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Open and shut case; Deciding factor has to be safety.

Byline: By DAVID WHINYATES

THE basic idea behind the most unusual feature of Peugeot's new 1007 city car could go a long way towards relieving congestion on busy city and suburban streets.

If every car had the little Peugeot's novel sliding doors then every road would effectively be six feet wider; cars on the move would not have to make allowances for careless drivers or passengers flinging the doors open and could make better use of the available road space.

At least, that's the theory. In practice it could be quite different.

The 1007's electricallypowered sliding doors are an innovation and, if nothing else, will make life a lot easier for getting in and out of the car in tight parking spaces.

But this new city car poses other questions.

Could drivers and passengers be at more risk when stepping out of the car?

Does the electric mechanism of the doors pose a potential threat to anyone - particularly children - who is careless enough to leave an arm, hand or leg in harm's way as the door closes?

Peugeot is confident of the inherent safety of the system and says that fail-safe measures built-in would stop the doors from closing if 'resistance' is encountered.

But journalists on the car's press launch noted that the 'resistance' required to stop the 1007's doors opening could be beyond the strength of a small child. Peugeot promised to investigate.

But the new urban runabout has another obstacle to overcome in Britain - drivers here are notoriously slow in picking up on anything that strays from the norm.

Drivers will find, however, that there's little to choose between the 1007 and a raft of other high-riding, mini-MPVlike models in this emerging sector of the market where it will compete against the likes of the Renault Modus, Fiat Idea and Honda Jazz.

The diesel version is one of Peugeot's least impressive offerings, but the 1007 is in its element in the city.

Diminutive size, light and accurate steering, high driving position, excellent visibility, pothole-absorbing suspension and lively bottom end performance make it a star performer on crowded city streets.

There's acres of head and leg room in the rear of the Tardis-like interior.

The 1007 will cost from pounds 10,850 rising to pounds 12,100 and will be available in two highly-equipped trim levels

CAPTION(S):

OPEN SESAME: Peugeot's 1007 with its sliding doors open
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Apr 8, 2005
Words:398
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