What is it?
You’ve got to feel for Peugeot. For two decades they’ve been criticised by us journos for not producing a worthy replacement for the iconic 205 GTi. The 206 GTi looked rather tasty but failed to deliver in the driving department, while the 207 GTi was both wrong to look at and to get behind the wheel of. So you can imagine our nervousness to agree with the marketing hype of the new hot 208. Is ‘the GTi back’? Yes it is.
What’s under the bonnet?
It’s an engine anyone interested in cheap-to-run hot hatches will be familiar with. It’s the 1.6-litre turbocharged unit developed by Peugeot Citroen that has been used in a plethora of French-made machines, not forgetting the Mini Cooper S. Peugeot uses a 200bhp setup in the GTi – just like the Citroen DS3 Racing – which means it’ll hit 60mph in 6.7 seconds – 0.4 seconds quicker than the 207 GTi and 1.1 seconds faster than the original 205 GTi. Top whack is 143mph, CO2 emissions are a respectable 139g/km and combined MPG is 47.9.
What’s the spec like?
There’s just one well kitted-out version. List price is a competitive £18,895 and it comes with 17-inch alloys; rear spoiler; DAB radio; Bluetooth; rear parking sensors; unique LED indicators; leather steering wheel; half-leather sports seats; lots of red trim inside and dual-zone air conditioning.
What’s it like to drive?
The GTi bears no comparison to cooking versions of the 208 (like our long-termer) with a punchy engine, taut chassis and a steering system that has a tremendous amount of feel through it. On our Welsh test route we had immense fun throwing the GTi into corners, feeling it slide and then grip. It dances around bends just like a hot hatch should.
What do the press think of it?
The Sun said: ‘With the GTi, Peugeot has rediscovered the fun factor in some style. The more time I spent throwing the GTi around, the bigger my smile became.’
What do we think of it?
We’re very pleased to say Peugeot has finally pulled it off – this is a worthy successor to the 205 GTi. It would seem it has taken Peugeot over 20 years to finally stick its GTi badge on a car that deserves to wear it, and those old 205 GTi owners who want a modern day replacement could do a lot worse than spend their cash at a Peugeot dealer. We’ll be very interested to pitch the car against its chief rivals but for now we’re happy – the 208 GTi succeeds in that tricky balance between fun and useability. The 208 GTi really is a car you can hoon around in and then pop to Waitrose and do the weekly shop. Welcome back, Peugeot.