Peugeot 208 GTi – Review
By Liam Bird
I’m kicking myself. A couple of weeks ago I passed-up the chance to drive the new Ford Fiesta ST200 on some of my favourite roads. I’ve driven a Fiesta ST before of course, on the road, and on the track. I know just how entertaining it can be. But I’ve not driven it in ST 200 guise yet. Ah well, next time…
“But what’s any of that got to do with the Peugeot 208 GTi we have here?” I hear you ask. And surely you’ve driven one of those before? Well, yes I have, and very good it was too. But, I’ve not driven a 208 GTi in this guise before. This is a Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport.
That’s a pretty long name for what, in the metal, is quite a small car. Nevertheless this little pug packs quite a punch. As its lengthy moniker suggests it’s a Peugeot 208 GTi that’s had a further fettling by the French manufacturer’s in-house race department.
“It all feels rather sophisticated”
As result of such attention it sits 10mm lower on firmer suspension. It gains a wider track (that’s the width between the wheels) both front and rear; the front brakes, complete with bright red callipers, come courtesy of performance stopper experts Brembo. It’s been fitted with a torsen mechanical limited-slip differential on the front axle; 225/40ZR18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres literally fill up all four wheel arches; and there’s now 205 (a nod to its most famous predecessor perhaps?) bhp lurking behind what Peugeot describes as the chequered flag grille. It’s grippier and it’s quicker than the standard 208 GTi. 0-62 now takes just 6.5 seconds.
Swing open the 208’s surprisingly long door and the first thing you’ll notice, after the lairy coloured carpets that is, are the seats. It feels as if you sit lower in the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport, in heavily bolstered, alcantara covered, hard–backed buckets that hug in all the right places. They’re supremely supportive and add yet further to this little car’s more focused demeanor.
“Added finesse by the bucket-load”
There’s another bonus as a result of them too, especially so if you’re vertically challenged like me. This is the first of the saucer-sized steering wheeled-equipped Peugeots in which I’ve actually been able to see all of the dashboard dials all of the time. As for your rear seat passengers however, well, they’ll probably have an altogether different opinion of those front seats. Not only do they make access to the rear difficult for anyone anywhere near adult-sized, they also encroach heavily on what precious little rear leg room the 208 offers in the first place.
As for the rest of the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport’s cabin, it’s 208 GTi business as usual. The non-retractable tablet-style sat-nav/radio/trip-computer screen has been nicely integrated, the air-con delivers near Arctic-like cooling, and despite the odd dodgy plastic panel-gap in places – if you search hard for one that is – everything’s been screwed together with a precision that Peugeots of old could only dream of. It all feels rather sophisticated.
It all feels rather comfy too. Granted, if you find yourself driving ‘enthusiastically’ along a bumpy B-Road the firmer suspension does mean this little Gallic charm will bound around like an over-enthusiastic puppy chasing a tennis ball. But, find a smoother surface and across country and the 208 makes a formidable ally. If you bury the throttle the torque tugs at the tiny wheel, but this little car changes direction beautifully. Point its nose into a series of bends and the rear follows with unquestionable obedience.
The gearshift does have a rather long and wide gate, and on occasion, especially if you rush things, you may well find a false neutral or two. Nevertheless, regardless of which of the gearbox’s six ratios you eventually find, you’re never without enough performance to deal with the dawdlers. By tweeking their standard 208 GTi just that little bit further Peugeot have added finesse by the bucket-load. The 208 GTi represents a real return to form, and it feels like a proper hot-hatch should. Whether it’s a good as its closest rival, the aforementioned Ford Fiesta ST, I really can’t say. I do know this though…
The Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport is, quite simply, the best, most entertaining, Peugeot I’ve driven in a very long time.
Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport
Engine: 1598cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-charged petrol
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual, Front wheel drive.
Power: 205 bhp @ 6000pm
Torque: 221 lbft from 3000rpm
0-62 MPH: 6.5 Sec
Max Speed: 143 mph
CO2: 125 g/km
MPG: 52.3 (combined)