Peugeot 208 GTi review
The Peugeot 208 GTi is well built, great to drive and fast. Has Peugeot finally managed to recapture the spirit of the 205 GTi?
Following the disappointing Peugeot 206 GTi and 207 GTi, Peugeot has finally managed to recapture the magic of its iconic 205 GTi hot hatch with the 208 GTi.
Powered by a turbocharged 197bhp 1.6-litre engine, the Peugeot 208 GTi is a rival for the Renault Clio RS and the Ford Fiesta ST. It's a riot to drive, thanks to Peugeot fitting wider front and rear tracks, as well as weightier steering compared to the standard car.
While it certainly lives up to its hot hatch tagline, the Peugeot 208 GTi has something of a Jekyll and Hyde character as it's equally happy to take things slower and play the family runabout.
Like its rivals, 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
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. 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.
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.
In corners, the 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.
The brakes on the 208 GTi are strong 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.
The suspension also makes this an easy hot hatch to live with, because the 208 GTi deals with bumps much better than most of its hot hatch rivals. Overall the car is tons of fun on the right roads, but docile enough to be driven every day.
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.
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.
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.
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.