The new Peugeot 207 was launched Thursday, as the French automaker's new entrant in the ultra-competitive B-segment of the new car marketplace.

Peugeot suffered declining sales in 2005, down 1.6 percent worldwide and 5.4 percent in its core market of western Europe.

The 207 will compete in a rapidly growing and very crowded market, against the Renault Clio III (European Car of the Year), Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, Toyota Yaris, Audi A2, Mazda2, Mitsubishi Colt, Nissan Micra, Rover 25, Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, and Smart ForFour, as well as the C2 and Pluriel models of sister company Citroen. The 207 is built on the same platform as the Citroen C2, C3 and Pluriel.

In his keynote address at last week's Los Angeles auto show, Ford Americas head honcho Mark Fields identified the B-segment as the Next Big Thing in the U.S. car market. If he's right, he will have a host of experienced (and hungry) potential competitors to contend with.

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