Peugeot's 207 SW offers great practicality while sacrificing only a few of the hatchback's road manners
The arrival of the Outdoor means Peugeot has a more complete range of small cars than any rival. There's a growing market for supermini estates, and the extra £700 or so those buyers are being asked for on top of the standard hatch would seem to represent decent value for money. The 207 SW is a good-looking car that offers a lot more practicality while sacrificing only a few of the hatchback's road manners.
Room with a view! That's what Peugeot is promising with its brand new 207 SW Outdoor, but does it deliver? The French firm debuted this rugged-looking estate version of its top-selling supermini at this year's Geneva Motor Show - and it's due to go on sale here in 2008.
Sitting 20mm higher off the ground than the standard 207 SW - which arrives in July - it remains front-wheel- drive rather than 4WD, yet won't cost much more than the basic hatch-back with prices starting at around £11,500. The practical new body suits the 207's sculpted design. With its sleeker, aerodynamic shape, the rear end is cleaner and less complicated than the normal hatch's. And details such as the 407 SW-inspired triangular rear windows and gills around the tail-lights ensure the back is as good to look at as the front.
The Outdoor's wheelbase is identical to the standard five-door's, but the engineers have been hard at work in the boot. The rear seat has been adapted so that it now has a one-touch folding mechanism.
To get a flat load bed, you no longer have to stow the rear seat base first; this now pivots forwards and down as you drop the seatback. But the biggest benefit this car has over the standard model is the glass roof. This floods the cabin with light and makes the seats - covered in slinky parachute-style Rip-stop material - virtually glow in sunlight.
The bright orange colour of the roof bars is unlikely to make production, but the curvy shape will stay the same. The bars will be available as an option, and painted in a distinctive aluminium finish.
On the road, the 207 is certainly responsive. However, the Outdoor's ride quality is affected by the longer springs and dampers, which raise the car by 20mm. The model doesn't feel as supple as the standard hatchback, and becomes more unsettled over bumpy surfaces. There's also more body roll, courtesy of the higher centre of gravity. But don't let the compromises of this high-riding variant dissuade you from the 207 SW altogether. The basic estate should share many of the hatchback's sharp handling traits - promising an entertaining driving experience.
The Outdoor model we tested was fitted with Peugeot's latest 1.6-litre petrol engine. With 110bhp, the unit is plenty powerful enough for a supermini, offering adequate acceleration and quiet refinement when cruising at motorway speeds.
Other engines included in the SW range are likely to follow the regular hatch line-up, so as well as the 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols, there will be the 70bhp 1.4-litre HDi and the 1.6 HDi in 90 and 110bhp guises. The range- topper will be the 150bhp turbo 1.6-litre petrol unit. The SW isn't due to get the 175bhp motor from the GTi, but most buyers will probably want more sedate progress anyway.
What they will get is a car that's better looking than the hatch with a more spacious boot and better developed interior. And that's exactly what Peugeot has promised.