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Click to view road test review picture gallery“If you’re in the market
  for a ‘supermini’
  estate car, then the
  Peugeot 207 SW could
  be just the car for you.
  And it’s not just the
  diesel version that
  makes for good

ARE YOU MYSTIFIED BY THE APPEAL OF MPVS? Have you succumbed to the pressures of the anti-SUV lobby? Are you hacked-off with hatchbacks; feel stifled by saloons? If so, you could be ecstatic with an estate — or find an SW simply wonderful.

There seems to be no doubt that estate cars — or SWs, as Peugeot and Kia call theirs — are becoming more popular with customers who are either bored with conventional, commonplace hatchbacks and do not need the multi-seat options of an MPV but, whether for business use or pleasure, do need that extra length to satisfy their load carry-ing needs.

The new Peugeot 207 SW potentially fits the bill, despite being only 4,156mm in length. The growth in 'supermini' sector sales has continued this year, and vehicles of this size account for one in three new cars sold in the UK. Last year, 752,872 'superminis' were sold in this country. So far this year, 633,155 of them have already been bought. Confirming their appeal, the new car sales top ten features no less than four 'supermini' model ranges: Fiesta, Corsa, 207 and Clio.

The 207 range offers three- and five-door hatchbacks, the CC coupe-cabriolet and, more recently, the SW (or estate) models. In the first nine months of this year, 54,246 Peugeot 207s have been purchased new in this country.

Introduced a short 11 months after the launch of the 207 hatchbacks, the SW completes the 207 line-up, underscoring the importance of these 'supermini' estates that, for many people, are a better option than a 'supermini' five-door hatchback. Likely customers range from young families to active retired couples. Retail buyers are more likely
to opt for petrol-engined models while business users, who tend to drive more miles, will opt for diesel power.

The 207 range offers a choice of two petrol and two turbodiesel engines, S and Sport trim and equipment levels, and prices starting at 11,340 (up to 14,365). All — except the very cheapest model — have air conditioning as standard. However, there is a long list of options so the final price of any 207 SW can be much higher. The most popular options include metallic paint at 350, rear parking sensors at 250, an upgraded CD autochanger at 230 and the 400 Comfort Pack comprising dual-zone air conditioning, automatic lights and rain sen-sitive wipers. Even the must-have Electronic Stability Programme is an extra cost item at 350.

The normally-aspirated 1.4-litre VTi 95bhp and the1.6-litre VTi 120bhp petrol engines are the result of the co-operation between PSA Peugeot Citroen and the BMW Group, who use them for the new MINI. How-ever, the PSA versions differ slightly in their design with variable-valve lift timing and a different electronic engine management system. Both engines deliver over 86 per cent of their torque at only 2,000rpm.

The two HDI turbocharged, second-generation, common-rail diesel engines are solely from PSA and reflect Peugeot's programme for downsizing capacity, which improves fuel economy whilst retaining the same or higher power output. Both diesel engines are 1.6-litre units, one producing 90bhp and the other 110bhp.

All models are available with a five-speed manual transmission but the 120bhp petrol engine also has the option of an automatic gearbox.

Likely to be the most popular Peugeot 207 SW model for retail custom-ers is the Sport 1.6-litre 120 petrol priced at 13,275. However, I would think most customers would add to this price a further 1,230 of the most popular options. I would go one further and spend a further 350 for the Electronic Stability Programme which really should be fitted as standard, bringing the price close to 15,000. As you can see, the price soon adds up.

I know Peugeot dealers are already offering deals on 207 models but clearly the 207 SW is not a 'cheap' car and neither is it particularly big. If you want a slightly larger estate for more or less the same money, but with better standard equipment, the excellent Kia cee'd SW with a seven-year warranty is most definitely worth considering.

The 'smiling' face of the 207 is generally regarded as being pretty and appealing. Adding Peugeot's stylish SW treatment to the rear of the car has produced an attractive visual package overall. Be warned that the 'Sport' specification is not about added performance but predom-inantly about higher equipment and smarter trim levels over the stan-dard S versions. Sport specification adds 16-inch alloy wheels, sports front seats, leather steering wheel and gear knob and an aluminium effect front grille.

All 207 SW models have a full length panoramic glass sunroof with electrically-operated sunblind, tailgate with a separate opening rear window section, roof bars, fold-flat split rear seats, a clever three-piece load area cover, air conditioning, electrically-operated heated door mirrors, electric windows, trip computer, front, side and curtain airbags, stereo radio and CD player and antilock braking with elec-tronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist.

Overall, the SW is 119mm longer than the five-door hatchback. The increase in length (and height) also allows for more rear seat passenger legroom and headroom. The load area with the seats in place is 428 litres — 118 litres more than the hatchback models. This increases to
a useful 1,433 litres with the rear seats folded. A good feature is that the rear seats easily fold down to provide a completely flat load area. The load area length is 1,694mm and the maximum interior width is 1,414mm, and there's a towing capacity of 1,110kg.

Because of the extra weight to be carried and the extra rear overhang, the suspension has been modified over that used for 207 hatchback models. The anti-roll bar, dampers and spring rates are all modified to deliver a more compliant ride while at the same time coping with the extra weight to be carried at the rear, and so has the electronic power steering.

Overall, the changes have been well thought out and the SW is equally as nimble as its smaller hatchback stablemates. The ride comfort is ex-cellent and body roll minimal, even when laden. The huge glass sunroof gives the estate a light and airy feel but I don't feel it is a necessity; just as long as the car has air conditioning.

The load area, and its practical ease of use, is what an estate car is
all about. In this area the 207 SW has been well designed, especially as the fold down seat operation can be done one-handed and the rear head restraints do not need to be removed to get the seat backs down.

The 1.6-litre engine is the star of the show, returning really good fuel economy and low CO2 emissions that, at 150g/km, will cost owners just 115 per year in road tax (the same as the two diesel engines). However, if you choose the automatic transmission option with this engine the 173g/km CO2 figure jumps up to two bands higher, to Group E, and will cost the owner 165 a year in road tax. The average fuel consumption for my test car is officially 44.8mpg — spot on, and exactly what I got. But for most of the week, after several motorway journeys, cruising at the legal limit the on-board computer was showing 46.5mpg, so the potential for really good fuel economy is definitely there.

With diesel fuel now costing more than petrol, and with Peugeot charging over a 1,000 more for their 110bhp diesel engine over the 120bhp petrol unit, even high mileage users need to consider whether it is worth paying the extra for a diesel model when the 120 petrol versions are so fuel efficient.

Under acceleration, the 120bhp petrol engine is no ball of fire but it is adequate enough. Its really good characteristic is the delivery of torque because 86 per cent of the 120lb ft of 'grunt' is available at 2,000rpm, which makes it a very responsive and flexible to drive in traffic or motoring along A and B class country roads in top gear. The gearbox is only a five-speed unit and not the SW's best feature: the gearchange action is a bit notchy and not very slick to use. And it could do with a six-speed unit (as fitted to the MINI) for motorways.

The 207 SW's good points are many — including its light, airy and good quality interior, good fuel economy, additional boot space and rear legroom over the 207 hatchback models. And also its composed ride. The only real complaint is that it's a tad pricey and added options push up the price even more. As good as the 207 SW is, the Kia cee'd SW offers much more space, has a seven-year warranty and has a keener price. It's a case of horses for courses: over to you. — David Miles

Peugeot 207 SW Sport 1.6 VTi 120 | 13,275
Maximum speed: 125mph | 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 44.8mpg | Power: 120bhp | Torque: 120lb ft

CO2 150g/km

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