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Peugeot 208 GTI

 

You won’t be disappointed. The 208 GTi is a great hot-hatch.

Base price: $38,990.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo petrol four, 147kW/275Nm, 6-speed manual, front-drive, Combined economy 5.9 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 6.8 seconds.

Vital statistics: 3962mm long, 1460mm high, wheelbase 2538mm, luggage capacity 311-1152 litres, fuel tank 50 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels on 205/45 tyres.

We like: The.

We don’t like: The.

How it rates: 9/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Hot hatches are back like its 1984. There’s been an influx of pocket-rocket-type machines launched this year, and Peugeot’s 208 GTi is one of the most important, for two reasons. The first is that the original 205 GTi is acknowledged as one of the best of the genre… ever really. The second is that many of the GTi models Peugeot has sold in the nearly three decades since then have been downright disappointing.

The 208 is a neat little car: we already know that. Question is, does it work as a proper hot-hatch?

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

There is no doubt that the GTi is one perky Peugeot. Like the rest of the 208 range, it’s rather light: 1133kg, a figure which all the more striking when you consider that the 1.6-litre turbo engine makes 147kW. Conventional three-pedal manual gearbox, too.

So the 208 GTi is properly quick, even if it doesn’t always feel it. The sheer acceleration is cheeky, but the way it’s delivered is very grown-up: the engine is incredibly linear (no massive 1980s-style rush of turbo boost), the gearbox slick. It’s not even that noisy. Hot-hatch performance with family-car demeanour.

So it’s not scary. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s disappointing to drive. The chassis is similarly composed but still very talented. Peugeot has made many changes specifically for this model: wider tracks, lower ride height, reconfigured front subframe and rear stabiliser bar.

It goes, it grips, it responds to your commands. The 208 GTi is really good fun.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?

Impressive refinement means the GTi is a doddle to drive down to the shops or use as an ordinary family vehicle – notwithstanding the fact that it’s three-door-only and has a manual gearbox (although plenty of family cars in Europe conform to that template).

There are things about the car that you have to get used to, but they are common to all 208 variants and not particular to the GTi. Like the quirky driving environment, which has the main instruments set atop the dashboard and a tiny steering wheel mounted very low, so that you look over the top of it to see the dials.

The theory is that the dashboard remains in your line of sight and that there are fewer hassles adjusting the wheel so that you can look through it to the instrument panel. But it is initially weird and the size of the steering makes you feel like you’re driving a toy car. It’s a point of difference and you do get used to it.

The rest of the cabin architecture is shared with the rest of the 208 range, although the GTi trim is especially blingy with lots of bright red detailing. It’s certainly stylish and the large (for the supermini segment) eight-inch touch-screen makes the 208 a tech-head’s delight.

Just don’t go looking for anywhere to put those 1980s CDs: the 208 is one of the very few cars on the market to be bold enough to dispense with that technology altogether. Bring your own portable music device to plug in, or forget about it.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

If you do, you won’t be disappointed. The 208 GTi is a great hot-hatch, albeit a very modern-feeling one: it blends high performance and handling fun with excellent levels of comfort and refinement. To put it into context, the Peugeot is more polished and refined (if not as hugely entertaining) than the point-and-squirt Ford Fiesta ST, but more nimble than the larger, more expensive Volkswagen Golf GTI.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

Air conditioning: Dual climate

Audio: CD, iPod compatible

Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes

Blind spot warning: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Cruise control: Yes

Driver footrest: Yes

Gas discharge headlights: No

Head-up display: No

Heated/ventilated seats: No/No

Keyless entry/start: No/No

Lane guidance: No

Leather upholstery: Part-leather and cloth

Parking radar: Yes with camera

Power boot or tailgate: No

Power seat adjustment/memory: No

Rear ventilation outlets: No

Remote audio controls: Yes

Satellite navigation: No

Seat height adjustment: Yes

Self-parking technology: No

Split/folding rear seats: 60/40

Steering reach adjustment: Yes

Stop-start: No

Trip computer: Yes

Find a Peugeot 208 GTI HERE


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