We first suspected it with the Renault Clio, and the Peugeot 207 confirmed it: French hatchbacks have grown up. We know why: times change and manufacturers must adapt. The safety demands made of superminis are now so great that, if you’re going to achieve five precious EuroNCAP crash test stars, extra weight is hard to avoid.
But it’s still a shame that Peugeot hasn’t built a car that’s fun to drive. While the 207 is safe and reasonably easy on the eye, it’s dynamic performance is acceptable but dull. The car is easy- but forgettable-to-drive; competent but uninvigorating. And while that may not be a problem for so many supermini buyers, for those who flock to buy French cars in the hope of getting that certain disarming motive charm of old, it’ll come as a disappointment. The simple fact is, a Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2 or Suzuki Swift makes a much more zesty drive than a 207.
Peugeot must at once be congratulated and criticized on the 207’s execution. While this car is a big step forward compared to the plasticky and palpably unpleasant 206 in terms of the material quality of its cabin, it’s still entirely unexceptional. Other superminis offer much livelier and more tactile driving environments. And with the likes of the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris injecting added practicality into the segment, Peugeot must not rest on its laurels the next time it lays out a compact cabin like this. Conventional no longer cuts it in this department.