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Peugeot Proposes Small Car Revolution


Peugeot Proposes Small Car Revolution

2005 Peugeot 1007French giant Peugeot has announced details of its new small car, the 1007, which will go on sale in early 2005 after its launch at the Paris Auto Show in September. The most unusual feature of the new car is its use of electrically-operated sliding doors. These offer unprecedented access to the interior and mean the car can be parked much closer to other vehicles or walls, making parking in tight spots much easier and more convenient. Electric operation means that the doors can be opened simply by pressing on the remote control on the key fob, avoiding the manual effort required by many conventional sliding doors.

At 147 inches long and just under 64 inches high, the 1007 is a full four-seater, with an interior that has been designed to offer the maximum possibilities in terms of carrying people and loads. The two rear seats are independent and can be adjusted to provide maximum carrying space, seats for two passengers or the ability to carry long loads.

Peugeot has designed the interior for maximum individuality in terms of style as well as load-carrying - twelve different trim kits will be available, consisting of replacement trims for the seats, doors, rear side panels, air vents and fascia. Produced in striking decorative patterns and vivid colors, the trim kits will allow owners to customize the interior of their car to suit their individual tastes and to refresh it when taste changes or the interior losses its freshness. The kits are quick and easy to install and remove without the use of tools.

There will be three engine options, 1.4 and 1.6-liter gasoline and a 1.4-liter diesel, and the car will be available with an electronically-controlled four-speed gearbox that can be used as an automatic or sequential manual according to choice and driving conditions. Safety has been an important consideration in the design of the 1007 and it will be equipped with up to seven airbags. -Ian Norris

Europe's First Minivan Hits the Million

Renault EspaceOne thing is certain - the first minivan arrived in 1984; but whether you think of it as a Dodge/Plymouth or a Renault depends on which side of the Atlantic you call home. In the year that the Dodge Caravan and the Plymouth Voyager first made their contribution to Chrysler's revival, in France Renault introduced Europe's first MPV, the Espace. This year the Espace celebrates its twentieth anniversary and it has just cracked the one million sales mark.

It broke new ground when it was launched, the brainchild of Matra, a French conglomerate that started in sports and racing cars, went on to missiles and finished up as one of the world's biggest media companies, owning, among other publications, both Road & Track and Car and Driver.

Matra had originally collaborated with Chrysler, producing sports cars and a small car called the Rancho that was a front-drive SUV before SUV's had been invented. If the link had lasted, Chrysler might have pioneered minivans on both sides of the Atlantic, but the two split and Matra offered its idea of a multi-seater with a lightweight composite body to Renault. The company accepted it, seeing a useful addition to its limited upmarket range, and joined in the development of the project.

Offered initially with either a 110-hp 2.0-liter gasoline and an 88-hp diesel engine, the Espace was a slow starter in the French market. It was sold as an upscale model designed to provide a roomier alternative to a luxury sedan, unlike the Chrysler minivans, whose customer base gave birth to the phrase "soccer moms." Within a couple of years, however, the Espace ('space' in French) had built up a following and production had outgrown the capacity at Matra's plant, forcing Renault to set up additional facilities at one of its own plants.

A new generation was introduced in 1988 and another followed in 1996. The latest and most successful came in 2002, by which time Renault had taken over production completely from Matra, which closed down as a car manufacturing company last year.

The Espace has spawned a number of rivals, but it still leads the European MPV market - the third generation held an 18.5% share of its segment at the end of 2001. Today the Espace body is built of steel rather than composites and the car is sold in long and standard wheelbase versions. Following the original marketing concept, it continues to be an upscale model, with 3.0-liter V6 gas and diesel engines and luxury trim and specification. -Ian Norris

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