Thursday, March 17, 2011

Test Drive: Peugeot 207


Peugeot 207 is not only versatile but contributes to the diversity of choice in the popular sub RM100K family car segment

By Marhalim Abas

In the non-national car segment, cars in 1.5 and 1.6 category and priced below RM90,000, the Toyota Vios and Honda City are in the perennial best seller lists.

They are followed closely by the Korean upstarts from ia and Hyundai with other Japanese makes which easily cost more than RKM90k.

Interestingly, the Vios 1.5 manual is the cheapest in this category costing some RM71k although one can splurge for the Sportivo version which is pegged at City E price of around RM85k plus.

It is in this very competitive category, Nasim Sdn Bhd, a member of the Naza Group is pitching the Peugeot 207 sedan. The CKD model is offered at RM73,074.50 off the road. Yes its even cheaper than its stable mate, the Kia Forte for which the 1.6 model starts from RM75k, also assembled at the plant in Gurun, Kedah.

Styling wise, the 207 looks more to the 206 which it replaced but since it’s a sedan it has a much larger boot, 420 litres to be exact. Not the biggest but I can guarantee that it will not be troubled by the weekly shopping trips.

The same goes for other excursions like chasing little white balls or the perennial balik kampong trips.

The front end drooped menacingly but does not look as aggressive as the more expensive 308. To be honest it looked more like a 407 on a low carb diet. Anyhow like others I have issues with the back end starting from the C-pillar but I guess it’s more of a personal taste rather than any design faux pas

Overall, the 207 looked like a nifty vehicle, an updated version of the previous model but remained a quintessential modern Peugeot. Driving wise, the 207 feels lively on the word go although one do not expect too much from the 1.6 litre car.

The steering felt too light for me coming out from parking or traffic lights but felt much more comfortable as the speedo goes past 40km/h. Again it’s more of a personal issue but I prefer to have the same feel from start to finish

One needs to floor the left pedal to get the most from the 1.6 litre twin-cam 16- valve four-cylinder engine. With147Nm at 4,000rpm on tap the 207 is respectable on the right lane of toll highways but it will have to make for other road hoggers willing to be captured on speed camera.

The four speed automatic transmission comes equipped with Tiptronic and a Sports mode, which is unheard of for cars sold at this price range. Normal driving mode is almost mandatory for the daily commute but if you wish to be more aggressive on the tog changes, the Sports mode is the way to go especially during over taking on the twisty back roads.

One word of caution, though, as in other cars fitted with the Sport mode, aggressive driving will quickly drained the heavily subsidised RON95 petrol from the 50 litres fuel tank.

At 4,235mm long, the 207 is not the biggest car around it fits well in the cars in the same category. Four adults will sit comfortably for long distances while three at the back are only advisable for short haul to the malls or hypermarkets.

For a late entrant into a crowded market, Nasim is offering a host of items of standard in the 207 such as an automatic climate control system, leather-wrapped steering wheel (with tilt adjustability), a multi-function display (located top centre) and four silver-trimmed, white background dial meters.

A six-speaker, single-DIN MP3/WMA CD player audio system is also standard equipment and come equipped with Bluetooth and USB.

Other standards items are dual front SRS airbags, two Isofix points for child seats, as well as sensor-activated headlamps and wipers, another first for a car in this segment. I am guessing the Isofixs come standard from the manufacturer as child seats with such mounting are way too expensive for most Malaysians consumers.

After three days with the 207, I have to question myself would I buy it? To be honest I have yet to make my mind since I am due to domestic reasons is looking for a much bigger vehicle than the normal.

Some say buying non-national cars in this segment shows a vertical movement in their social standing.

I am not too sure about this although many people still regard their choice of automobiles as a mark of their achievement in life. I buy my cars for my needs and not to show off to others. The 207 is straddled between the safe choice of Vios/

City and the Korean makes. Yes, the Japanese and Korean makes do have a higher residual value. But life is about diversity. The more the merrier, they say.

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