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Future models - Peugeot - 207

Baby oiler draws near

French treat: Peugeot's 207 HDi diesel packs a punch.

Peugeot will tackle Polo and Punto diesels with the 207 HDi due here early next year

8 Nov 2006

PEUGEOT will release its first light-car diesel car in Australia in the first quarter of 2007.

To be launched at the same time as the rest of the 207 hatchback series, the HDi will take on the VW Polo TDI and Fiat Punto 1.3 JTD in the light-car diesel stakes.

According to Peugeot Automobiles Australia public relations manager Mathew McAuley, the 207 HDi will be priced "very competitively" with its rivals, which both retail for around $23,000.

No diesel engine is planned for the current 206 model in Australia. This model is expected to be discontinued when supplies from the closing Ryton plant in the UK dry up by the end of 2007.

The HDi engine will be the same 1.6-litre low-particulate filter four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit also employed in the larger 307 and Citroen C4 HDi ranges.

In the Citroen, power is rated at 80kW at 4000rpm, while the 240Nm torque maximum kicks in at 1750rpm. There is also an overboost function that ups the torque top a further 20Nm.

Significantly, the 207 HDi's fuel consumption should at least match its C4 cousin's 4.7L/100km, while CO2 emissions should not exceed 125g/km.

The only gearbox on offer will be a five-speed manual for now. The French company believes that a six-speed manual gearbox is deemed too expensive for a light-car class competitor.

However, Peugeot's six-speed clutchless manual '2Tronic' transmission – a second-generation version of the Sensodrive unit utilised by Citroen in the C2 and C3 range in Australia – should follow in the not too distant future – possibly by the end of 2007.

One Peugeot insider reported that the claimed slow and jerky shifting characteristics of the older Sensodrive transmission as experienced in the Citroen cars has been eradicated in the latest versions.

An automatic 'A' function has been incorporated to further dispel any consumer resistance that the gearbox might generate, while a measurable saving in fuel consumption is another 2Tronic bonus.

The HDi unit destined for the 207 is also utilised by Ford of Europe for models like the Fiesta and Focus TDCi.

With around 90,000 variants sold so far, the success of the 207 diesel in Europe has taken even Peugeot by surprise. Initial estimates had petrol and diesel sales split 50/50, but in the first few months the latter has carved out a 70 per cent slab of the total 207 volume.

"We had more diesels sold than we had originally anticipated," admitted one senior Peugeot executive.

Nevertheless, for Australia, Peugeot is taking a more cautious stance, estimating that around 25 per cent of 207 sales will be the diesel.

"We'll be happy if the diesel achieves that," Mr McAuley said.

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