Peugeot 208 GTi review
The Peugeot 208 GTi is one of the best of the new breed of hot hatches – quick and with sharp handling, but it’s not as sharp or as cheap as the Ford Fiesta ST
What's not so good
Find out more about the Peugeot 208 GTi
The Peugeot 208 GTi is the successor to one of the greatest hot hatches ever, the 205 GTi. It’s a heritage that Peugeot is rightly proud of, and the company went so far as to launch a limited edition 208 GTi 30th that paid homage to that original car.
Of course, today’s 208 is very different to that 205, but what hasn’t changed in the last 30 years is that the market for hot hatches is fiercely contested and the Peugeot 208 GTi is an alternative to fine cars such as the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTi.
Even from the outside, the bodykit, badges and red details make it obvious that this is no ordinary 208 and the theme continues inside. Here, you’ll find a strictly red and black colour scheme, with red flashes on the door pulls, air vent surrounds, seat stitching, and on the side of the gear knob.
There are GTi badges all over the place, too, as well as a rally-inspired red strip on the top of the steering wheel so that it’s easy to see when you’re pointing straight ahead.
Unfortunately, that steering wheel is the main point of contention inside the Peugeot 208 GTi – as it is in any 208. The wheel is unusually small, and deliberately set low so that the driver looks at the dials over the top of the rim, rather than through the wheel. Some people love it, but others just can’t get on with it. So, it’s something to consider if you’re in the market for a car like this, because whether you like it is very much down to personal taste.
One thing that everyone can agree on is the Peugeot 208 GTi’s sporty yet comfortable ride. On a bumpy road, where rivals like the Fiesta ST can feel just too firm and bounce around when you’re driving fast, the Peugeot feels under more control more of the time. You can attack corners with complete confidence and, in the right hands on a twisty road, this talented little car is more than capable of surprising much more powerful cars. Exactly how a hot hatch should be, then.
I can remember the original 205 GTi and the 208 GTi isn’t as good as that, but it’s the first Peugeot hot hatch I’ve liked so much in a long time
Behind that performance is a 205hp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine co-developed with BMW that will get this pocket rocket to 60mph in just over six seconds. It’s even claimed to return more than 50mpg, according to Peugeot – assuming you can drive it like a saint.
If you can’t do that, you can at least be happy that the GTi comes with a decent amount of equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels and sparkling LED daytime running lights. Inside, meanwhile, there’s a DAB radio and dual-zone climate control, plus automatic headlights and wipers. Sports seats keep you in place in fast corners and there’s GTi-specific red lighting for the dial surrounds.
So far, so good, but the problem for anyone considering a 208 GTi is the Ford Fiesta ST. Not only is it cheaper to buy, it’s also even better to drive.
Nevertheless, the Peugeot is a still a very good hot hatch that you could happily drive every day. It may not quite recapture the magic of the 205, but it is by far the best hot hatch that Peugeot has produced in recent memory