Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, felt he needed some livening up after his time with the lovely but laid-back Hyundai Ioniq last week. So, this week, he went for a blast in the Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport. Here are his thoughts on the fiery French number.
It’s not the shortest of names for a motor, but that doesn’t matter one jot, because this Peugeot 208 has enough character to make up for any shortfalls it might have. The red and black colour scheme makes the Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport stand out. I like it, but if you don’t, there’s no need to be put off because the car comes in different shades, too.
Underneath its tight, compact, sporty stance, there are loads going on. The French car-maker has added extra spice to the already blisteringly brilliant ‘normal’ 208 GTI with this ‘by Peugeot Sport’ version. Its track widths are broader, it’s lower than the usual GTI (by 10mm), and the front axle has a mechanical limited-slip differential. You don’t need to understand what that does, just take it from me that it makes this hot hatch one very sharp entertainer.
Behind the tiny steering wheel, the Peugeot’s switchgear is logically laid out and the car’s bucket seats support you in ways you never knew possible. They’re not uncomfortable, it’s just that once you’re in them – you’re in them. Don’t think you can jostle about for comfort – these chairs are designed to hold you in as though you were in a rally car. Legroom is great up front but forget the rear seats. If you’re my height (around 6-ft), you’ll ratchet the driver’s seat right back, squashing the legs of the passenger behind you. The rear is definitely better for the vertically challenged – or for two kids on booster seats.
On the move, the 208 GTI is like the normal GTI, but on a high dose of caffeine. You can hoon around country lanes and dive into corners without anybody lean or lack of grip. The car seriously handles like a go-kart. And this is mainly down to the hatchback’s stiff-as-a-board suspension. The set-up keeps the 208 GTI flat, but the trade-off is that you feel you’re going to lose a filling when the car hits any imperfection in the road surface. The Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport’s six-speed manual gearbox adds to the energetic driving experience. It can be notchy, but it makes you feel like you’re really working the Pug – and, because it’s a 208 GTI, it loves having a hard taskmaster in command.
Muscle is provided by a 1.6-litre petrol turbo four-cylinder engine – and this produces 208PS at 6000rpm. Zero to 62mph arrives in just 6.5 seconds – and the car’s top speed is 143mph. Of course, you’d lose your licence if you were to do that kind of speed, but it’s nice to know the Peugeot has real potency on tap for overtaking safely.
Due to the 208 GTI’s athleticism and astounding road-holding, you can still find excitement at level-headed speeds. Just look for a nice twisty section of tarmac and the job’s a good’un. Because it’s so brilliant, this 208 GTI is not cheap at £22,665, but it really is worth it – for the smiles alone. Why not contact one of Perrys Peugeot dealerships to find out more?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Handling √
- Traction √
- Power √
- Fun √
- Rear space X
- Max speed: 143 mph
- 0-62 mph: 6.5 secs
- Combined mpg: 52.3
- Engine layout: 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
- Max. power (PS): 208
- CO2: 125 g/km
- Price: £22,665