ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Peugeot 208 GTi 1.6 THP 200 – The Peugeot 208 GTi is the icing on the cake of the 208 range, but is it worthy of the GTi badge. DAVID HOOPER puts one to the test.
PEUGEOT’S hot hatch story has just opened a new chapter with the launch of the performance version of its hugely successful 208 range.
The Peugeot 208 GTi went on sale in April and is the fourth model in the genre, with the French carmaker having offered a GTi version of every 200 series car since the 205.
All have been worthy, but this latest offering is truly excellent. Not only is it the quickest, but it’s also the best looking – in my opinion at least. The thought and the design detailing on a car at this price level is genuinely impressive. There are discreet Peugeot badges all over the place, coloured in GTi red on this car, the brake callipers, visible through the unique Carbone 17in alloys are also finished in red, and I still love the blade which underlines the windows – the rearmost ones being darkly tinted. Then of course, there’s the twin chromed exhaust and body coloured spoiler.
Inside, the designers have also excelled. The black dashboard top features red stitching, as does the steering wheel, which also has a red band at top dead centre, a nod to motorsport so the driver knows when the wheels are in the straight ahead position when the car isn’t! The trim around the 7in colour touch-screen of the multi-media system and the door handles is almost unique in the world of motoring – at least I’ve never seen it before! It blends from black to red, is very effective and looks great, making the interior of the Peugeot 208 GTi feel just a bit special.
The sculpted sports seats, upholstered in Club Nappa leather and Caro Weave cloth with a red dynamic line look great and are very huggy and supportive, too.
Then of course there’s the small steering wheel which it shares with its less powerful sister cars, set low with the instrument binnacle raised above the top of the wheel, sitting in the driver’s eye-line. On the 208 GTi the dials are illuminated in red and look superb.
Power comes from the familiar 1.6-litre THP engine, in this application providing a potent 200bhp at 5,800bhp.
Needless to say, it’s a very quick car – the quickest in the production GTi line to date, with a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. There’s a suitably sporting sound from the tuned exhaust system and put-you-back-in-your-seat acceleration in just about every gear, with a good spread of torque, meaning mid-range grunt is always plentiful, even without stirring the gearbox too regularly.
To find the most fun in this car though, that’s exactly what you have to do to overcome a small but noticeable bit of turbo lag – the delay between demanding power, and the engine’s turbocharger spinning up and delivering it – and then it flies. Wider and lower than previous models it feels very surefooted and instils confidence, allowing you push harder and harder into corners, and certainly on dry roads, there was no understeer in evidence.
The car always feels poised, the steering is near perfectly weighted providing just the right amount of feel and feedback, and rapid directional changes are taken in its stride, although take liberties and you can provoke a bit of lift-off oversteer and balance the car on the throttle which is great fun.
Of course you get air con, cruise control and my test car came with the panoramic glass roof and the full multi-media system which includes sat nav and Bluetooth phone integration.
The 208 GTi is a little cracker – fast, feisty and fun. A worthy successor to some of the great hot hatches Peugeot has produced in years gone by.
As you can probably tell – I loved it!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Peugeot 208 GTi 1.6 THP 200.
PEUGEOT 208 RANGE: From Access 1.0 VTi 3dr (£9,995) to Feline 1.6 e-HDi Stop and Start 5dr (£18,395).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 200bhp four-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 143mph. 0-62mph in 6.8 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 34.4mpg.
Fuel tank: 50 litres.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 139g/km.
INSURANCE: Group 30.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.