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Review: Peugeot 207 S16

Rally fans will love the Peugeot 207 S16 special edition. Those who like their car to maintain a low profile may not. Steve Walker takes a look.

Spectacular doesn’t do justice to the sight of an S2000 rally car in full flow on a stage of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

As the engines scream, the stone chips fly and the tyres scrabble for grip, the snarling spoilers and vivid colours or the competition cars take on a new level of drama. Unless you have a few hundred thousand Pounds kicking about, the chances of owning a car with quite this level of visual aggression are limited but Peugeot is offering rally fans the next best thing in the shape of its 207 S16 special edition.

The IRC race series takes its competitors to iconic rally locations across the globe from treacherous gravel and temperamental weather of Scotland to the wide open spaces of Argentina and the snaking mountain roads around Monte-Carlo. It’s a monumental test of man and machine and in 2007, 2008 and 2009, it was Peugeot works team driver Kris Meeke that dominated proceedings in his 207 S2000. The Peugeot 207 S16 is a special edition version of the 207 supermini created to honour the achievements of Kris and the team. It’s got the looks of the all-conquering 207 S2000 racecar without the expense or the terrifying performance.

Unlike the 207 S2000 racer, a car furnished with a 280bhp 2.0-litre engine and stripped down to the bare necessities of going very, very quickly, the 207 S16 is based upon the 207 Sport and its 1.6-litre VTi powerplant. It’s an altogether cosier proposition and more practical for those moments when you’re not careering down an Alpine pass, trying to stay on the right side of a 1,000ft drop.

"The 207 S16 doesn’t have the fearsome performance of its race-winning relative but the 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine gives an acceptable turn of pace"

The 1.6-litre variable valve-timing engine is a smooth and free-revving unit with 120bhp that can take the 207 from standstill to 60mph in 10.7s. It’s not what you would class as hot hatchback pace, more mildly warmed-over, but there’s nothing mild about the way the 207 S16 looks.

This car can be specified with full rally graphics, vinyl transfers that mimic the livery of the 207 S2000 rally car. The striking red, white and blue design is centred around the rear wheelarches and is guaranteed to turn heads. Those graphics are a no cost option on the 207 S16 but standard on all models is Bianca White paintwork and a full 207 RC Cup bodykit which includes spoilers front and rear, side skirts and an air diffuser stamped into the back bumper. A special mesh grille and dark tinted windows also features and a set of 17" Hockenheim alloy wheels round things off.

The cabin of the S16 has a special badge signed by Kris Meeke himself, otherwise it’s largely the same layout as the standard 207 Sport. The steering column has a good range of adjustment but it might still be difficult for taller drivers to get comfortable behind the wheel and rear legroom is a little pinched. Build quality is reasonable and the upgraded trim materials on this model do a lot to help raise the tone inside. The 270-litre boot capacity is a shy of the leading superminis but the space is uniformly shaped and easy to access.

Peugeot has been tip-tapping away on its calculator and come up with a £1,200 valuation for all the extra styling features added to the S16 special edition. That’s in addition to the standard specification of the 207 Sport. With pricing just £500 over that of the Sport model, the S16 looks to have the value for money angle nailed down. The car comes only in the three-door bodystyle and is available with black leather trim for less that £700 on top of the basic asking price.

All 207 models get a healthy package of equipment with air-conditioning, remote central locking, a trip computer and a CD stereo. While the S16 also gets the chrome exhaust, sports seats and other features that come with the Sport model. With only 250 models due to be sold in the UK, it should have the exclusivity and the wow-factor that tends to appeal in the sporty supermini market.

There’s no doubt that 1.6-litres is a big engine by supermini standards but the variable valve timing technology allows buyers to have the benefits a larger powerplant affords without a massive downside in terms of running costs. The 120bhp 207 S16 can still return a creditable 46mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions come in at 145g/km. With insurance in group 6, overall running costs will be low for a car that looks like it’s just rolled off a rally stage.

Peugeot is rightly proud of its exploits in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge over the last few years. In the hands of driver Kris Meeke, the 207 S2000 race car has dominated proceedings and now Peugeot is letting its customers grab a piece of the action. The Peugeot 207 S16 special edition mirrors the looks of the all-conquering IRC winning car right down to the striking graphics around its hindquarters. With strictly limited numbers available and priced at a modest premium over the standard Sport model, it should go down well with motorsport fans.

The 207 S16 doesn’t have the fearsome performance of its race-winning relative but the 1.6-litre VTi petrol engine gives an acceptable turn of pace coupled with manageable economy and insurance for the younger drivers to whom the car might appeal. It might look extreme but it’s quite sensible below the surface.

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