Enthusiasts who have little exposure to contemporary French cars – for example, enthusiasts from the US and Canada – tend to get the impression that all French cars are inherently quirky. That’s not always the case. While French cars are often imbued with a certain character, Peugeot, Citroen and Renault produce thousands of fairly conventional sedans, hatchbacks, crossovers and vans each year. But then once in a while the French will do something weird like this, the B-segment Peugeot 1007 MPV.
That’s pronounced “one thousand seven” and not “one double-oh seven”, thank you Barbara Broccoli and the legal team at Eon Productions. The 1007’s main claim to fame is the use of two electric sliding doors in place of four conventionally-hinged ones. It’s main claim to infamy is just how much of a profit vampire it was, its trick doors costing a lot to engineer and its sales falling way off projections. Peugeot expected at least 130,000 Europeans each year would want to snap up this quirky little MPV. Not even the total production number of 1007s over its five-year run met the initial yearly projections, Peugeot producing just 123,900 between 2005 and 2009. Renault, meanwhile, was selling two to seven times as many of its rival (and much more conventional) Modus each year. Automotive analysts found PSA lost more per 1007 than they actually charged for each one, estimating the loss at around 2 billion euros.
Were dual sliding doors a novel feature in this segment? Absolutely. Were they necessary? Not really. Peugeot was trying to make the 1007 appeal to buyers who lived in tightly-packed European cities and parked on narrow streets. To those buyers, sliding doors were a boon. Unfortunately, they took around six seconds to close – hardly ideal on, for example, a rainy day – and they added extra complexity and weight (88 pounds each). They could also be opened manually even while the car was in motion but couldn’t be powered shut above 3mph. Some decried that as being unsafe but it might’ve been handy if you were doing some abductions or drive-by shootings.
Not that you would want to use the 1007 as a getaway vehicle as it was pretty slow. The engine range consisted of 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines (74 and 108 hp, respectively) and 1.4 and 1.6 diesel engines (66 hp and 109 hp). None of these were what could be considered fast, the 1.4 mills taking around 14 seconds to hit 60 mph. The optional 2-tronic semi-automatic transmission further sapped performance; it wasn’t made available on the diesel models.
Beyond engine performance, the 1007 was also rather disappointing to drive, like many Peugeots of the 2000s. The -06 series cars of the 1990s had been superb to drive with lively handling. They also boasted clean, elegant styling. The -07 cars of the 2000s were more ungainly to behold and less engaging to drive and the dorky/cute 1007 was no exception.
In a way, the 1007 was reminiscent of GM’s first front-wheel-drive minivans, the U-Body “dustbusters”. PSA, like GM, had opted not to follow the template set by Renault who invented and popularized the C MPV segment with the Scenic and beat the 1007 to market with the B MPV Modus. Instead, PSA insisted on trying something dramatically different and couldn’t match the market leader’s success. Ironically, GM actually actually beat Peugeot and Renault to this segment with the Opel Meriva. Cleanly styled, well-packaged and devoid of pointless gimmickry, the Meriva outsold the 1007 and even did better than the Modus.
Although the 1007 was commercially unsuccessful, it did have a legacy of sorts. Perhaps inspired by the Pug’s creativity, Ford introduced its B-segment B-Max MPV with sliding rear doors and no B-pillar. Opel’s similarly-sized second-generation Meriva also tried a different tack with its doors, utilizing rear-hinged rear doors. This segment’s moment in the sun, however, was short-lived – sales have flatlined in the past few years as European buyers shift to crossovers.
These B-segment MPVs were typically just high-roof versions of existing hatchbacks (the 1007 used the Citroen C2 platform) and often offered novel interior features like sliding rear seats. The new B-segment crossovers are similarly hatchback-based albeit with a raised ride height and some unique interior elements.
None of them have dual sliding doors, though. Vive la différence!
Photographed in Vienna, Austria in September 2018.