Peugeot 207 SW HDi 110 Sport review
by David Finlay (18 March 2009)
I can tell you the exact moment when it struck me just what a splendid little car the 207 SW is. It came at the end of a 30-mile journey over the kind of road you would tell your grandchildren about if you tackled it just once (fortunately, since I live in the area, it's a regular route for me) - corners of almost very possible description, fierce climbs, savage plunges, and just occasionally a straight of some length on which to get your breath back.
Sometimes this road is a trial, sometimes it's a delight. It all depends on what you're driving. In the SW I wanted it to go on forever. I'll come back to this shortly, but for now it's not important, because the revelation came when I stopped the car afterwards.
What I haven't told you yet is that the SW was loaded up with a week's shopping, and halfway through the drive I had an uneasy feeling that what I was doing might possibly be converting the initially separated foodstuffs into a sort of large-scale paella, and that everything I ate during the following week would taste of everything else.
But no. I had a cup of coffee before sitting down to write this, and I'm pleased to be able to report that it didn't taste of sardines, or Wensleydale, or any of the other items contained within the SW at the same time as the coffee jar. That's because I had had the unusual good sense of covering all the bags with the cargo net in the luggage compartment, and despite all the yahoo stuff on that road they were all sitting exactly as they had been when I left the supermarket.
Now, there are lots of cars that handle pretty well, and lots that have cargo nets, and many that tick both boxes. I won't say that the SW is unique in combining practical family transport with driving fun, but I very much like the fact that it can do this.
Practicality is of course the main reason for buying an SW rather than a 207 hatchback - or, come to that, a 207 CC coupé-convertible. It was also the reason for choosing an SW from the previous 206 range, and at this point I should report the experience of a friend of mine who has recently upgraded from a 206 SW. At first she looked at a 207, and was impressed by the fact that it had more luggage room. The problem came when she tried to put her daughter's clarsach inside it.
A clarsach is kind of Gaelic harp, a lot smaller than an orchestral harp but still not exactly the kind of musical instrument you could carry under one arm. (Other car magazines like to use sets of golf clubs as units of measurement. We prefer clarsachs.)
It will go easily into a 206 SW, but it's much harder to manhandle through the narrower opening of the 207, so my friend had to revise her plans, though it all worked out in the end for Peugeot because she bought a 308 SW instead. Still, the clarsach players among you might like to take note of her predicament.
For flautists, violinists and all the rest of you, possibly excepting players of the tuba or double bass, the SW should be spacious enough for most needs. Other plus points include more rear passenger space and a more comfortable driving position than the 206 had, a panoramic sunroof which is standard fitment on all 207 SWs, and in this particular case Peugeot's excellent 110bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine which has at least as much power as the car needs (the 90bhp alternative is good enough for the job, and cheaper), operates remarkably quietly and returns decent combined economy and CO2 figures of 56.4mpg and 131g/km.
The worst thing about the car is the rear window design, which is very cute but almost completely useless for reversing, and not everyone is going to like the perhaps over-assisted steering. The steering actually helps make the SW exceptionally easy to drive in town, though the flipside is that it doesn't give you much idea of the contact between tyre and tarmac when you're making good progress across country.
That last part is probably of little consequence to most potential SW buyers, but as I said at the start this car is outstandingly good fun when you push it hard. Don't take the "Sport" part of its name too seriously - it refers simply to the trim level, which includes alloy wheels, very supportive seats, folding door mirrors and various other odds and ends not found as standard on the entry-level S.
It should not be taken to imply any particular sporting pretensions, but that's not a bad thing: I have a bit of a problem with Peugeot's truly sporty cars, which seem to be designed to work best on race circuits and fall down badly on ordinary roads, whereas the more apparently mundane models generally ride and handle superbly. That's certainly the case with the 207 SW, and it's one of the reasons I think I would rather enjoy living with this car.