Not 2 Grand Cars, Peugeot

The Peugeot 207 GTi…

No, it’s not like the 205 GTi. And that’s just fine.

The 205 GTi was great, okay? It was a delicious coming together of perfect chassis engineering, driver engagement and an engine with willingness that could only be matched by a Jack Russell hearing “walkies” from its owner. The 205 GTi was, and still is, a belting car. What it is not, however, is a benchmark for every hot Peugeot hatch since. Seriously, just let the 205 GTi be its own thing, don’t drag it into the cross-hairs of modern motoring.

Things have moved on. Our motoring expectations are different in 2018 to what they were in 1988. As such, you shouldn’t compare the 205 GTi to this, the mighty 207 GTi. They share a badge. That’s about it. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better off we’ll all be.

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You wouldn’t want to use a 205 GTi every day. You’d get sick of the noise, the smells, the harsh chassis, the ever-looming possibility of it folding up around you if you hit so much as a stiff breeze. That kind of thing. All things that wouldn’t be a concern if you were behind the wheel of a 207 GTi THP 175 to give it its full name. Instead, you’d have comfy seats, air con, a four-star EuroNCAP rating and 175bhp with 177lb ft of torque. Okay, so it’s not quite as much as a Corsa VXR of the same vintage, but then again, they can’t be had for less than £2000.

You also get a car with some real presence. The chrome mirrors are a bit gopping, but you soon get over that, and instead enjoy the chunky alloys wheels and the subtle yet purposeful bodykit. It’s not a small car though, make no mistake. The 207 will fill your average driveway without too much trouble. And its size and heavily chamfered corners can be an issue when it comes to parking, but that’s more a consequence of modern car design rather than something specific to the 207 GTi.

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So what powers the 207 GTi THP 175? Well, the THP means Turbo High Pressure, which is nice and also something the original 205 couldn’t boast. Forced induction was the stuff of dreams in the mid ’80s. Now, it’s commonplace, and in the case of the 207, it works a treat. The turbocharger employed, unfortunately named the KKK, is a twin-scroll job. The system pairs up the exhaust gasses from cylinders one and four and those of two and three, with each pairing then being passed through the turbo’s scrolls. It’s all very clever.

For you, the driver, it means lag is minimal, with boost coming in from as little as 1,000rpm. It’s also got a nifty over-boost feature, which jumps the pressure up to 1bar, resulting in 15 more of those pound feet. So in a nutshell, it’s pretty fast.

The whole kit and caboodle is the same as what you’d find in a MINI Cooper S of the same age. Though with the MINI you’re less inclined to compare it to Paddy Hopkirk’s Monte Carlo winning car. Funny that.

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Transmission-wise, you’ve got a five-speed manual (rather than the sixer you’ll find in a MINI) and this, regrettably, is where things start to fall down. A GTi, any GTi, should have a slick, engaging gear-shift. The 207 doesn’t. The throw is too long, and while the gears land with a pleasing directness, the action between them somewhat hampers the driving experience. Though you can buy a short-shift kit to tighten things up. We suggest you do.

The steering also lets the side down a little. The 207 GTi’s turn-in is sharp and direct, but the feedback from the steering is minimal. It’s over-assisted and as such, far too light. For the real-world everyday driving, this is fine, but when you want to push on a bit it leaves you feeling a bit disconnected and as such, it’s hard to build up trust in the 207. And that’s a shame.

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Inside the 207 GTi you’ll find a well-appointed cabin. The seats are comfy in tht way that only French cars seem to be able to manage. The fit and finish is very good indeed, and with air con as well as a whole host of other electric toys, you’ll be left feeling you’ve got plenty for your money. Put it this way, when you get in a GTi it doesn’t feel like a two grand car. It feels like a lot more. And isn’t that what we’re all about here at N2G?

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So then, should you buy one? Well, we would. We like the 207 GTi. It’s got plenty of punch, it’s by no means hard on the eye and despite its sporting desires it’s still a practical, usable car. It’s the perfect mix of fun when you want it, but a solid, decent car in the purest sense of the word the rest of the time.

No, it’s not the 205GTi, and that’s just fine and dandy. The 205 GTi is a car of a different era, a time when we expected less from our cars. The 207 is the perfect answer to the needs of the modern driver, but it still has the GTi heritage in its blood. Pretty much perfect, then?

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