The Peugeot 207 looks the same as the 206 CC. A bit unimaginative, isn’t it?
Peugeot thinks style is a major selling factor, so the genes of the earlier 206 are obvious. The company could be accused of playing safe, but it knows this market very well indeed. The 207 is already selling nicely in hatchback form so why try to be too clever, especially when there are many new rivals out there vying for buyers’ attention? Women love Peugeot coupe cabrios. Nearly 90 percent of 206 CC sales went to the gentler sex and half of them were under 35. And, like it or not, there are plenty of drivers out there who reckon open-air motoring = sports car. They don’t read CAR Online.
So it’s a sports car for girls. No need any dynamic appeal then.
Correct. Except the 207 CC is immeasurably better in this respect than the old car. It’s stiffer, of course, but what new car isn’t? More importantly, this greater integrity has been put to good use, with suspension settings that offer fine control and handling prowess well above most buyers’ expectations, all while avoiding the demon of scuttle shake. But the 207 CC is still no sports car. There’s none of the essential feel or steering tactility. Power assistance may vary according to the perceived need, but electric steering still has a way to go to match even a middling hydraulic set-up. At least the column now adjusts for reach as well as rake, so a decent range of driving positions is possible.
So the chassis is better. What about the performance?
Look at the data sheet and start to worry. An extra 200kg has been added to the mass of the 206 CC, which translates to a kerb weight the wrong side of 1400kg. Or nearly one-and-a-half tonnes... It means the base 1.6, even with its 120bhp, is likely to be something of a non-starter, although it’s the only choice if you want an auto ’box. The other two engines have merit. There’s a familiar 1.6 HDI, which is fine for the sort of relaxed motoring where gearchanging is kept to a minimum. The gem, though, is the 1.6 THP petrol turbo. Short of an intercooler and with different ECU settings, it’s the same basic engine as in the forthcoming 207 GTI and Mini Cooper S. The deal here is that the torque peaks at a wincingly low 1400rpm - perfect for hauling the hefty 207 CC off the line and up motorway inclines. You could even call it vaguely sporty. With 150bhp available towards the higher reaches, this engine is well suited to the overall character of the little Peugeot. There’s still no option of a six-speed transmission though, which seems remiss.
Is there any upside to this lardiness?
Part of the increased weight is down to the extra steel needed to provide the stiffer shell, but the major cause is safety. Those neat chrome-plated roll bars behind the seats are pyrotechnically activated when sensors detect the probability of an unintended flip. They pop up 200mm in a sixth of a second. There’s an increased airbag count, including side ’bags – quite a technical feat in a convertible. And the bigger, comfier seats and improved basic spec all pile on the pounds.
Isn’t the 207’s roof still a bit old-hat?
In many ways it is. While three-, four- and even five-section roofs have arrived in the last couple of years, Peugeot has stuck to a simple two-piece structure. It means there is less to go wrong (though the latching is fully electric this time) but this simple roof brings big compromises, too. The first is that there’s no getting around the need for a massive boot lid to hide that long roof; the 207 CC looks gawky and unbalanced when spied in profile with the roof up. And the folded roof is inefficient in its use of what’s left of the boot space, with masses of wasted volume between the top and rear sections. Getting at luggage with the roof down is nearly impossible.
Isn’t there a better way to get into a coupe cabriolet?
Yes, but you’d need to spend at least £20,000 to buy into a decently equipped Astra or Eos. There are rival supermini-sized CCs, but neither the Colt nor Micra is as well rounded or enjoyable as the Pug. All these cars claim to have ‘four seats’, but the rear perch is only really viable as a shelf for shopping and coats. The Tigra and MX-5 Roaster Coupe are less compromised, simply because they avoid the rear-seat argument altogether.
The fact that the original 206 CC was far from a great car hardly seemed to matter. The idea was right and Peugeot sold 366,000 of them. But today’s competition means the 207 CC needs to be an immeasurably better product and, somewhat against the betting, it really is. It’s still going to appeal to its core market, that’s certain. The looks are all there and the opportunity to pretty it up with various grades of leather interior are present and correct. But the newfound prowess on the road broadens the attraction to those who demand something extra from their driving. A day in the tiresomely noisy MX-5 Roadster Coupe is enough to make a convincing case in favour of the Peugeot.