Peugeot has been saving the GTi badge for something special since the underwhelming 207 GTi was discontinued in the UK market in 2009.
Finally, the company reckons it has produced a car worthy of the badge in the shape of this 208 GTi Concept, which has just been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
There’s no doubt where the inspiration for the hot 208 has come from. The GTi badge is proudly displayed on the rear quarter panels – just as it was on the legendary 205 GTi hot hatch back in the eighties.
But the retrospective nods to one of Peugeot’s best-loved models end there. A very modern look, with beefy wheelarches, an aggressive front grille and a large rear spoiler is the order of the day. The grille looks like a chequered flag and there’s a pair of chrome exhaust pipes.
The 208 GTi’s engine has already been seen in the RCZ coupe. The 197bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. No performance figures have been released, but expect a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds.
A special exhaust system gives this engine a burbling note in the RCZ, and a similar set-up will likely be seen in the GTi. Sharp and agile handling should also be expected, as the 208 weighs around 110kg less than the 207.
To improve the GTi’s cornering ability even further, the front and rear tracks have been widened by 36mm and the suspension will be specially modified. The larger-diameter brakes used on the 154bhp 208 1.6 THP model will also fitted to the GTi.
Peugeot has also worked hard to ensure the GTi Concept feels special from behind the wheel. The standard car’s small steering wheel is now trimmed in leather and incorporates a GTi badge plus contrasting red stitching.
The red theme continues in the dial surrounds, the dash inserts and the centre console. The dashboard itself is finished in Alcantara, while the black rooflining and aluminium pedals also add to the classy feel.
For the moment, Peugeot is still calling the 208 GTi a concept car, but we’ve already spotted prototype models being tested on the road. That means you can expect to see the hot 208 on sale by the end of this year.
By that time, it will have plenty of new and established hot-hatch rivals to contend with - from the new Ford Fiesta ST to the MINI Cooper S – all coming close to the 208’s expected £18,000 list price.