Peugeot 207 CC GT THP review
by David Morgan (12 March 2007)
What a transformation. Six years after Peugeot broke the mould for affordable open top motoring with the electric-roofed 206 CC it's gone one better with a performance model that's a real delight.
The new 207 CC is a cracking improvement on the 206 CC and has one of the smoothest 1.6-litre petrol engines on the market; a 16-valve unit developed with BMW who already use it to great effect in the latest MINI. It's a responsive and energetic power plant that suits the hottest 207 CC I had on test - the 150bhp GT THP.
A claimed top speed of 131mph and 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds make the £16,895 THP a lively drive. The 1.6 gets its power hike thanks to a twin-scroll turbocharger, high-pressure direct injection and variable inlet valve timing. It's a high-technology solution to performance with stunning mid-range pulling power of 180lb/ft at 1400rpm and surprising economy - I managed a satisfying overall 39mpg.
Compared to the frumpish 206 CC the well-proportioned newcomer has a larger body, impressive specification, new-found refinement, a fully-automatic metal folding roof and a great-handling chassis based on the 207 supermini launched last year. It's streets ahead of the landmark 206 in every respect; refinement, comfort, practicality, dynamics and quality.
In fact there's only one serious flaw - driver visibility at junctions is terrible because the car's heavy A-pillars are carried forward at such a shallow angle. Other than that my only other quibble is the positioning of the interior door handles - they're so far forward that even my perfectly normal 28" arm length found it a hard stretch to open the door.
The 207 CC's predecessor was not without its problems; roof mechanisms were unreliable. More than one customer was left with a roof stalled in the open, closed or halfway-house position. But the new car has a far better roof design that operated faultlessly during my test. What's more, the entire mechanism looks and feels far more sturdy than before.
With a one-touch operation and no fiddling locking catches to release, the fully-lined electric folding roof is a great way to let the sun in or create a snug lid for the cold and rain.
It can even be operated on the move up to a walking pace - handy when you are creeping in traffic and caught in a shower. Toggling a control button between the front seats for 25 seconds retracts all four windows before the elegant roof panels slip out of sight under the double-hinged boot lid.
Roof open, there is room for an impressive luggage load, but with the panels tucked away baggage handling, though better than before, is restricted and you'll pay the price for that smooth open-top profile. It's not that the 207 CC can't carry luggage with the roof stowed; it is simply reduced to the point where you have to think carefully about how much you need to carry for that weekend away.
This is strictly a 2+2 with rear seats little more than occasional perches for small children and better suited for carrying shopping or somewhere to stow jackets. Even without the optional wind deflector (£160) front seat buffet is well controlled up to 70mph, but any unfortunate occupant in those ridiculously small rear seats would have long lost their wigs by the time the car had passed through the 40mph barrier.
Like all 207 CCs the THP has a strengthened shell to compensate for the lack of a permanent roof and there's an active rollover protection system to keep occupants clear of the ground should the car overturn. There are five airbags - two adaptive front airbags, a pair of head and chest side airbags built into the sides of the front seats and a single driver' airbag at knee-height designed to protect lower limbs in a heavy frontal impact.
The THP also gains ESP (electronic stability programme) which works well if you rush through a demanding bend with too much enthusiasm. The car, with a fairly impressive power delivery higher up the rev range, feels safe with great ABS braking and an accurate electric steering system that is fine at speed but over-light round town.
Cabin quality bears out my belief that Peugeot has at long last learned how to build a tactile and good-looking dash with trim to match. And the THP's standard climate control, rear parking assist and directional headlights adds to a good value compact sports car with sharp front-drive handling.
The THP is satisfyingly quick, but lacks the ultimate bite of a true hot hatch. It's just too gentle a concept for the hard stuff - but it deserves a "best effort yet" badge from someone who hated its tacky and pointlessly hedonistic predecessor.