We’re not sure who is more apprehensive – Peugeot, which desperately wants to sell a car that rekindles the magic of that 1980s legend, the 205 GTI? Or the buyers themselves, who desperately want Peugeot to sell a car that recaptures that magic?
Either way, Peugeot’s marketing people are steaming ahead with the comparisons, gleefully comparing new with old in their latest teaser video for the 208 GTI.
That’s a risky business given everything the 208 has to live up to – neither 206 nor 207 GTIs ever got close to replicating the joy of punting a rattly old 205 GTI down a twisty road. It was all the more galling given Peugeot still had the technique nailed when it sold the 106 and 306 GTIs throughout the late 90s.
But these days, Peugeot has its mojo back, to some extent. The RCZ is striking to look at and even quite tidy to drive, while the 208 has moved in all the right directions – it’s already lighter and more fun than the 207 ever was.
With power around the 200-horsepower mark from a 1.6-litre turbocharged lump, a few subtle styling additions and some suitable interior upgrades, the GTI looks good on paper. It’ll also get a proper six-speed manual gearbox, which is becoming a rare thing in this market.
The first 29 GTIs to go on sale will be Limited Edition models, with only 29 models available, all costing £20,495. Each gets Satin Pearlescent white paint and 17-inch ‘Carbon’ Onyx Black alloy wheels.
All other GTIs will start from £18,895 – raising expectations further, when one of its toughest rivals, the Ford Fiesta ST, will begin at £16,995.
Priced from: £18,895
On sale from: April 2013
We’ll be honest, whether or not the 208 GTI gets anywhere near its 205 ancestor for thrills is irrelevant for most people – the market has changed a lot since the 1980s. But Peugeot’s willingness to compare the two does raise expectations, and if anything, the car has to be even better these days – Ford’s Fiesta ST is likely to be brilliant, and we’re all aware what Renaultsport is capable of, as the next Clio RS waits in the wings…
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For more information, check out our full summary of the Peugeot 208 alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos.
You can also read our quick drive review of the Peugeot 208 Feline THP 156, and our full review of the Peugeot 208 Feline HDi.