A Year With LeShark

b41555bd_4faacdaa62320-lightboxGood job I’m sitting at a big oak desk, I’ve just about touched every inch of the wood… Okay, so the car’s had one or two faults and a little recall in the last year, but it was nothing, and even if I had to pay for it (thank you warranty!) it would have been really minor anyway. I’m not overly sure what it actually was, the garage were really vague and the message on my Info screen just said ‘ATTENTION:- ANTI-POLLUTION FAULTY’ which I couldn’t read without hearing Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau in my head. I didn’t get any paperwork with it either, but basically, it was “a sticking solenoid on top of the engine”, a bit of research suggested that it was something to do with the Variable Valve Timing. Anyway, that was fixed whilst I waited in about 40 mins at the supplying dealer.

The other issue however was slightly more annoying, at the PistonHeads Sunday Service at BMW HQ in Bracknell it was pointed out to me that all the lacquer on the front nearside corner of the bumper and along the bottom was peeling. It looked like my car was suffering from severe sun burn… My first phone call to the dealer yielded nothing, the guy didn’t think it sounded right, what I was describing, but I was advised to call back during the week when the Service Manager was around. So I did. This is where my troubles began… The guy said that I’d obviously picked up some stone chipping and the lacquer was peeling around a chip or three and made it patently clear that it was not a warranty job, but I was welcome to bring it in for a quote. I made a further phone call re-iterating my point, however I was obviously mistaken, so I set up a meeting with the chap on a Friday afternoon as I had it off work.

On my way down from London I missed a call from the dealer, but we’ll get to that later… I think the meeting lasted less than 3 minutes, he looked at the car, got up and close to it and ate his hat, I was right, he was wrong. It wasn’t right, and they’d get it sorted the coming Tuesday. As I was working full time in an 8am-5.30pm summer job, I couldn’t drop the car in, and being 20 at the time, too young to be trusted with a Courtesy Car, so they got a local bloke to pick it up and drop it home again. Found the guy driving around the little networks of cul-de-sacs I live on whilst getting a lift to work. That annoyed me a little… Anyway car came back better than before and it’s been perfect since. Now, that phone call, they left a voice mail… “Hi Mr Waugh, its XXX Peugeot Somewhere, just to let you know that your paintwork issue isn’t covered under your warranty.” I was fuming, if only I’d heard that before leaving the dealership…

‘Shark Car’ was subject to a recall after a few months with me, just a new striker plate for the boot hatch catch (try and say that quickly…) as they worked loose and rattled/squeaked about, as mine had been doing. Nothing alarming like a software update to stop the auto lights switching off randomly and a new bonnet catch to stop the bonnet opening in motion like our 308 had…

Enough of the bad stuff eh? This isn’t a Megane update after all… Let’s talk dynamics. The Megane was marketed as being a bit ‘sporty’, a bit more fun to drive than its rivals by way of the driver sitting closer to the road than before. It was, as far as I know, there just wasn’t much time to find truth behind that claim between all the faults… The 207 hangs beneath Peugeot’s fairly long-standing ‘Drive of Your Life’ tag line, and sits at the end of a long line of seriously well selling small hatch backs. A line that’s lost its way a little on the driving dynamics front, the 205  being the last ‘fun’ Supermini from the marque. The 206 was lacklustre, but the 207 stands to try and rectify that. Has it worked? Well, sort of…

I’d really like to drive another 207, one with bigger wheels, a GT or a GTi or something, my Sport gets the 15” ‘Monaco’ alloy wheels standard on the 1.4 models, 1.6s get 16”s. I think my wheels are just a bit too small, they’re smart, yes, but shod in 185/65/R15 Michelin Energy Saver rubber they just don’t work as well as they could. The tyres are too hard, they’re noisy and they’re too tall, pressing on has it really leaning on its sidewalls and it just makes it feel unstable. The wet grip is appalling too, I wonder how much they actually contribute to its 44-54mpg… I live deep within the Surrey Hills, I use lots of smaller A-roads and winding B-roads with lots of hills thrown in for good measure, small bumps will really upset the car and send it skittering across the road, really not confidence inspiring, and REALLY annoying. Apparently they ride better on the bigger, fatter 16” wheels, if I’d had more money when I bought it, I’d have been sorely tempted to swap for some, but as I’ve had it for a year and only intend to keep it for another year, I can’t really justify the expense.

I had initially thought that the steering was pretty good, but then I drove my mate’s R56 MINI Cooper, now I hate it. It’s loose and floppy, disconnected… The MINI was perhaps a little hyperactive, jiggling about and tugging away, but that was probably more a side-effect of a narrow track and wide, 17” alloy wheels finding ruts in the road here, there and everywhere. I nearly stacked the 207 after a weekend of MINI driving, I went to turn into a parking space outside my University ‘hovel’, and it just didn’t turn. The rack could be quicker, but feel-wise, it’s not too bad.

On that MINI note, the Cooper uses the bigger BMW/PSA ‘Prince’ family N/A engine, the 120bhp 1.6, however whilst my 207 requires one-hundred-and-thirty of my pounds for road tax, the MINI only asks for ninety. Really shows how much of a difference -200kg, a 6th forward gear and Stop/Start makes… The MINI has Spot-lamps and ‘Xenon-brite headlamps’, they’re amazingly good, however I wouldn’t say the 207s are lacking, good standard bulbs there I’d say, better than the Renaults before I changed them for sure.

Another gripe lies with the clutch and the gearbox, it’s fine when warm, but sometimes baulks when trying to select 3rd gear when pressing on. I thought this might be indicative of an iffy clutch, but I can see no other evidence that points to that. However, the clutch judders like an absolute pig when it’s cold, it’s truly awful, when it warms up it gets better, but over winter it wasn’t particularly pleasant. Having spent hours sifting through threads on the 207 Owners Club website (207oc.com) it seems that these are normal occurrences, probably just cheap French parts then.

Coming up in the next couple of weeks I’ve got a 600mile+ trip from Surrey to Staffordshire via London/Kent with 4 Uni mates to celebrate the end of University, there’s next to no leg room behind me, and moving my seat forwards hinders my ability to operate the clutch properly due to long legs and really high-mounted pedals. Hopefully we and our luggage will fit. We were supposed to take a Freelander Station Wagon, but it broke… Size-wise the 207 is okay, I find it comfy enough, the big-bolstered sports seats are great, headroom in the rear isn’t bad either. Unfortunately I sit too far back (I’m 6ft 4) and can’t fold the rear seats unless I remove the squabs, which is a little annoying, but no biggie.

I’m still happy with the car, hopefully it’ll continue to work properly, though currently I need to polish out some scratches from roof and replace the wiper blades after a Pheasant dive-bombed me at 60mph whilst the wipers were mid-sweep, snapping them. Grr.

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Tom Waugh