Ford Fiesta ST ST-3 : Fiesta Versus Peugeot 208 GTi

  • We pitch our Fiesta ST-3 against hottest Peugeot 208 Gti yet
  • French car impresses with its limited slip differential and other Peugeot Sport parts
  • Fiesta, even with Mountune upgrade, is still far cheaper though

We’ve done this once before, pitching a Ford Fiesta ST against a Peugeot 208 GTi. The Ford was the victor that time, with the French car nudged into second place due to softer responses, a less precise front-end and an opinion splitting cabin.

Peugeot is all too aware of the 208 GTi’s shortcomings though, which is why the firm has created, with the help of Peugeot Sport, its 208 GTi 30th Anniversary. A limited run model, with only 100 coming to the UK, each one benefitting from post production-line fettling by the company’s motorsport engineers.

Peugeot 208 GTi badge

Mainly, their task was to make the GTi more hardcore, more rabid, and a bit more like the 205 GTi that fathered the genre. The extent of the changes may not be immediately obvious, but wider tracks, larger wheels, bigger brakes, lower suspension, re-calibrated steering and stability systems and a proper mechanical limited slip differential all feature.

Another 10bhp and 10Nm of torque improves straight-line performance, all while lowering emissions by 14g/km (to 125g/km) over the standard 208 GTi, and there are new paintjobs. Thankfully our example doesn’t have the lurid ‘Coupe Franche’ half red and half matt-black colour scheme.

Peugeot 208 GTi in white

Of course our Fiesta is no ordinary ST either, as our Mountune also boasts more power – up 15bhp on the original car’s 178/198bhp (the latter figure on 15-second overboost). In ST-3 trim it also comes loaded with kit, and puts the new 208 GTi Anniversary firmly in the middle of its crosshairs.

If you look back through my previous long termers you’ll see the two SEAT Leons I had rode on 18-inch rims, my Octavia vRS arrived on eighteens but was soon upgraded to nineteens and later this year I’ll be rolling on twenties. Suffice to say, I like big wheels and I cannot lie.

Fiesta ST front

But while the Fiesta gives away an inch to the Peugeot’s eighteens, you’ll struggle to notice thanks to their black colour. To my eyes the Fiesta looks the best, as despite the 208 GTi 30th’s extra 10mm drop (over the regular 208 GTi) the Ford looks the widest, the lowest and the meanest of the pair. More hunkered down than top-heavy.

I still can’t get on with the French car’s interior either; the seat sits too high – not that the Fiesta’s adjusts quite low enough – and the aggressive looking bolsters are just weak foam pads that offer little support. The small steering wheel and instruments set above don’t suit my favoured driving position and the touchscreen doesn’t sit well within the dashboard architecture. At least it’s easy enough to use, unlike the fiddly Ford SYNC system in the ST.

Fiesta ST seats

I do wish the Ford had the Peugeot’s mechanical limited slip differential. The way it allows you to pick your corner entry point, add throttle and nail it every time is astonishing, seemingly no corner trajectory too tight for the 208. Ford’s Torque Vectoring does a great impression of this, but ultimately the Peugeot is more targeted.

But the Ford trumps it for body control; despite the suspension re-work the 30th Anniversary still feels soft, with a sensation of bodyroll that can be disconcerting. You learn to trust it, but it still feels like you’re leaning further than in the Ford. While it’s more comfortable in a straight line, the light but fidgety steering means it’s no more relaxing on the motorway.

Fiesta ST cornering

And it’s the Fiesta that feels – and sounds – faster. With an extra 20Nm of torque, and 5bhp, that’s maybe no surprise. The 208 feels longer geared too, which is great for economy but less so for performance. Mixed with the light steering and sloppy gearshift, the Peugeot still comes out 2nd in this race. 

And so it is when you consider costs too, as the Peugeot weighs in at £21,995 and even with the Mountune kit our ST-3 lists at just £20,619. That's a £1,376 saving. Peugeot has just announced the kit from this limited run car will make its way into the regular 208GTi, but even without the price difference, we'd still have the Fast Ford. 

 

Mileage: 7,455 miles (1,949 miles since delivery)           Economy: 34.8mpg