Why a GT and not a GTi?
That’ll happen in 2007. The GTi will share its 175bhp engine with the Mini Cooper S, but that’s several months away, so we should allow the GT with its 150bhp turbocharged engine some time in the limelight. The GT is no slouch, promising 0-60mph in eight seconds, 130mph and 40mpg.
So it’s a Peugeot with a new BMW engine?
It isn’t a BMW engine. The partnership between BMW and PSA Peugeot-Citroen to develop a range of small engines is just that: a partnership. BMW has brought its expertise in twin-scroll turbos for this engine and the Cooper S/GTi, plus Valvetronic technology for the normally aspirated motors. The block is based on a PSA design. Although engines for the new Mini are ‘assembled’ in the UK at Hams Hall, the components are manufactured by PSA in France. Remember, BMW has no expertise in building small engines for front-wheel drive cars – the 2001-2006 Mini uses a Chrysler petrol engine and a Toyota diesel engine.
Is the engine any good?
There’s not much in the way of turbo lag. A close-ratio five-speed gearbox and maximum torque of 177lb ft coming in from 1400rpm – a full 550rpm earlier than the Polo GTI – makes the 207 GT feel responsive. In-gear acceleration is quite impressive: in top gear it takes 8.2 seconds to hit 75mph from 50mph, compared with 10.1 seconds for the lighter 206 GTi. It doesn’t sound exciting at full chat though – a little too well mannered for many hot-hatch buyers.
What about the rest of it?
The 207 GT is satisfying from behind the wheel. Although it has electric power steering, which ultimately lacks the feel of many hydraulic set-ups, it’s weighty enough to thread the car precisely along sinuous country roads and tight hairpins, and results in a pretty involving drive. Although it’s possible to disengage the electronic stability control, it automatically reconnects above 50kmh (31mph), which is probably close to the speed where a slight mistake could turn harmless tomfoolery into knuckle-whitening terror. The gearchange isn’t the slickest around, but it does the job and the brakes have a reassuringly progressive feel. The 205/45 tyres provide plenty of grip, and despite the keenness of the engine to pull from low revs, there’s only a hint of torque steer.
So it’s ahead of its rivals?
At the moment it’s the most modern warm-to-hot supermini. Although there are hot versions of the Fiesta, Ibiza and Polo, these cars feel old now. The 197bhp Clio is pricier, and when next year’s Yaris TS arrives it will offer only 130bhp. Not to mention the Peugeot comes with automatic climate control, automatic lights and wipers, ESP, tyre pressure sensors, side airbags, 17-inch alloys, side and curtain airbags and a panoramic glass roof. Options include full leather, Bluetooth, upgraded audio kit and sat-nav.
So it's good value then?
Yes, and the 207 is a pretty good car overall. The UK will get three-door GT models only, unless there is sufficient demand for a five-door version (already available in France), with a good quality interior, top-notch safety kit and excellent packaging, although bear in mind this car is about the same size as the old Peugeot 306.
Hardcore fans of the old 205 GTi should probably look elsewhere, as the 207 GT doesn’t quite have the same raw appeal. However, most hot-hatch buyers today like their cars with fewer rough edges and the 207 GT delivers most of the high-performance thrills they desire in a user-friendly package.