Until the eagerly-awaited 208 GTI arrives early next year, this is the hottest Peugeot 208 you can get your hands on.
Peugeot is leaving its sharpest styling for that model, but in Feline trim the 208 still looks the part. Silver paint lends the 208 a sophisticated look, and 17-inch Oxygen alloy wheels and a satin grey finish to the front grille turn up the sportiness.
THP models also get a rear spoiler and twin chromed tailpipes, while inside you get sport seats and a panoramic glass roof to enhance the interior ambience.
The unusually-designed (but spacious and well-built) interior seems a little odd at first, but you quickly get used to the low-set steering wheel and high-set dials. That wheel is small and sporty too, attached to a quick steering rack that lets you dart around corners in the way a small Peugeot should – even if its not offering as much feedback as you might hope.
Under the stubby bonnet is a 1.6-litre, 156-horsepower turbocharged engine, and a relatively light kerb weight of only 1090 kg gives it impressive zip out on the road.
The headline figures are 8.1 seconds to 62 mph and 134 mph flat out, and the little Pug feels eager to match them, producing a fruity exhaust note as it does so – though even more parp wouldnt have gone amiss to our ears, so perhaps the quicker GTI will deliver on that front. Wed also like the GTI to have a slightly sharper throttle response than the THP.
Even so, accessing the performance isnt difficult, with light controls and an easy action to the six-speed gearbox. Keep your right toe down and the 208 can be hustled along twisty country roads with aplomb, happily dealing with bumps and ruts and offering plenty of grip into the bargain.
Like the steering and throttle, wed have liked a little more connection from the gearbox, but the light, smooth shift should appeal to a wide audience. Were holding out hope that the GTI turns up the sharpness a little, though
Price as tested: 16,895
Combined mpg: 48.7
CO2: 135 g/km
Perhaps the biggest criticism we can level at the 208 1.6 THP is that it isnt quite the precision driving tool wed expect of a small, hot Peugeot – but with a GTI model waiting in the wings, that might be deliberate.
With more modest expectations – mental note: this isnt the GTI! – the 208 THP is actually good fun to drive, plenty quick enough for most situations, and feels far more of a quality product than previous small Peugeots. Its also comfortable and economical, making it a good all-rounder. Were looking forward to trying one for a little longer – so keep your eyes peeled for a full test.
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