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Peugeot 1007 1,6 2-Tronic

by CAR magazine on 01/02/2006

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In the past, Peugeot, with its conservative attitude and preoccupation with quality, was often referred to as “the French Mercedes-Benz”. Time has moved on, and these days nobody could call the company from Sochaux – nor, for that matter, its Stuttgart counterpart – conservative. There’s still a focus on quality but, in their nowadays often different market segments, both firms occasionally come up with new models that can have quite an “off the wall” character.

That’s why the Peugeot 1007 kept reminding us of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. They’re both compact cars and, though the technological focus is different, both involve innovative thinking that may, or may not, be taken up by rivals. In Mercedes’ case, no-one else has really gone for the idea of the canted engine and under-floor “safety channel”. And, turning to the Peugeot, rivals are already questioning the raison d’être of the 1007’s electric “Open Sesame” sliding doors.

Those doors. They’re the centrepiece of the whole 1007 design. And they do work, not only allowing access in cramped parking bays, but just generally easing access for passengers and bulky loads. When slid back, the doors provide a 920 mm-long side-opening, and they protrude by less than a centimetre beyond the side mirrors.

But some CAR team members feel they open and close too slowly, and there’s also a concern that they are responsible for this city car’s fairly elevated pricing. Why not simply have manual sliders? One joker suggested it was because the 1007 is aimed at stylish Paris secretaries who simply couldn’t countenance breaking their finger-nails…

But manual sliders would mean more PT for a start. With the Open Sesame units, you press a button on the outer facia, and they close, pull the button and they open. Or the driver can use his/her remote to open and close either door. Or you can tug at the rather grosslooking outside handle, and the motor-and-cable set-up will do its thing. And the system features “anti-pinch” so, if an object gets in the way, the door will simply stop, avoiding the possibility of jammed fingers or bruised limbs…

Outside, the boxy little vehicle features eye-catching Pininfarina styling, with wraparound rear quarterlights reminiscent of the A-Class (there’s that Merc again), a raked windscreen, and a short, steeply canted bonnet tapering down to Peugeot’s trademark large, low air-intake. It stands 1,62 metes high, and is just 3,73 metres long, making it (by a few mm) the shortest four-seater highbodied hatch on the local market. The shell is also reputed to be highly crashworthy, the 1007 having scored the best-ever rating in statutory EuroNCAP crash tests.

Mechanically, the car follows standard PSA practice, with MacPherson strut suspension in front, a twist-beam axle at the rear, a four-cylinder petrol motor up front driving the front wheels, and a five-speed manual transmission, though, in this case, it features 2-Tronic, Peugeot’s auto-shift system. Currently the only powerunit on offer in South Africa is the 1 587 cm3 TU5JP4 (familiar from the Peugeot 206 and Citroën C3, among other PSA models), with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Peak outputs are 80 kW at 5 750 r/min and 147 N.m of torque at 4 000. Wheels are 6Jx15 alloy units, and the test car came with 185/60 Bridgestone Turanza tyres.

Peugeot says ease of operation and convenience was a key goal in the design of the 1007. So, in addition to the fingertip doors, the car has an interior designed for comfort and practicality. For example, the front passenger seat’s backrest can be folded against the squab, converting it into a handy workstation. And long-travel floor rails mean it can be slid forward or backwards to free up a large area of floor space, perfect for transporting large objects.

In the rear compartment, two individual seats can be slid over a distance of 230 mm, allowing plenty of legroom, or more luggage space, depending on the situation. The rear seats also tumble forward against the front seats, wagon style, to provide the maximum amount of load space. Measured with our ISO blocks, the rear luggage bay can house between 136 and 216 dm3, depending on seat position. And with the seats tumbled forward, 856 dm3 of the shoebox-like polystyrene measuring blocks can be accommodated. Unlike the side doors, the tailgate has a conventional manual operation, swinging upwards in usual hatch fashion.

The interior is cheerfully styled, with dark, high-quality plastic mouldings for facia and door-panel tops. An optional R2 000 Caméléo personalising pack allows you to change the ambience to one of 12 different trim styles. Each kit consists of two facia panel mats, four air-vent covers, two door-panel covers, two rear storage covers, and eight seat covers. The transformation from one theme to another requires no tools, and takes just a few minutes.

Instrumentation is conventional, and housed in a binnacle viewed through the steering wheel. Minor controls are conventional Peugeot stalks, but there’s no columnmounted remote for the sound system, presumably because this would clash with the aluminium paddles for the 2-Tronic gearshift. Locally, 1007 is only available with the 2-Tronic two-pedal microprocessor- controlled manual gearshift system, which offers the choice of full automatic-style operation, or “clutchless” manual gearchanging using the console-mounted lever or the paddles behind the wheel.

You sit high up, MPV-style, in the 1007, with a commanding view of the road ahead – and of everything around you, thanks to the large glass area and low beltline. The engine idles rather roughly, but smooths out as the revs rise. Steering is light and precise, and the motor is very flexible, ideal for easy driving in traffic.

A great cruiser, the 1007 returns good consumption figures, the CAR fuel index working out to 8,2 litres/100 km. But, with a small 40-litre tank, range is only around 500 km.

On twisty roads, the car handles well once one has acclimatised to the vehicle’s high stance. The front pushes at the limit, and a throttle-lift is all it takes to bring it back in line. Sudden lift-off in slippery conditions can make the rear move appreciably. Ride is well-damped, even firm, but there is little jarring on bumpy surfaces.

Leave the gearshift in auto mode, and you’ll get the typical jerky change offered by such systems, unless you ease off on the accelerator in sympathy with the actual shift. The same applies should you opt for the manual mode, only it’s easier to time the sympathy lift, much as one does when changing gears with a conventional manual clutch-and-lever set-up. With practice, changes can be smoothed out completely, and the CAR team, though not really fans of such systems, agreed that the PSA version is one of the better ones.

However, for optimum acceleration, it is best to keep the right foot planted and endure the jerks – this formula provided the best acceleration times, the still-tight test car getting to 100 km/h in 13,63 seconds, completing the kilometre in 34,78 seconds, and motoring on to record a two-way average top speed of 181 km/h. Though pedal feel is a touch sharp until one acclimatises, braking ability is good. The four-wheel ABSmodulated discs brought the 1007 to rest in an average of 3,06 seconds in our strenuous 10-stop 100- to-zero emergency braking test.

Test summary

Relatively expensive, but a lot cheaper than the Mercedes AClass, and unique in its styling and layout, the 1007 will appeal to trendy city-dwellers who need a car completely at ease in traffic, but capable of undertaking longer journeys in comfort as well. Quirky-looking, easy to drive, practical to load and economical, it does exactly what its target market would expect. And we suppose you could always buy the light commercial-based Peugeot Partner/Citroën Berlingo or Renault Kangoo if you really wanted manual sliding doors…