The driving position – an old 206 failing – is good in the left-hookers too, so there’s hope for right-drivers.
Mechanically the 207 is a mix of old and new. It rides on a fresh platform, and has new suspension too – MacPherson strut up front, and a twist beam axle at the rear, a cost-saving solution that may compromise the Peugeot’s manners.
The initial range of engines is familiar, starting with a 75bhp 1.4 and running to 90bhp and 110bhp 1.6s, these all petrol. At the end of the year a sophisticated new 1.6 petrol, developed in collaboration with BMW – which appears to have done most of the engineering and will use it in the next Mini – will appear, in 115bhp, 150bhp and 171bhp outputs, the last two turbos.
Diesels include a 70bhp 1.4 HDi, and 90bhp and 110bhp 1.6 HDis. All these drive through five-speed boxes, but the new 1.6 petrol will be available with a six-speeder.
Besides the upgraded trim and generally better quality levels, the 207 is available with many more big car features, including a fragrance dispenser, colour-screen sat-nav, a large, fixed-pane glass roof, an excellent JBL hi-fi system, cruise control, tyre pressure sensors, dual zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity.
The question, though, is whether this 207 is a whole lot better to drive than the 206, and whether it recaptures some of the verve of the old 205.
What’s it like?And the answer is yes. It’s a heap better than the 206, and despite its theoretically cruder rear suspension, it handles with more aplomb too. But first of all, you’ll notice that you can get comfortable, and that you’re not sitting in surroundings that continually remind you that you bought a budget car.
The 207’s cabin is not as colourful as the new Punto’s can be, but it’s decent place to be. Couple that with pretty good refinement, plenty of room up front (it’s a little confined in the rear), satisfyingly deft handling and precise steering (despite the slightly numbing fitment of electric power steering) and you have a car that’s quite entertaining. too. Not as much fun as the 205, it’s true, but then it’s not going to spin you off the road if get it wrong in the middle of a hard-charge bend, either.
We suspect a ride that might get choppy on British roads, though – it’s quite tightly damped. Overall, then, it’s a good effort, this 207, even if it’s far from revolutionary.
Should I buy one?Like the new Punto and Clio, the 207 has advanced the supermini on plenty of fronts, but only in half steps. So it may yet be bettered by the Fiat, the Renault or the excellent Honda Jazz in Autocar’s group test. But it will be close. And there’s no question that it’s a vastly better car than the 206. Which should make it a good, safe buy.