In Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood may as well have handed the keys of a used Peugeot 207 GTi to the criminal lying before him on the ground as suggest he weigh up the possibility of him having a sixth bullet in his Magnum. Do all the pre-purchase checks you like but, ultimately, whether the Peugeot’s timing chain is about to slip, taking the engine with it, is simply a matter of luck.
It’s all to do with the hydraulic chain tensioner fitted to the model’s Prince engine. You hear it first as a rattle from cold. As the oil heats up and circulates, it fades away, leaving you to think it wasn’t anything serious until one day… crunch: you and your bargain 207 GTi are friends no more.
And it is a bargain. Just £800 is all you need for a weary 2007-reg 207 GTi, and £2500 should be enough for something clean and straightforward with a good service history. The most expensive ones are around £3000 but we did come across a 2009-reg Octane special edition with 67,000 miles and described as being in mint condition for a bullish £4750.
The last ones were registered in 2009, so given that the model was launched in 2007, you’ve only three years’ worth of used 207 GTis to pick over, although those built from 2008 have, according to mechanics who work on them, better chain tensioners. They have better cylinder heads, too. Worryingly, earlier ones were prone to shedding alloy flakes into the engine.
Otherwise, the Prince engine is a gamey lump. It may have only 1.6 litres, but thanks to its twin-scroll turbocharger, it produces 175bhp. Not only that but it also generates a handy 180lb ft torque that can be over-boosted to 195lb ft. Either way, the turbocharger starts working from as low as 1000rpm. All that muscle and the gearbox still has only five gears but they’re well chosen and, in any case, the engine thrives on revs.