If you could somehow earn a pound for every time a motoring journalist utters the words “It’s no 205 GTI” in reference to a Peugeot hot hatchback, you’d have enough for a pretty reasonable example of the hot hatch icon.
You see, like its German counterpart, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Peugeot’s Pininfarina-penned hot hatch has come to define the breed.
Its power output may look a little wimpy by modern standards with only 130bhp - even in the range-topping 1.9 GTI - but in terms of more subjective criteria like steering feel, adjustability, sound and fun, it’s rarely been bettered. And unfortunately for Peugeot, none of its recent GTIs have come within a light year of the 205’s talents.
So it’s with itchy fingers we type of the 208 GTI’s impending arrival, set to be unveiled at this month’s Paris Motor Show.
Peugeot isn’t beating about the bush with the new car, and mentions its historical hero several times. Whether this is merely the silvery-tongued words of the savvy PR man we won’t be sure until we drive it, but it needs to be better than the last few generations of GTI.
All should be well under the bonnet, with a 1.6-litre THP 200bhp engine. Peugeot has resisted the temptation to equip it with a new-fangled dual-clutch gearbox too, so you’ll swap cogs yourself through a six-speed manual transmission. 0-62mph should take under 7 seconds, not just thanks to that engine but also a relatively light 1160kg body.
Then there’s the styling - perhaps not ultimately as attractive as the 205, but naturally a whole lot more modern, with some neat details and carefully-considered curves. Touches such as 17-inch wheels, a widened track, mesh grille, and a 205-style GTI logo on the C-pillar all add visual drama.
Inside, the cabin is a whole lot more plush than its forebear, with the same unusual high-set dials and low-mounted steering wheel. A central touchscreen livens up the centre of the dashboard and colour-coded dashboard and seat inserts brighten up the otherwise black interior trim.
Available from: Spring 2013
Priced from: To be announced
Peugeot did preview a GTI-style model at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, and it certainly looked the part - the unique styling and GTI badge should win it plenty of fans when it goes on sale next year.
As far as the driving is concerned, we’ll have to wait and see - though the regular 208 has been getting positive reviews across the board. Whether it lives up to the reputation of the legendary 205 GTI or not - well, you’ll just have to wait for the inevitable twin tests with its 80s counterpart…