Motor Mouth

Green the Peugeot 207 GTi ain't, but this hot hatch wears its boy-racer credentials with subtlety. Sathnam Sanghera reports.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Insincerity is an inevitable part of the management game. It's impossible to like everyone you work with and for. You can't believe all the corporate blather you're required to spout. And the Peugeot 207 GTi provides a way of extending that disingenuousness into the car park.

For although it is small and therefore, according to accepted corporate thinking, environmentally friendly, a brief glance at its press pack tells you it's surreptitiously a performance car. It offers 175 bhp of power. It has something called 'overboost', which boosts torque from 180 to 195 lb ft on full throttle in third, fourth and fifth gears. And it will hit 60 in a nifty seven seconds.

Not that the concepts of piddly size and performance have ever been separated in the minds of British boy racers. The hot hatch has so much been the joy-rider's stolen car of choice that it has effectively been nicked off the streets. But the 207 GTi marks an admirable attempt by the French carmaker to reincarnate the spirit of one of the most glorious of superminis, the 205 GTi.

And the first thing you notice is how little there is to notice. Yes, it has mean nine-spoke 17-inch Pitlane alloys, Bridgestone Potenza 205/45 tyres, chunky twin chrome tailpipes, blacked-out windows and a tailgate spoiler, but it is all subtly and stylishly done. At least it doesn't look like something from the pages of Max Power. And that new Peugeot facelift softens its looks further; this has been described as a woman's facelift gone wrong but, to me, it resembles the smile Wallace pulls in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

The subtlety extends to the interior, with its half-trimmed bolstered seats, alloy gear-lever and pedals and a chunky wheel-rim. Indeed, it's only when you turn the ignition and hear the brawny rumble of the engine (which also powers the Mini Cooper S) that the truth is revealed.

Driving it is not easy on the nerves. As well as the speed, the beefed-up brakes are harsh - you find yourself hurtling towards the windscreen at traffic lights - and the suspension is set up aggressively. But you get used to it. And it's fun. Of course, there are yet more powerful hot hatches available: the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and the Renault Clio RS 197, for example. But given what they look like, you wouldn't get away with parking those next to the boss' hybrid Prius.

I'll take one...
Cheaper than the comparable Mini Cooper S.
Thanks but no thanks...
Could be faster.
No sixth gear.
Harsh ride.
Not quite as glorious to drive as the original 205 GTi.

Peugeot 207 GTi THP 175 £14,995
Engine 1,598 cc
Power 175 bhp
Torque 195 lb ft
Transmission 5-speed manual
Fuel 39.2 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 171 g/km
0-62 mph 7.1 sec
Top speed 137 mph

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