Between September 18 and 28 of this year, a friend and I rented a 2008 Peugeot 207 CC (Coupe/Cabriolet) in Europe and drove it more than 4000 km (2600 miles). This is a review of that car.
We picked the 207 CC up at the Frankfurt airport, where the Sixt rental agent said the car was neither a diesel nor turbocharged. Expecting to find something lame like a 1.6 L naturally aspirated gasoline engine with a 4 speed automatic, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the car had a 5 speed and was a HDI turbo diesel.
The fact that it was a diesel was initially lost on me, because when my friend started the car (cold engine) I sniffed the car's exhaust and could not detect any diesel smell. Not at all. Opening the hood revealed the HDI powerplant. So does Peugeot's Filtre a Particules (FAP) system work? You bet!
The 207 CC comes with a 110 HP HDI that displaces 1560 cc and generates 240 Nm of torque at 1750 RPM. This is said to give the heavy little car (close to 1400 kg dry, a little over 3050 lbs) a 193 km/h top speed and give a 0-100 km/h (62.1 MPH) time of just under 11 seconds. Subjectively the car felt faster than that, especially when in the peak torque band. Fuel economy is officially 5.2 L/100 km (45.2 MPG US) overall: 6.6 L/100 km (35.6 US MPG) in the urban test and 4.4 L/100 km (53.4 US MPG) on the highway cycle. Based upon the car's very accurate fuel consumption computer (it is actually slightly pessimistic!), these claims are accurate.
The CC roof is very well engineered as far as we could tell and retracts fully in about 25 seconds. Before retracting, the luggage roller screen has to be deployed in the trunk in order to ensure that the folded roof has enough room. We had 6 pieces of luggage with us and only my hard-sided Samsonite Silhouette suitcase was too big to fit in the car's trunk with the roof down, so it stayed in the 207's vestigial rear seat when the roof was lowered. This was not a handicap at all, because when we stopped in a town or for a meal, we just put the hardtop up and left the suitcase in the back seat (although there would have been plenty of room in the trunk for it with the roof up).
The 207 CC is more of a cruiser than a sports car, but it handled well enough (better than my smart) and the shifting was crisp and precise. Scuttle shake was commendably absent, and sealing was very good with the hardtop in the raised position, though the rear side windows seemed to have a minor air leak that became slightly more audible at speeds substantially above 120 km/h (75 MPH). It rained heavily once during the trip, for about an hour when we were driving from Barcelona to Aiguablava on the Costa Brava, and the car was watertight.
The first destination, immediately after picking the car up at the airport was Mulhouse France. We headed south on the Autobahn A5, but it was a bad choice for two reasons: it is often heavily choked with traffic which eliminates much of the fun of driving in Germany, and we were unlucky enough to encounter a minor collision that delayed us for 45 minutes. Once into France just south of Wissembourg and west of Rastatt, the town where the Mercedes-Benz A and B Class cars are built, the sailing was smooth and the top was down. We stopped in the scenic village of Riquewihr on the way down and then spent the late afternoon admiring the 100+ Bugattis in the Schlumpf collection in Mulhouse. There are a few Mercedes and Peugeots there too, not to mention the amazing Panhard CD, the most aerodynamic production car ever built, with a Cd of 0.13 (built 1963-64).
The next day, we dropped the top and headed to Beaune. What a beautiful town the capital of Burgundy is. We went to the market in the old town, admiring the cheeses and truffles, bought some 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin for home and then carried on south past Lyon and stopping again at the Pont du Gard near Nimes. This Roman aqueduct used to be open for anyone to climb on but it seems that the French have discovered the joys of liability, as the top is now cordoned off with fencing, so you cannot walk on top as you could as late as 1995.
Back in the car, we crossed into Spain near dusk, drove on the 120 km/h Autopista to Girona, turned onto country roads and ended up at the Parador Nacional de Aiguablava near Begur Spain. This is a fantastic hotel on a promontory overlooking one of the more scenic coves on the Costa Brava. We stayed there two nights and their breakfasts were fantastic. I highly recommend the Paradors to anyone planning a visit to Spain.
On Sunday the 20th we got up early and drove the topless 207 down some wonderfully twisty roads to Sant Feliu de Guixols, a truly beautiful spot. The weather was great, over 80 degrees F and sunny. This would be a perfect place to own a Peugeot Cabriolet and we saw quite a few of them while we were there. I stopped at a beach we used to frequent 35+ years ago for a swim in the warm Mediterranean Sea. Half of the beach was "Nudista" and lots of young people were taking the sun all over, some in spots I would think one would not want to be tanned. We ended up in Barcelona by mid-afternoon and checked out the quarter of the city by the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's masterpiece, still under construction. It was during the drive back to the Parador that we encountered a brief but torrential downpour that was not causing any problems with the car.
The next day we drove up to the southern suburbs of Paris, over the famous Millau Viaduct on the otherwise free-from-tolls Autoroute A75 (6 Euro toll for the viaduct - well worth it). Further up the map, we stopped to see Eiffel's industrial revolution masterpiece, the Garabit Viaduct, a 19th Century railway bridge in the Massif Central. Up the old N-7 highway, France's Route 66, we arrived at Dampierre near Melun late in the evening, taking about 50 minutes to find a well-hidden Campanile hotel!
Paris can be a challenge for any car, but the 207 CC took the typical emboutillage (traffic jam) on the Boulevard Peripherique in its stride. We parked under the Champs-Elysees in a DeVinci parkade with TINY spaces that made the 207 CC feel like a Hummer H1, and thereafter spent 6 happy hours in warm and sunny Paris on foot. I had a set of "404 COUPE" license plates made up at La Malle Pour Tous on the Avenue de la Grande Armee, 5 minute service and 31 Euros, not bad. Finding French plates in black these days is nearly impossible so it was great to get them. French plates are being homogenized by the Eurocrats so soon the black plates - presently being available only for collector vehicles - will be phased out entirely.
After that, we went off to our second Campanile hotel north of Arras. It was on the A1 Autoroute next to a TGV high speed rail line line. The sound that a TGV makes when passing by at 320 km/h (200 MPH) is like a jet fighter minus the engine noise. Very impressive. The hotel was well enough insulated that we didn't get disturbed by the TGV later on.
The next day we drove to see the Canadian WWI memorial at Vimy Ridge. It is a solemn place made even more so because a family member is memorialized on the monument. The last time I was there, in September 2005, the entire monument was covered up like a leaky condo, so it was nice to see this magnificent structure restored to its rightful condition. An excellent use of Canadian tax dollars, might I add.
After that we had to hit the Autoroute A4 for three hours to make a lunch date with old family friends in Metz. We got there about 20 minutes late, had a fantastic meal drowned in ap?ritif and wine (fortunately my friend was the designated driver, hee hee) and after a mere 2.5 hours of eating and chatting we were off to see a very close friend in Germany. We hit over 200 km/h (124 MPH) for a second time on the Autobahn. Interestingly, we saw no police highway patrols at all during our travels on the motorways of Europe. Photo radar took care of speeders in France (limit is 130 km/h - 81 MPH - so no worries), so presumably the Flics (French coppers) and Polizei are busy doing other things such as solving crimes.
The following day we spent at the IAA car show in Frankfurt. That is a whole story in itself so I will leave ot for another time, if anyone here wants to read about it.
But I still want to say a bit about the Peugeot RCZ sports car I saw at the IAA show. It is a fantastic-looking vehicle despite having a relatively big mouth, as do most recent Peugeots, but the overall effect of the styling is remarkably good. The double bubble roof is a stroke of styling genius, and carrying these curves onto the rear window is just stunning. The bubbles serve a purpose too, giving excellent headroom for someone my size as well as making the meager headroom in the rear jump seats a bit better. The version of the RCZ to get would be the HDI diesel I think, with 163 HP, 340 Nm of torque, 0-100 km/h in 8.7 seconds and a top end of 216 km/h, it scores a 5.3 L/100 km (44 US MPG) rating overall in the NEDC fuel consumption test, only 0.1 L/100 km more than the 207 CC we rented. That means that the highway rating is in the low 4.x L/100 km range (64 MPG). 22,227 Euros ($36 K CAD) is the pre-tax starting price for the 155 HP gasoline version. This car is lighter and more aerodynamic than the 207 CC we were driving around Europe, so it should be quite economical, despite having a fair turn of speed.
Back to the 207 CC......we drove it the day after the show down to the new Porsche museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. This museum is great and well (along with the nearby Mercedes museum) worth a visit if you are anywhere near it. We were able to get some more 200 km/h plus action in the 207 CC on the way to and from the museum (the Autobahn A 81 is usually a good spot for some speed runs at least between Wuerzburg and Heilbronn, being light on traffic).
We spent a couple more days in the beautiful Franconia part of Bavaria, topping it off (literally) with a visit to the Kreuzberg monastery and its super beer brewing monks. Good stuff! On our last day, we drove in my German friend's 1956 Peugeot 203 Commericale wagon to an old car show near Wuerzburg.
Another note on fuel consumption: the 207 CC has three readouts for fuel economy:
1. trip economy No. 1, with average speed as well as cumulative L/100 km and a third parameter that I forget!
2. trip economy No. 2, similar to the above
3. instantaneous fuel consumption with distance to empty as well as distance to the (user-programmed) destination.
While neither of us was in a hypermiling mood, this car would be good at it. A couple of anecdotes about instantaneous fuel consumption:
1. while cruising at a steady 160 km/h with the top up, the fuel economy readout was varying between 6.7 and 6.3 L/100 km on flat ground.
2. while cruising at a steady 90-100 km/h on a D-road in France, with flat ground with the top lowered, the same FE readout showed a consumption of between 4.1 and 3.9 L/100 km.
These figures are quite astonishingly good for what is after all a quite heavy and solid little car. In fact I would bet that this car is a match for a smart cdi in Canadian highway conditions - driving at between 100 and 120 km/h, I think the 207 HDI would beat a smart cdi. In the city the tables would be turned, but I would imagine that the 207 would at worst consume about 1.5 L/100 more than a smart cdi in typical city usage.
Following all that and with 6 bags full of European booty (paid for of course!) we made our way in the early hours of Monday the 28th back to the airport, reluctantly giving up the key to the 207 CC, which saw us drive 4060 km in ten days at an average fuel consumption of 5.85 L/100 km (40.2 US MPG), all speed runs and Paris traffic etc included, which considering the very fast and hard driving is remarkable.
The 207 CC is a great car and I wish it was available (along with the delicious RCZ) here. My travel partner, driver of a newish Mazdaspeed 3, said he'd trade it in on a 207 CC in a flash. Did you read that, Peugeot? Probably not ....
I myself drove a Peugeot 407 for 17'000 km in the summer of 2008. During this time I spent much time on the A5, driving back and forth between Frankfurt and Paris, as well as making a stop in Nimes, also visiting the Pont du Gard
I'll have to write up a review on my 407 rental at some point, I thoroughly enjoyed that car, averaging about 6.3 L/100 km over the course of 7 weeks. This was a HDI diesel as well, with a silky smooth 6 speed manual and a top speed of 220 km/h. If I was in the market for a new car and the Peugeot was available here in Canada, I would buy one.