Peugeot 1007

Is this Peugeot's magic number? The French firm is looking to take a bigger slice of the supermini market with the 1007, based on the innovative S�same concept that showcased its electric sliding doors at the Paris Motor Show in 2002.

With buyers demanding more flexibility and competence from small cars, the 1007 has a tough job. The sliding doors provide obvious benefits, but convincing potential buyers of the advantages and reliability of the system is crucial to its success. Unique looks give the car a boost in terms of desirability, but with entry-level versions at £10,850, most might find themselves better served by a conventional family hatchback, such as the Ford Focus.

Is this Peugeot's magic number? The French firm is looking to take a bigger slice of the supermini market with the 1007, based on the innovative S�same concept that showcased its electric sliding doors at the Paris Motor Show in 2002.

Pitched into a competitive class, the 1007's shape and size instantly demand attention. At 3.73 metres long, it is shorter than the 206, but has a huge interior. Large headlights, a dominant Peugeot badge and gaping grille seem oversized, giving it a toy-like look. At the rear, the tail-lamps blend neatly into the sloping C-pillar. It all makes the 1007 stand out from rivals.

The sliding doors are vast, spanning virtually the entire distance between the wheels when closed, and making entering and exiting the cabin easy once open. There's a high seating position, and with a short driver it's possible to access the rear seats without tilting the backrest. Once open, the doors do not extend much beyond the rear of the car, and only protrude the width of the door mirrors by one centimetre - perfect for getting in and out in tight parking spaces.

Opening the doors is easy, too. The remote key fob has two buttons to unlock and slide them automatically. Inside and out, the system is backed up by a weighty handle which will do the job electrically. The whole process of opening or closing the doors takes only five seconds, while for safety's sake, the mechanism stops and retreats if an object is caught in the gap between the door and pillar.

With the base of the windscreen set far forward and a large glass area, the cabin feels spacious. Although it's a strict four-seater, passengers get plenty of head and legroom, and the rear seats slide and fold, while the front passenger one has a flat back for use as a table. The standard Cameleo kit allows the owner to swap seat covers, door trims and facia panels. As well as 1.4-litre petrol and diesel options, the 1007 is available with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which comes with the 2-Tronic semi-automatic gearbox.

Similar to the Citroen C2's SensoDrive, this has a gearlever and steering column-mounted paddles. In automatic mode it changes gear with little hesitation.

Flick the lever or one of the paddles and it moves into manual mode for 12 seconds - useful for overtaking or descending hills. Full manual mode allows you to extract maximum performance, which is a match for rivals.

The ride is reasonable, although the short wheelbase prevents it from smoothing out bumps as well as the 206, while the electric power-steering is light and accurate. Given the 1007's novelty value, it's hard to tell what UK buyers will make of it. What's certain, though, is that drivers won't be short on space in a class driven by practicality.

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