The car in the pictures was stolen. From us. By Reens Garage in Rathmore. You see, Peugeot Ireland had pre-ordered the car as a press demonstrator, but Reens were so keen to get their hands on it they snatched it out from under our noses and took off to Kerry in it. Fortunately, we were able to steal it back for a weekend so we could get a first drive in Peugeot’s latest hot hatch, even though we weren’t really expecting too much from it, given its rather lacklustre numbers and subdued appearance.
With a ‘mere’ 175hp, the 207 GTi’s 0-100km/h time is a distinctly average 7.1 seconds and it runs out of puff at 220km/h, so it’s not going to set the hot hatch world alight with its performance. It also faced an uphill battle versus its own sibling, the 207 GT, which has the same engine (save for a few horses), similar chassis and better equipment for around €3,000 less. On the face of it, then, the 207 GTi does seem a little pointless. Ah, but that’s before you slip behind the wheel. The seats are deeply bolstered with one-piece back rests that support beautifully and improve what is already an excellent driving position. Turn the key and the 1.6-litre turbo-charged engine barks to life and idles with disgruntled aggression. When you rev it, it growls with surprising volume, rattling nearby windows and giving the impression that something very potent lives under the bonnet. Get it rolling, and you’ll notice a weight to the steering and a crispness to the gearbox that’s not evident in other models, not even the GT. This is a very different car to the rest of the 207 range.
This actually feels like a proper GTi. Performance is, as you’d expect, lively without being terrifyingly so. The 207 GTi is quick off the line and scoots along nicely down back roads as well, and while it certainly likes to rev it’s also more than willing to pull hard from little more than idle, making it fantastically laid back on the motorway. Wisely, Peugeot decided not to waste money on a six-speed gearbox and gave us ﬁve perfectly adequate, well-chosen ratios instead. This means you’re not constantly sawing away at the gearbox trying to keep the turbo alive, leaving you free to concentrate on steering down your favourite back road. It’s here that the 207 GTi shows its class, turning in eagerly and accurately, communicating with the driver all the way through the bend and powering out of corners with satisfying consistency.
The calibration of throttle, steering and brakes all combine to produce a deeply satisfying and cohesive drive, and even though we scoffed at the power output earlier, in retrospect it’s actually just the right amount of go for the 207’s sweet little chassis. There are a couple of problems, though. First, the suspension is rather stiff, even by hot hatch standards, and that does become rather tiresome after a while. It also seems to have caused a severe crack in the 207 GTi’s windscreen, and that wasn’t the only quality issue we noticed with the car. Condensation found its way into the indicators, and the seat backs were detaching themselves from the seats. Also, the glovebox lid buzzed incessantly and the seats squeaked. We’ll give this, erm, well-enjoyed garage demo the beneﬁt of the doubt, of course, but it’s still something to bear in mind before you slap down that cheque. At least it’s not too big a cheque. At €27,425 the 207 GTi is actually great value and really only loses the silly glass roof and climate control to the 207 GT. All the basics are there, including air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, spoilers, bucket seats and ESP. Oh, and it has an alarm, too. After all, we’d hate to have our 207 GTi stolen out from under us. Again. INFO
Peugeot 207 GTi
Engine 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder Turbo 175hp, 260Nm torque
Transmission 5-speed manual
Acceleration 0-100 km/h 7.1 seconds
Top speed 220 km/h
Economy 7.2 litres/100km
CO2 Emissions 171 g/km
Weight 1,250 kg
Boot Capacity 270 litres
Base Price €27,425
Price as Tested €28,075