Peugeot 207 GTi (2007) review
Peugeot's 207 GTi has excellent handling and steering but lacks the rawness of its forebears
The legendary GTi is back - but it's not as raw as its forebears. With a fine turbocharged engine, excellent handling and one of the best electric power-steering set-ups around, the 207 has all the ingredients of a decent hot hatch. It also offers impressive refinement and long-distance comfort, but customers hoping for a successor to the 205 GTi will ultimately be disappointed. Compared with the competition, the latest hot Peugeot is far too reserved in both appearance and sound, and is simply too ordinary to wear the famous badge. It certainly has price on its side, but let's hope that Peugeot gets the forthcoming 210bhp range-topper right.
From VXR to Type R, no family car builder would be without a performance badge to tempt enthusiasts. Even so, few can match Peugeot's GTi brand when it comes to pedigree.
With an incredible back catalogue of hot hatches, the firm has yet to match the brilliance of the original 205 GTi, so its latest addition, the 207 GTi, carries a hefty weight of expectation.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Peugeot 207
Talented new rivals in the form of the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Renault-sport Clio 197 add to the building sense of anticipation, so how does the hot 207 rate on British roads?
Unlike the competition, the Peugeot doesn't simply rely on extreme body-kits and pumped-up looks. Instead, there are discreet side skirts, twin tailpipes, a subtle rear spoiler and dished 17-inch alloys to set it apart from lesser models. Silver-finished door mirrors are another clue to the performance on offer, but only afficionados will be able to tell the GTi apart, which could leave some hot hatch fans feeling a bit short-changed.
It's the same story inside, where there's an absence of garish trim and GTi logos. In fact, you have to look hard to find the famous trio of letters - the only ones we could find were on the bootlid. What you do get are chrome-rimmed instruments, aluminium pedals and stylish sports seats front and rear. The cabin is spacious, but the side bolsters of the front chairs provide little support during hard cornering.
Peugeot hasn't been so reserved under the bonnet, though, and the GTi's 175bhp 1.6-litre turbo engine is shared with the MINI Cooper S. It doesn't have the power or rev-hungry nature of its rivals, but with lots of low-down torque (an impressive 244Nm at only 1,600rpm), its power delivery is much more relaxed. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes 7.1 seconds, so performance is certainly competitive.
On the road, the 207's uprated suspension delivers more grip and fluid handling. However, there is still noticeable body roll in tight bends and the low-speed ride highlights small surface imperfections.
Heavily revised front suspension also improves the excellent power-steering, which is one of the finest set-ups currently available. However, the nicely weighted steering is at odds with the large diameter wheel and five-speed gearbox.
The 207 has price on its side, though, even if at £14,995 it does without climate control, cruise control and adaptive headlights - they come with the optional Pack Plus for an extra £1,000, putting it close to its rivals.
However, the GTi isn't a typical thrill-a-minute hot hatch in the mould of its predecessors and lacks the raw driving experience and sporty design cues that make the Corsa VXR or Renaultsport Clio so exciting.
It's sure to appeal to enthusiasts, with its talented chassis, relaxed power delivery and superior refinement. However, real hardcore fans could be better off waiting for the even more powerful 210bhp variant to get their performance kicks.