In a year when commercial vehicle launches are few and far between, the arrival of the new Peugeot 207 van is something of a welcome relief.
The microvan sector may be fairly small in comparison to others – out of 327,000 vans sold in the UK last year, just 6,500 were in this class – but the manufacturers are nevertheless putting a great deal of effort into their new offerings.
And pretty smart they are too.
Earlier this year we saw the arrival of the new Vauxhall Corsavan to take on a very competent Ford Fiestavan that has been around for a few years now – and now we have this vehicle which is the replacement for the old 206 van.
In the pages of this very magazine not four months ago I described the Corsavan as king of the tiddlers but having driven the 207, now I’m not so sure.
The fact of the matter is that both vehicles are such worthy contenders that you couldn’t get a fag paper between them when deciding which is better.
Viewed from the front, the 207 could almost be a sports car.
Its wide grille and slash cut headlamps give the vehicle a chic, stylish look while inside the black and silver interior echoes the racy exterior.
The sporty pretensions continue with a high-mounted dash and seats which are slung low, with plenty of figure-hugging support.
The new 207 van boasts a range of three different engines – a 1.4-litre HDi common rail diesel with 70bhp on offer, a 1.6-litre HDi offering 90bhp and a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 75bhp. Our test model featured the more powerful diesel unit.
The latter means that the new 207 van can be converted to run on LPG, allowing buyers not only to show their green credentials, but also to receive a 100% discount on the London congestion charge.
All the engines are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with ratios selected to match individual engine characteristics.
Standard specification is high for a van of this type, with driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS brakes and emergency brake assist (EBA) included in the basic price of between £7,995 and £9,295 ex-VAT.
Meanwhile, ESP traction control, the device which helps correct the vehicle in the event of a sideways skid, is available as an option at £350.
In the cab, standard spec includes electric front windows, adjustable steering column and a good quality radio/CD player, while options include cruise control with speed limiter at £127, air conditioning at £425, a five-disc CD autochanger at £195, full height bulkhead at £85 and a full length load cover at £46 (all prices ex-VAT).
An alarm adds a further £170.
In the rear end, the new 207 van will swallow 1.1 cubic metres of cargo, setting it ahead of the rival Ford Fiesta van, with a load volume of 1.0 cubic metres and the new Vauxhall Corsavan, which trails behind at 0.92 cubic metres.