What is it?
The fastest car in Peugeot's newest supermini range, this is the new 207 GTI, which we've come to the twisting bitumen of the Col de Venice to sample. We are not expecting Peugeot to replicate the 205 GTI, for that is a totally unrealistic ask. Rather, we are hoping that the company can make amends for the very disappointing 206 GTI.
The badge on the back of this French registered 207 says RC, but ours won't say that. Also, UK cars will have a slightly different front bumper and sill skirts but, unfortunately, the same rather dull-looking alloys as this one.
The styling on the 207 GTI is a little bit dull overall. You get smoked rear and tailgate glass, a pair of serious-looking bucket seats, an alloy gear knob, alloy pedal covers and naff looking plastichrome rings on the dials. Perhaps I would be less critical if my transport to the airport in the UK hadn’t been the new Vauxhall Corsa VXR. The person who designed that car’s cabin obviously sleeps with a Demon Tweeks catalogue on his or her bedside table.
The 207 GTI's package looks more promising on paper, however. Instead of going for a large swept volume engine, Peugeot has downsized and fitted the 1.6-litre four cylinder that it developed in conjunction with BMW. It’s turbocharged with direct injection – which permits an efficient 10.5:1 compression ratio (the fuel enters the combustion chamber after the point at which pre-ignition would occur).
Maximum power is 175bhp at 6000rpm. There’s an overboost facility that boosts torque from the normal peak of 160lb ft to 195lb ft as long as you’re beyond second gear. Unlike the Vauxhall Corsa VXR’s system there’s no time limit for the overboost. Only five ratios live inside the gearbox which strikes me as a welcome victory for engineering over marketing.
What's it like?
There’s another technical detail in the gearbox that works particularly well on these roads and that’s a long first gear. It’s perfect for hairpins that are a bit too tight for second gear and too quick for a short first ratio. Also, the engine management lets you go 300rpm past the 6500rpm red line in first gear only, making first even longer.