- Legendary badge returns
- Superb ride quality
- Composed handling
- 30th Edition great fun
- Standard GTi too soft for some
- Subtle looks with fussy detailing
- Driving position not universally liked
Peugeot’s 205 GTi achieved legendary status in the 1980s, but none of Peugeot's hot hatches that followed have been so revered. However, the French firm aims to change all this with the Peugeot 208 GTi, a car that it believes once again justifiably wears the legendary GTi moniker.
Fitted with the familiar 1.6-litre turbocharged THP engine, the standard 208 GTi produces 197bhp at 5,800rpm and 275Nm at only 1,700rpm. Complete with a six-speed manual gearbox, this package allows the Peugeot to sprint from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, while it won't stop accelerating until it hits 142mph. On the road it’s smooth, punchy and perfectly matched to the chassis’ ability.
Introduced in late 2014, the limited edition GTi 30th boasts 205bhp and 300Nm of torque from its 1.6-litre engine, offering 143mph and a dash from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. Pleasingly the limited edition 30th became part of the standard range after the 2015 facelift when it became known as the GTi by Peugeot Sport.
Talking of which, the 208 GTi boasts a number of changes over the regular models, not least in the chassis department. The front track is 10mm wider while the rear gains 20mm in total, while the upgraded 302mm front brakes do an excellent job of stopping the performance version of the 208 from its considerably higher speed. Further modifications distinguish the 30th edition, with 10mm lower suspension, wider tracks than the standard GTi and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Don’t expect wild tail-out handling like the Peugeot GTis of old though, as the entirely neutral standard 208 GTi is laden with grip front and rear, making it entirely accessible for anyone slipping behind the wheel. It’s a different story with the GTi 30th and GTi by Peugeot Sport, the front end benefitting from more grip thanks to its Torsen differential, and plenty of rear end oversteer if you lift off the throttle mid-corner.
It looks more muscular too, the addition of a subtle bodykit, rear spoiler and integrated wheelarch extensions helping differentiate it from others in the range. The trapezoidal tailpipes help finish it off, as do the 17-inch alloy wheels (matt black 18s on the 30th) and subtle GTi badges on the rear-pillar, harking back to the 205. Overall it’s a grown-up and subtle looking hot-hatch, though the bright red chin under the fussy grille design does detract from the ambiance somewhat, although this arrangement was modified as part of the 2015 facelift.
Inside, the 208 cabin retains the small steering wheel and high-level instruments, but features higher-quality and more luxurious materials throughout including sports seats finished in leather and anti-slip cloth. Standard equipment is generous, and option prices reasonable.
A comfortable hot hatchback?
The 208 GTi may have been designed to excite the driver, but the firm is keen to stress it’s a car optimised for road use rather than circuit work. It’s certainly not a hardcore hot-hatch in the mould of some of its more focused rivals, but in reality is all the better for it. Supple suspension, a comfortable cabin and a refined engine makes for an impressive package. Again the additional firmness of the GTi 30th and GTi by Peugeot Sport is noticeable but overall it remains a refined and comfortable package.
Read on for the full Peugeot 208 GTi review to find out just why its rivals should sit up and take note.