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Click to view picture gallery“Peugeot warms up
  its 207 range with new
  150bhp GT model...”

THE ALL-NEW RANGE of Peugeot 207 three- and five-door 'supermini' hatchbacks was launched in November last year. During that introductory stage of its life, it sold in 15 per cent higher numbers than the 206 range did after its own launch.

The 207, says Peugeot, has had much to do with the brand's over-all UK sales success this year. Sales were up six per cent in October and one per cent year-to-date in a new car market that is down by over 3 per cent. And Peugeot's fleet and business-user sales are up too — by an impressive 20 per cent in a very competitive market. Currently private buyers account for 53 per cent of 207 sales and the range has now taken the place of the 206 range in the UK's Top Ten sales chart. Not surprisingly, Peugeot expects the 207 to become the UK's number one retail selling car — just as the 206 range was at its prime.

To date, the only 'sporting' 207 models have been the 1.6 HDi 110 GT three- and five-door diesel models. Given that Peugeot (and parent company PSA) is strong in the field of diesel engine technology, intro-ducing diesel-powered GT variants before petrol models is unusual although understandable.

Now a GT petrol-powered three-door model has been added to the range and goes on sale during November, priced at 14,345. No five-door version for the UK market is planned.

In a full year of UK sales, once the range is complete next year —
with the addition of the GTI hatchback, CC coupe/cabriolet and SW estate models — total annual sales of the 207 should be in the
region of 90,000 units.

The new GT model is only expected to account for 2 per cent of that total, and the more powerful GTi — due in the second quarter of 2007 — should take up to 5 per cent of total 207 sales.

The full name of the newcomer reviewed here is '207 GT THP 150'. Yes, really. THP refers to Turbo High Performance — Peugeot's new turbo-charged direct-injection petrol engine. Peugeot says this is in keeping with their use of HDi (High Pressure Direct Injection) for diesel engines. The '150' figure refers to the power output, given as the English bhp
as opposed to the European PS.

The new 1.6-litre engine is one of a number of all-new petrol units that have been developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen and the BMW Group.
PSA manufactures the components and builds their engines in Douvrin, France — whilst BMW use the same source for components and build their engines for MINI at Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

We have just seen two versions of these new 'co-operative' 1.6-litre petrol units in the new MINI. One is a non-turbo 120bhp unit for the Cooper, and the other is a twin-scroll turbocharger and intercooler 175bhp engine for the latest Cooper S.

Peugeot uses another version of the engine for the 207 GT. This has the same 1.6-litre capacity with a twin-scroll turbocharger but has no intercooler and generates 150bhp.

The forthcoming Peugeot 207 GTi — due next year and scheduled to make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March — will use the same 175bhp unit as the MINI Cooper S.

Next year Peugeot will also replace their own aging 1.6-litre petrol engine with the new PSA/BMW 1.6-litre non-turbo, 120bhp unit as
used for the MINI Cooper. At the same time, Peugeot will offer an automatic transmission option for 207 models fitted with this engine.

Also next year, a new 1.4-litre 100bhp petrol engine from the same source will be added to the Peugeot 207 and MINI range.

The new Peugeot 207 GT THP 150 will compete for 'warm' hatch sales against the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST, the new Mini Cooper and the Renault Clio Dynamic S, but the Peugeot has a higher level of standard specification and, with a top speed of 131mph, it is faster than all
of them. The 0-62mph acceleration time is 8.1 seconds and only the lighter and smaller Fiesta ST betters that, with 7.9 seconds. Overall fuel economy for the 207 GT THP 150 is officially 40.3mpg — although during the UK media's first drive this week around the roads of War-wickshire, the newcomer returned 30.1mpg. As expected, the solid construction and built-in safety features and specification of the 207 do give it a weight penalty.

The three-door 207 GT THP 150 carries no exterior GT badging to differentiate it from fellow 207 three-door models, and it has an identical specification to the diesel GT HDi model.

The 207 GT's standard specification includes a Thatcham Class One alarm, auto lights and wipers, folding electric door mirrors, electrically-operated windows, panoramic glass roof, central door locking with deadlocks, climate control, half-leather interior trim, stereo radio and CD player, polished alloy pedals, an electronic stability programme, anti-lock braking, tyre deflation sensors, 17-inch alloy road wheels
and front, side and curtain airbags. Like all 207 models, the newcomer can boast a five-star adult occupant Euro NCAP safety rating, with four stars for child occupant protection and three stars for pedestrian safety.

To accommodate the extra performance of the new turbocharged engine, the front suspension has stronger flexible mounts to maintain front wheel alignment under acceleration and braking loads. The rear suspension torsion beam is also 12.5 per cent stiffer than that of the GT HDI diesel model. And front and rear damping rates have also been changed. The electronic power steering has been tweaked to cope with the extra performance and to maintain the 207s reputation for precise and predictable handling.

However, the real highlight of the new GT is its new engine. This really is a unit that gives the same driving pleasure associated with high torque usually only found with turbocharged diesel engines. Thanks
to new engine and turbocharger technology, the power is directly com-parable with larger 2.0-litre petrol engines. This is the first range of 1.6-litre petrol engines to use twin-scroll turbochargers and they eliminate turbo-lag almost completely. Being a direct injection petrol unit gives more power anyway — and less emissions too — with the possibility of good fuel economy.

But it is the GT's torque that is most impressive. With the engine producing just 1,000rpm — little more than tickover — torque is 116lb ft, while maximum torque of 177lb ft is reached at just 1,400rpm.
This remains up to 3,500rpm with 153lb ft still available at 5,000rpm. So it is torque rather than bhp that truly impresses and it makes for
a really responsive drive at all speeds. It is especially useful for the mid-range driving performance — getting past slower moving traffic at
50 to 70mph, for example, without having to change up and down
the gearbox to keep the engine in its optimum power band. This high torque at low speeds is also brilliant for travelling in heavy traffic, as
a fairly high gear can be used — again, without the need for constant gear changes.

We were promised that the new generation of direct injection petrol engines would become just as user-friendly as new direct injection turbo diesel units. These new PSA/BMW units prove that that's defin-itely the case. The only downside is that petrol still cannot match diesel for fuel economy — yet.

Overall, the performance of this additional Peugeot 207 offers driving refinement, rather than out-and-out 'hot hatch' speed. Torque-steer is evident but predictable, and the 207 GT's handling is sharp with plenty of grip during cornering. It feels nose-heavy under braking at times and it would also benefit from a new-generation gearbox. This one is rather old-school Peugeot and is not as precise as the one on offer in the new MINI. It has a rubbery feel to the gearchange; does not offer slick changes; and once at cruising speed a sixth ratio would be welcome for a more relaxed motorway drive.

Good points are easy: a great engine with flexible high torque output, good handling, fun to drive and good level of standard equipment. So, all-in-all — and until the very much hotter GTi variant comes along — you can still warm up your 207 driving experience with this very competent car. — David Miles

Peugeot 207 GT THP 150 3-door
| 14,345
Maximum speed: 131mph | 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Overall test MPG: 30.1mpg | Power: 150bhp | Torque: 177lb ft

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