Peugeot 208 GTi review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Peugeot 208 GTi is well built, good to drive and fast. Has Peugeot finally managed to recapture the spirit of the 205 GTi?

For: 
Powerful engine, crisp handling, polished ride
Against: 
Flat, mediocre steering, spongy brakes

Back in the 1980s, the Peugeot 205 GTi took the hot hatch market by storm. It was fast, fun and cheap to buy, while offering all the practicality of the standard car. However, following a disappointing Peugeot 206 GTi and 207 GTi, is the 208 GTi the car to recapture the magic of the 80s?

Powered by a turbocharged 197bhp 1.6-litre engine, the Peugeot 208 GTi arrived in 2013, aimed squarely at the Renault Clio RS and Ford Fiesta ST. It's good to drive and relatively cheap to run, with room for four and all their luggage.

While it certainly lives up to its hot hatch tagline, the Peugeot 208 GTi has always lacked the sharp edge of Ford's ST, feeling more comfortable and refined, but less playful as a result. In December 2014, Peugeot launched the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition, adding more power, bigger brakes and lower suspension. We reckon it's the car Peugeot should've made from the start. Despite it's £3,000 premium, it's the pick of the GTi range.

Like the Fiesta, the Peugeot 208 GTi is only available as a three-door. To set it apart from the standard 208, Peugeot fits the 208 with a unique 3D chequerboard grille, beefier bodywork, and sports seats. 

Our choice: 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition

Styling

4.2

Despite the aesthetic enhancements over the standard Peugeot 208, the GTi looks pretty understated, especially when compared to the up-in-your-grille Ford Fiesta ST. In fact, it looks more like a premium supermini than a traditional hot-hatch from a distance, but that changes as you get closer.

Up front, the Peugeot 208 gets a smart looking 3D chequerboard grille, and the lower bumper is finished in red. Chrome wing mirrors, 17-inch ‘diamond Carbon’ alloys and extended sills and wheel arches beef up the profile, while an extended roof spoiler and a double exhaust pipe finish off the rear. Completing the external updates is a red GTi badge near the back window - a nod to the old 205 GTi.

Step inside the Peugeot 208 GTi, and the only colour scheme available is black and red. Peugeot isn't shy in letting you know the 208 you're driving is a GTi, either - the GTi logo is embossed onto the sports seats, on the door sills and at the bottom of the steering wheel. 

Peugeot has always been an innovative firm, and this shows in neat touches that are dotted around the cabin of the 208 GTi. Highlights include the illuminated LED strips around the dials and the chunky metal knob for the gearlever. Another innovative feature is the touchscreen, which dominates the centre of the dash. It’s similar to that found in the bigger Peugeot 308.

However, if it's bold styling you're after, then opt for the brash 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition. It's comes with unique alloy wheels, matte black trim and bespoke bucket seats. You also get the option of boy-racer two-tone black/red paint.

Driving

4.4

The 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet of the Peugeot 208 GTi is a feisty unit. Churning out 197bhp, it pulls hard from low down in the rev range and in general, feels happy to be worked hard - extracting its full potential is good fun. If that's not enough, you can go for the more powerful 30th Anniversary model, with 8bhp more and a welcome 25Nm boost in torque.

In corners, the standard 208 GTi has superb stability and this is down to the stiffer, lower suspension and wider front and rear track that Peugeot fits - there’s so much grip you can simply blast through bends following your chosen line.

Peugeot 208 GTi interior

The brakes on the 208 GTi are good and the six-speed manual gearshift is slick, but the steering, despite tweaks from Peugeot making it heavier than in the standard 208, could do with heftier weighting and greater feedback. Still, it’s accurate and quick to respond, plus in combination with the light clutch it makes the 208 GTi easy to drive in town. Opt for the 30th Anniversary model and you'll benefit from a set of brilliant Brembo brakes and a trick Torsen differential.

The suspension on the standard GTi makes it an easy hot hatch to live with, because the 208 deals with bumps much better than most of its hot hatch rivals. The 30th is firmer, but shouldn't pose too many problems if you want to use it every day. Overall both cars are tons of fun on the right roads, but docile enough to be driven every day.

Reliability

3.8

In the past, Peugeot had a reputation for being flaky both in terms of reliability and build. To suggest they'd be able to match the German manufacturers for both would get you laughed at.

Happily, things have improved a lot in recent years, as Peugeot has made massive gains with the interior quality of the 208 range. The GTi should be no different, you can expect it to stand up to the rough and tumble of family life, or whatever else you might fancy throwing at it. In fact, the mix of upmarket materials and solid construction found in the 208 GTi makes the interior of rivals such as the Renaultsport Clio feel low rent. 

Peugeot also claims it has made its testing process more rigorous, which should help avoid any mechanical niggles within the first few years of buying the car. Despite being a performance model, there’s no reason why the 208 GTi should be any more prone to problems than the rest of the 208 range.

Practicality

3.8

As it's only available as a three-door, the Peugeot 208 GTi is a little less practical than the standard car, which can be chosen as a five-door. It does, though, look very good as the three-door body gives it a sporty profile.

Despite having slightly smaller external dimensions than the Clio, the 208 is almost exactly the same size inside as the Renault, with just enough room for four adults.

The boot is 285 litres - roughly the same as the Ford Fiesta - and folding the split/fold rear seat increases the amount of room to 1,076-litres.

One criticism is that Peugeot has made the steering wheel in the 208 small so the instrument cluster is clearly visible over the top of the rim. However, like the standard car, the top of the chunky wheel in the Peugeot 208 GTi obscures the speedometer and rev counter, which quickly becomes frustrating. 

Some people may also find the bolsters on the base of the sports seats a little bit uncomfortable, which is a shame because otherwise they are very comfy to sit in. What's more, like many French cars, the fusebox is mounted in the glovebox, meaning there's precious little space for anything else.

Running Costs

4

Despite churning out almost 200bhp, the Peugeot 208 GTi is pretty wallet-friendly. Its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, low kerb weight and polished aerodynamics all contribute to a combined cycle fuel economy of 47.9mpg, with 139g/km of CO2 emissions. From 2015, tweaks to the engine will boost economy to 52.3mpg, while emissions will drop to 125g/km.

Like any quick car, though, drive the 208 GTi hard or mainly around town, though, and expect to see fuel economy tumble to less than 30mpg.

Peugeot doesn't offer a fixed price servicing package for the 208 GTi, so maintenance won't be cheap. However, it's not all bad news because our experts predict that the 208 GTi will hold onto nearly 50 percent of its new value after three years motoring.

Disqus - noscript

They should have added "It's French" in the 'against' column.

One could put whatever the country of manufacture is in the "against" column. Let's be a little more grown up!

I really think Pug could have and sould have done more with the look of this new GTi - If I saw this in my rear view mirror I wouldn't really know it was a GTi. More agressive/bespoke GTi styling would have been a wise addition, in the same style as the new Fiesta ST/Renault Clio RS.

What I'm against is twits and non - genuine car enthusiasts like you making pointless comments on A.E.

Talking about pointless comments...

I take it you haven't had the privilege of experiencing cheap French plastic in an automobile before?

And cheap British, German, Italian, Japanese, you name it, I have experienced it! I share Sam1's sentiments entirely but would not have said so had you not prolonged the issue.

Pathetic, cheap, unreliable boring French death trap. Pure filth and waste of money. Only a retard would buy this.

And another one has joined in! I agree with your comments about this vehicle and also about the spiteful nonsense which gets posted here.

Nice to see something a bit different from the dull and more common offerings from some other manufacturs. Nice one pug.

I agree, very plain Jane looking, arches look cheap and nasty too along with the plastic chrome.

If the reviewers stop trying to pitch the 208 GTI against the legendary 205 GTI only then we can really see what this car is like. I think its pretty good. Of course not as good as the...

Okay, so compare it to the 205GTi, but only if you had the pleasure of driving one, I doubt most reviewers these days have. The 205 GTi 1.9 was a dream car and a true GT. It was very comfortable over long distances, quick to go and to stop, cheap to run (other than tyres every 8k), looked good for the era, sounded great and was very reliable. I doubt the 208 will ever come close to having any of these attributes, but then again I haven't driven one, but after the 407sw I had where virtually everything had to be replaced due to breakdown, I will go with my hunch.

do us a favor mate and grow up.

I have had this car on demo for 1 week now as I work in the industry. Having owned a 205 GTI and a 106 GTI this really does feel like a true GTI. Loads of fun, really quick and agile through the corners. Great looking. Only faults for me are the seats could be a little lower and firmer and would have loved to see the red carpets as in the 205. This car is the best effort so far to bring back the GTI since the 106 in my opinion.

Why is luggage capacity measured in litres? I thought litres was for liquid measurements! Go back to the old system and screw the EU!

I drove one last month and very impressed, especially the fact its a manual! Looks good, drives well and a good bit of lift. Love the interior! I am pleased to say that I would prefer it to my 200 Cup!

The 208 GTi is a good little car in its own right, but please please please stop comparing this car to the old 205 GTi. The 205 would barely count as a warm hatch by today's standards. If you're looking for a modern car that recaptures the magic of the iconic 205 GTi you need to look at something like the Suzuki Swift Sport: low weight, low power, rev happy, and awesome chassis. The current crop of circa 200PS 1.6L Turbo hot hatches (Fiesta ST, Clio RS200, 208 GTi, Cooper S etc...) are technically brilliant, but comparing them to their 80's forebears is like comparing your iPod to a gramophone.

Last updated: 3 Dec, 2014
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