Those after driveability, road presence, plus affordability should look at the Peugeot 207 GT HDi
Has Peugeot's expertise in hot hatches and diesels created the ultimate driver's supermini? The answer isn't as simple as we hoped. On the one hand, the 207 GT looks impressive, offers decent pace and is competitively priced. Yet some petrol-engined rivals are almost as cheap and produce nearly 200bhp, so the diesel feels underpowered. However, drivers who want a blend of driveability, road presence and affordability should consider the GT HDi.
You don't have to look too far back into the motoring history books to realise that when it comes to building great hot hatches and powerful diesels, Peugeot has few rivals.
From the 205 GTi onwards, its pocket rockets are the stuff of legend, while even big players such as Ford and BMW have tapped into its knowledge of oil-burners. So, why has it taken Peugeot so long to combine the two?
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Peugeot 207
It's an impossible question to answer, but the good news is that the 207 GT is available with an impressive diesel, and it's on sale now.
On paper, though, the new model's performance figures are unlikely to set the pulse racing. With the 0-60mph sprint taking 10.1 seconds and a top speed of 120mph, there's a distinct shortage of straight-line punch compared to class rivals.
At least the newcomer looks the part, with neat alloy wheels, a bodykit and a full-length panoramic sunroof. Inside, the glass top gives the car a light and airy feel, the switchgear is logically laid out, and the chrome-rimmed instrument dials back up the GT's sporty exterior design.
Fire up the engine, and the harsh diesel rattle is a little disappointing, but under acceleration, the 1.6-litre HDi unit soon smooths out. Power delivery is even, and there's a useful amount of torque from low revs - so despite the fact that the 207 only has a five-speed manual gearbox, progress through the ratios is more rapid than the figures suggest.
On winding roads, sharp, responsive steering means the GT changes direction extremely quickly. The car feels light and there's no shortage of grip from the front wheels.
This set-up means some straight-line stability is sacrificed, and on the motorway, drivers will need to make small but regular adjustments to the wheel to keep the car headed in the right direction. The brakes are strong, but again, we felt the system wasn't quite perfect - the pedal could do with greater consistency.
However, the car is good value for money at £14,745. And even though super hatches such as the Renaultsport Clio 197 and Vauxhall Corsa VXR leave the GT looking decidedly sluggish, Peugeot's union of hot hatch and diesel engine has been well worth the wait.