RAC Cars News


Peugeot Attempts To Revive Its Hot Hatch Glory Days

By raccars Published

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The Peugeot 205 Gti of the 1980s was one of the all-time great hot hatches. Unfortunately its successors, the 206 and 207, were unable to fill such large shoes. However, Peugeot is determined to reclaim its reputation in this area, so with the 208 Gti, the brand is competing not only with the likes of the new Ford Fiesta ST and the RenaultSport Clio, but with its own past.

The Peugeot 208 Gti can at least boast 197bhp from its 1.6 litre turbo unit, which will get you from 0-62mph in a handy 6.8 seconds. The car seems tailored to boy racers, as you'll need to keep the needle bouncing at the top of the rev counter to get the most out of it, but is far more mature when it comes to handling.

Like the earlier 205, the 208 is great fun to chuck around corners, with just enough grip and body control to keep you safe without feeling staid. Strictly steering feedback could be improved, but it is responsive and pleasingly weighty. If you're not a boy racer, you'll find the ride comfortable and nicely refined – possibly too refined for some, that throaty hot hatch exhaust growl notable by its absence.

However, the 208's styling more than looks the part. You get 17" alloy wheels, chromed twin exhausts and red brake calipers on the outside, plus stitched leather trim elements, well-stuffed sports seats, LED instrument dial rims and red detailing on the inside. The standard 208's black paneling and chrome details are tarted up for this sporty version, for a rather too busy interior layout and a less than user friendly touchscreen infotainment system. The standard equipment list is adequate, with DAB radio, parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity and you can just about fit four adults and a reasonable amount of luggage inside.

The Peugeot 208 Gti is available for order now for a fairly hefty £18,895 – for which you'll get a fun and well-built little sports car. Overall, Peugeot's latest hot hatch is far better than its previous two attempts, but stops short of living up to the classic 205 Gti and, probably more problematic, it also struggles to match the new Fiesta ST. Ford's rival handles and sounds better than the 208 Gti and comes in at a couple of grand cheaper, making Peugeot's renewed claim on the hot hatch crown look decidedly shaky.

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