CC has a lot going for
it. Having flown to
Spain for his first drive,
David Miles came
home still smiling...
AT THIS WEEK'S international media launch for the new Peugeot 207 Coupe-Cabriolet which goes on sale in the
UK from 1 March Peugeot said that the new model
range has to replace an icon
of modern day motoring.
No exaggeration: when it was launched in January 2001, the iconic 206 CC changed the UK convertible market forever.
Peugeot says that as their first coupe-cabriolet model, the 401 Eclipse, was launched in 1934, the new 207 CC range simply continues their long-established tradition of building such models.
The 206 CC was the best selling convertible car in the UK for five out of the last six years. From its launch in January 2001 until now, the total UK sales of the 206 CC were 46,800 units. The car was also the best-selling small coupe-cabriolet in the world, with more than 366,000 produced. If you add the 307 CC models to that total, it gives Peugeot over 500,000 world-wide sales of coupe-cabriolet models in just six years.
With the 206 CC having been credited with launching and popularising the affordable coupe-cabriolet market sector, Peugeot said that in the UK in the year 2000, sales of such vehicles totalled 34,200 units with just two models available. Last year, with 12 model ranges to choose from, sales reached 174,000.
The new 207 CC will only be built at Peugeot's Madrid factory and pro-duction will be around 330 units a day. The minimum sales target this year for Europe is 50,000 207 CCs and the European sales forecast is for 70 per cent of these to have petrol engines.
In the UK it is expected that 207 CC sales in a full year could reach 6,000 units, with 88 per cent of customers expected to go for petrol power. The 1.6-litre non-turbocharged 120bhp unit is likely to be the best selling engine. The range also consists of a 1.6-litre turbocharged 150bhp petrol engine and a 1.6-litre HDi turbodiesel producing 110bhp.
Both petrol engines are produced by Peugeot in conjunction with BMW. The diesel unit comes from PSA. All engines use a 5-speed manual transmission, although for an extra £1,000 the non-turbo 1.6-litre petrol model can be specified with a four-speed automatic gearbox featuring 'Porsche Tiptronic' sequential manual selection.
There are two levels of trim: Sport and GT, with Sport taking 80 per cent of sales. Prices start at £14,795 for the expected best selling version and rise to £17,095 for the GT HDi 110 variant. There's also a long list of extra cost options taking in metallic paint, leather trim, a Sports pack, cruise control, Electronic Stability Programme, rear park-ing aid, Bluetooth hands-free kit, an upgraded sound system satellite navigation and a wind blocker.
Who are the target customers? Well, according to Peugeot, young people under 35 year of age, who will view the 207 CC as their 'attain-able dream' and their principal car they represent 41 per cent of buyers. Women, too, are prime customers as 88 per cent of 206 CC buyers were female. Couples who are multi vehicle owners and aged between 45 to 60 years of age could add the 207 CC as a second or even third 'fun' car to their fleet and thus account for 30 per cent
The 207 CC is launched on the back of the increasing sales success of the three- and five-door 207 Hatchback models that made their debut last year. The 207 range is now in the UK's top ten models sales chart and fleet sales have increased by 15 per cent.
Although it remains a 2+2 like the 206 CC it replaces, the new model
is much larger overall eight inches longer, three inches wider and half an inch higher than the 206 CC and similar in size to the 207 Hatch-backs. However, rear seat space is still minimal and not really very practical except for smaller children but it does offer the possib-ility of carrying one or even two people in the back for a short journey.
With a similar operation to the 206 CC, the 207 CC's two-piece metal roof designed and manufactured in-house by Peugeot is operated electrically. However it differs significantly in terms of convenience thanks to its entirely automatic operation. The only manual operation consists of pressing the control button for 25 seconds, during which time the opening or closing cycle is completed; after all four windows have been lowered automatically. The side windows feature an auto-matic drop system that improves sealing and reduces wind noise.
The hydraulic pump that operates the roof mechanism is located in the boot below the spare wheel, which helps to reduce the operating noise.
The roof lowers into the boot and is separated from the luggage by a roller blind which if not in place will not allow the roof to be folded down. In roof-up coupe guise, the luggage space is 449 litres. With
the roof folded away, this shrinks to just 187 litres marginally more than the 206 CC. With the roof down, luggage or shopping cannot be removed very easily from the boot area so, somewhat annoyingly,
the roof has to be raised when loading or unloading. The space created by the rear seats can also be used for hand luggage and coats, or to keep fragile items such as a bouquet of flowers in easy reach.
Safety features include five airbags as standard two adaptive front airbags; two 'head-chest' side airbags located in the side of the front seats; and a steering column airbag designed to protect the driver's lower limbs and there is an active roll-over protection system in the form of two hoops behind the rear seats that deploy should the car start to turn over. There is a strengthened structure for the new 207 CC's bodyshell strong sills, pillars, doors and floor over its hatch-back stablemates. Not only does this reinforce the car from a safety aspect, but it also gives it more rigidity so that when the roof is
down there is no torsional twist or body shake which in turn improves handling and ride comfort.
The usual high NCAP safety ratings that apply to the hatchback models apply equally to the 207 CC. In addition, the front passenger seat is equipped with a 3-point Isofix mounting system and the passenger air-bag can be switched off when a rear facing child seat is used.
The 207 CC's electronic steering has revised software for better res-ponse and feedback. The suspension, too, has revised settings: the track front and rear has been widened by 30mm; the anti-roll bars
are uprated; and the rear torsion beam axle has also been revised for better stability. Together all of these changes have added 190kg to the overall weight of the 207 CC over the corresponding 207 three-door hatchback models.
The Sport specification includes, as standard, alloy road wheels, four electric windows, electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, driver and passenger height-adjustable Sports seats, reach/rake adjustable steering column, electric power steering, radio and single CD player, manual air conditioning, trip computer and remote locking for the doors and boot. Anti-lock brakes with Electronic BrakeForce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist are also standard.
The GT model, which is available only with the 150bhp turbocharged petrol engine has, in addition, dual-zone climate control with air conditioning, larger 17-inch alloy wheels, an aluminium finish to the front air intake, aluminium door sill kick panels and pedals, automatic wipers, automatic directional headlights and an Electronic Stability Programme.
Unfortunately for the international media test drive event, the best-selling 1.6-litre 120bhp/120lb ft of torque engine was not available.
But we now know this BMW/PSA engine well and it would seem a logical choice. The 1.6-litre HDi turbodiesel unit with 110bhp and 180lb ft of torque was available and this proved to be a very flexible and respon-sive unit, although like all three engines cruising noise would be reduced with a six-speed transmission rather than the stodgy 5-speed 'box. If you are a high mileage driver, the 54.3mpg and low 136g/km CO2 rating will be particularly appealing.
Star of the engine line-up is the 1.6-litre THP high-pressure, twin-scroll turbocharger petrol engine with 150bhp and 180lb ft of torque available across a wide power band from only 1,400rpm. It is the flexibility and response that make this unit exceptional. Its 39.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 171g/km are equally good news. However, during the test drive programme, the fuel consumption dipped down to the low 20's not really surprising given the torturous and winding Spanish roads. Only the ponderous gear change action spoilt the overall performance of this engine, although in normal use it is something you can easily live with.
Overall it's an excellent new model to add to the 207 range. It looks good and appears really well built. Against? Not much. Thick A-pillars can hinder front quarter visibility and the roof has to be raised to
get items out of the boot. But more than making up for that is the 207 CC's good specification and value for money. It's also stylish, civilised and well engineered. It comes with a well-insulated roof and good safety features and, thanks to a stiff bodyshell that provides excellent torsional rigidity, it is generally well behaved when driven hard. You
can bet it will follow in the footsteps of the 206 CC it supersedes to become the best selling coupe-cabriolet. Nice one Peugeot! David Miles
Peugeot 207 CC GT THP 150 | £16,895
Maximum speed: 131mph | 0-62mph: 8.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 39.2mpg | Power: 150bhp | Torque: 180lb ft