Peugeot 208 GTI driven - the spiritual successor to the 205 GTI

The 208 GTI will be seen as a spiritual successor to the Peugeot 205 GTI, one of the best of the early hot hatches. It is still very potent but has to be a very different car for the very different world of today.

Instead of go-faster stripes and bulging wheel arches the 208 GTI offers a more refined approach to high performance motoring. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, shared with the MINI Cooper S, produces a healthy 197bhp. A bubbly performer, it just loves to rev.

The 208 delivers the traditional GTI recipe with conviction. You can play tunes with the six-speed gearbox and enjoy the sensation. In the old days this amount of power in a front-drive car would have had the tyres yelping. Modern engineering means it just puts down its power and goes.

Same story when it comes to roadholding and handling. The 208 just digs in and sticks to the chosen light. With lowered suspension and more powerful brakes, the driver enjoys a flattering ability to cope with the corners. Yet the ride remains so civilised. You can make swift progress without drama.

And what progress it is! The sprint to 62mph takes just 6.8 seconds and top speed is 143mph where permitted. This reflects the fact that the new car is notably lighter than its predecessor, the 207 GTI. It is one of those cars that is quicker than it feels, particularly when you drive on the considerable low-down torque that is available.

This is an efficient package reflected in its emissions and potential economy. Rated at almost 48mpg on the combined cycle and with emissions of 139g/km it is testimony to the engineering progress of recent years.

Styling is neat and tidy without being brash. A rear spoiler and low-profile tyres on the 17-inch alloys are clues to its potency. The interior has a quality feel to it with leather seats and red stitching. Chrome trim lifts the dashboard and the small steering wheel adds to the sporting image.

Standard kit includes those wheels, DAB radio, dual zone air conditioning and rear parking sensors. Prices start from £18,895.

The 208 GTI will appeal to people who enjoy their driving, who like a taut, responsive car that feels rewarding to handle. This is a car that fits like a glove and translates your commands into a smooth and surprisingly refined drive. Still a practical hatchback it is as happy around town as it is on the open road. If you give granny a lift, she will hardly notice how quickly she is moving.

This is a GTI for the modern motoring world. Powerful and honed to drive with sophistication. It ticks boxes on safety, refinement and engineering that simply weren’t around in the days of the 205 GTI.

FACT FILE

Peugeot 208 GTI
ENGINE – 1.6-litre, turbo-charged petrol unit giving 197bhp
PERFORMANCE – Sprints to 62mph in 6.8 seconds, 143mph top speed potential
ECONOMY – 47.9mpg on Urban Cycle
EMISSIONS – 138g/km
PRICE – from £18,895


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