Mention the word Peugeot and hot hatch, and it won’t be long before the numbers two, oh and five come up. Unfortunately for the French company, every baby hot hatch they’ve produced since the 80s have failed to live up to the ‘iconic’ status of its fore bearer.
Yes, it really was that good. Up step then the 208 GTi, the third offering since the daddy of all hot hatches and the car Peugeot is hoping will rekindle some enthusiasm for the baby Pug hot hatch.
On the road
As you might expect it’s a lower, leaner and meaner take on its supermini sibling. It’s powered by a 200bhp turbocharged four cylinder 1.6-litre engine, meaning it would deliver a spirited sub seven second 0-60mph time.
The steering wheel is meaty but incredibly small – in fact it feels like your steering using a dinner plate, however the steering is incredibly fast, albeit the response being a little vague. The combination of wide front and rear axels and tuned suspension means it’s agile and the stability control means you can put it to the limits with reasonable amounts of confidence. The brakes are pretty good too, as too is the six speed gearbox.
Drive it carefully, and it should return an average fuel economy for over 50mpg, this will be close to halved though if you take full advantage of the performance. The ride is also surprisingly forgiving when driving around at low speed.
While the exterior doesn’t look like a small hatch on steroids, there’s enough to differentiate it for the more mainstream models in the line up. GTi badges are added on the c-pillars, harking back to the same treatment given on the old 205, and there are a few neat feaures like the styling on the grille, and even the rear daytime tail lamps have a 3d claw effect that ties in with the Peugeot lion.
The dash is neatly laid out, but the small steering wheel takes some getting used to, and for some impedes the view onto the dials. The Alcantare seats are standard and are figure hugging, exactly what you need if you find yourself flinging the car down a country lane. The steering wheel is also fully adjustable. Equipment is generious with cruise and climate control standard, as well as a 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system that features DAB, Bluetooth and a mirror screen that works with some phones. Sat nav though is a cost option.
The 208 GTi is only available as a three door and getting in the back is a little tricky and a tad compact for larger rear occupants. The boot is roughly the same size as the Ford Fiesta ST, and split folding rear seats mean that it can be extended. It’s also a decent size and shape, however should you find yourself loading heavier items, you will have to consider this high lip.
The 208 GTI is the closest Peugeot has come to reviving the magic of the 205, but it still falls down in too many areas, the biggest being price, considerably more expensive than the Ford Fiesta ST.