Hot hatch fans, rejoice. The Peugeot 208 GTi is about to be given the green light, according to a source at the French carmaker’s headquarters.
During a visit to the Peugeot-Citroen design centre in Velizy, the source said the 208 GTi would be confirmed for production at Paris motor show in September and go on sale in Europe shortly after.
With Peugeot Australia’s current practice of getting cars here about six months after overseas launch, that would mean a showroom appearance here about this time next year.
“Given the popularity of hot hatches in Australia, the GTi version of the 208 is something that we would want in our portfolio,” local spokesperson Jaedene Hudson says.
“It would not only give a flagship model to 208 range, but also build on the iconic GTi that started life in the form of a 205 and also play a part in re-establishing Peugeot’s performance presence in Australia.”
And the man responsible for the 208 GTi concept unveiled at Geneva motor show in March, Peugeot design director Pierre Authier, says there is nothing he would change – or that needs to be changed – to put the car on sale.
“Everything you see here on the concept is feasible (for production),” Authier says. “We do this job on a real 208, we just put the design, and everything is very realistic – inside also. So if they said we can go, it will be very quick. If we have a ‘yes’, it takes only some months.”
The only thing that could change is the size of the alloy wheels, tipped to shrink from 18-in to 17-in but retain their gunmetal spokes with one picked out in a red accent.
Also staying are the sporty cabin fit-out scattered with red accents and the GTi badging on the chrome body tab. The ‘tricolor’ flag accent under the grille thankfully may become an optional extra, offered as a range of national flags.
The RCZ-shared 147kW/275Nm 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder and six-speed manual in the front-driven show car is also staying, although it may be detuned slightly – possibly saving the full outputs for a special sport edition.
The Volkswagen Polo GTi is the first rival people will picture against the Peugeot, but it will also face off against the RenaultSport Clio and Ford Fiesta ST.
“I think if we want to make the legend we have to be different and have to embody the new kind of sportivity, but without being derivative of some of those cars,” Authier says. “It will be sportivity without aggressiveness… much more agility, much more pleasure.”
Hot hatch lovers will be hoping the 208 GTi can restore the mojo of the legendary 205 GTi that appeared in 1984 and became a benchmark in the class – much as the overall 205 range also did, gathering a swag of awards that included CAR magazine’s Car of the Decade in 1990.
“We know very well our culture and 205 is very important for Peugeot in our history,” Authier says. “When we presented the 208, a lot of people talk to us about the 205 but we really don’t want to make a new 205 when we do the car.
“But I think there’s a lot of similarity because the 205 was a new generation of design, it was a revolution. And the 208 is also.”