Peugeot 208 XY

The plush new Peugeot 208 XY supermini combines the style of the GTi with comfort and luxury

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Peugeot claims the 208 XY isn’t simply aimed at women, and the GTi at men, although judging by the purple colour scheme we’re not so sure. Yet whoever it’s targeted at, the XY is a worthy addition to the supermini range – the improved handling, sporty looks transferred over from the GTi and long list of standard equipment mean it feels like more than just another trim grade. It’s likely to spawn an entire XY family, too, with luxurious versions of every Peugeot model in the pipeline.

If you’re a fan of the Peugeot 208 GTi’s styling, but prefer your car to be plush rather than racy, then Peugeot has created the 208 XY just for you.

Designed to sit just below the GTi at the top of the 208 range, the XY gets unique styling, masses of standard equipment and chassis tweaks to improve the handling.

Park an XY next to a GTi and, from a distance, you’d be hard pushed to tell the two models apart. That’s because the XY features the GTi’s wider track (extended by 10mm at the front and 20mm at the rear), plus the same wheelarch and side sill extensions. The suspension settings are no firmer than the standard 208’s, though, to maximise comfort.

There are flashes of purple on the lion logos and 17-inch wheels (to match the Purple Night paintwork), while the wing mirrors, foglamps and window trims are all finished in chrome. The front grille differs from the GTi’s three-dimensional chequerboard pattern, too, with a wide chrome mesh.

Climb inside and the colour theme continues, with purple stitching on the seats, steering wheel, gearstick and dash. The sports seats, which are bolstered, but not as deeply as the GTi’s, are finished in cloth and Alcantara as standard, or Nappa leather as an option.

Other standard features, such as white LED lights around the instrument cluster, a seven-inch touchscreen and panoramic roof, certainly create a classy feel – it’s just a shame that the plastics on the top of the dash and doors feel brittle.

Unlike the 197bhp GTi, the XY comes with a variety of engines, including the 1.6 e-HDi with either 91bhp or 113bhp, plus a 118bhp 1.6-litre VTi petrol. We tried the 154bhp turbocharged 1.6 THP – essentially a less powerful version of the GTI’s engine, hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Driving this car back to back with the GTi, it’s obvious that the engines are related, with the same free-revving nature. Predictably, though, the XY feels sluggish in comparison, running out of grunt sooner and packing less of a punch lower down the rev range. But there’s still plenty of power for making swift, smooth progress.

Ask the XY to corner hard and the wider track offers good grip and stability, but the standard suspension settings mean there’s more lean and understeer where the GTi would stick to the road.

Take things a little slower, however, and the XY’s light steering and supple ride make much more sense – allowing you to kick back and relax in the luxurious surroundings.

Do the sums and the XY represents reasonable value for money. This £17,495 1.6 THP 156 model costs £1,400 less than the GTi, and the level of standard kit is impressive.

As well as the 17-inch alloys and panoramic roof, you get sat-nav, rear parking sensors, dual-zone air-conditioning and a prominent roof spoiler (on THP 156 models only). In other words, there’s very little need to go near the options list.

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