brand has not lost its touch.

While the Peugeot reps were keen to point out that the 207 turbo was not an outright sporty (there's a full-sport GTi 180/RC to come yet), there is plenty to like about the engine and the underpinnings.

Sitting on 17-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero Nero rubber, the low-speed ride on small bumps could be a little noisy but once into stride, the rubber's coarseness mattered less as the level of grip overtook any noise complaint. The little 1.6-litre turbo motor is flexible and punchy through the mid-range, thanks to an abundance of torque from just above idle right through to near its peak power at 5800rpm.

Mated to a nice-shifting, five-speed manual, its ability to dawdle through little French villages in a high gear and then pull cleanly away was well above the norm for a small engine, turbo or otherwise.

Slinging the attractive but aggressive-looking little hatchback through a series of fast bends failed to find fault, the body well-controlled and brakes providing decent bite.

The electric power steering doesn't provide heaps of feel but the overall sensation from the driver's seat is one of capability in the curves. With the broad torque curve of the engine on offer, cornering can be achieved at pace without massive engine revs on board - dwell between 3000 and 5000rpm and there is plenty of urge on offer. The three-door has the glass roof and the cabin has an open, airy feel, thanks also to the distant dashboard.

The driving position - something of a bugbear in the current model - has been improved, with the pedal layout in particular a much better effort. The seats (cloth centre trim with leather bolsters) are comfortable as well as being supportive.

With fuel economy a major selling point at the small end of the market, the new 207 does look to have plenty on offer, with the small turbocharged direct-injection powerplant returning 10.2L/100km on the launch drive in southwestern France, despite hunting along motorways at 130km/h-plus, and pushing it hard along some windy, hilly stretches as well.

Peugeot Australia plans to freight in a 207 for the Sydney motor show before its 2007 launch.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

CC 1.6 1.6L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,999 – 6,990 2007 Peugeot 207 2007 CC 1.6 Pricing and Specs
CC 1.6 GT 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $6,400 – 9,900 2007 Peugeot 207 2007 CC 1.6 GT Pricing and Specs
GT 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $3,000 – 5,170 2007 Peugeot 207 2007 GT Pricing and Specs
GTi 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $4,990 – 6,490 2007 Peugeot 207 2007 GTi Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist