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You can get a bigger car for less money, but it’s unlikely to reward you in the same way driving the Peugeot 208 GTi does.
That’s because this little French three-door continues the fun-to-steer legacy started decades ago by the original 205 GTi which became legendary in the 1980s and '90s as a bang-for-your-buck hot hatch favourite.
But there are other great choices out there, if this is your kind of fun – the Renault Clio RS 200, the VW Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST to name three. So, what makes the Peugeot GTi special, and what big change is about to happen that could make it even more special? Perhaps even a collector’s item?
|Peugeot 208 2018: GTi|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The 208 GTi had $1000 lopped off its list price last year and while at $29,990 its still expensive for a little car, its ‘go-fast’ tiny hatch rivals ask similar amounts. The Volkswagen Polo lists for $27,690, Ford’s Fiesta ST is $27,490, and the Renualt Clio RS 200 is $30,990.
Coming standard is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav and reversing camera, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, cloth and leather seats, rear parking sensors, tinted rear windows, halogen headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels.
There’s also a stack of cosmetic sporty bits which come with the GTi – you can read about those below.
The 208 GTi is a three-door hatch just like the iconic 205 GTi and there are styling similarities between the two as well, such as the low waistline, the shape of those large rear windows, and the C-pillar badging.
The GTi grade also brings chrome door mirrors, the ‘chequered flag’ grille design, dual chrome exhaust tips, alloy pedals, GTi monogrammed sports seats, plus red elements to the seats, seat belts, instrument cluster and door sills.
It’s a stylish hatch, with a premium looking cabin, but there are some less than premium feeling hard plastics in places.
The big change we hinted at earlier is the fact that Peugeot will no longer produce a three-door GTi after this one. Yup the next 208 GTi will be a five-door for the first time, possibly making this car a collector’s item, or not. You’ll have to wait 30 years to find out.
How big is a 208 GTi? The dimensions show it’s 3973mm end-to-end, 1739mm across, and 1460mm tall. As a model comparison the Polo GTi is only 10mm longer.
The 208 GTi is a five-seater and comes only as a three-door hatch. That means if you want to get into the back seats you’ll have to go through the front doors which are long and heavy.
Up front the cockpit is roomy with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room, but at 191cm I can’t sit behind my driving position – my legs were jammed into the seat back when I climbed in there. Those front seats do push and fold a long way forward and that means getting into that second row isn’t too tricky – I was even able to get my toddler in and out of his car seat without much trouble.
Storage isn’t terrific, with no cupholders in the back, but there are pockets for bottles under the windows, while up front you’ll find two cupholders and bottle holders in the doors. There’s a tiny storage area under the centre console armrest which I had in the upright position most of the time as my elbow kept bumping it while changing gears when it was down.
The 208 GTi has a 153kW/300Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. That’s more power and torque than you’ll find in the Polo GTI (141kW/250Nm) or Renualt Clio RS (147kW/260Nm).
The 208 GTi only comes with a manual gearbox, which suits the agile personality of this car perfectly.
The car is light at less than 1.2 tonnes, so according to Peugeot, the available grunt is enough to get the 208 GTi from 0-100km/h in 6.8sec. And it feels quick; you’re able to brake traction in second gear.
The 208 GTi comes with start-stop technology and Peugeot says that if you take in a combination of open and urban roads you’ll use just 5.4L/100km. Our time with the 208GTi was mainly spent in city traffic and the trip computer was reporting an average of 10.3L/100km.
The Peugeot 208 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2012. Safety standards have come a long way since then, and as the 208 GTi is pretty much the same car that’s been around for six years, it doesn’t have advanced safety equipment such as AEB, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic or lane keeping assistance which are now common place on new cars.
It’s great to see the 208 GTi comes with a full-sized spare – essential if you’re travelling in more remote areas.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The 208 GTi is covered by Peugeot’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, plus there’s five years’ roadside assistance.
Peugeot recommends you service your 208 GTi every 12 months or 20,000km. The first service will cost you $524, the second $685, the third is $524, then $690 for the fourth. In fact, the Peugeot website calculates how much you’ll pay right up to your 180,000km service.
We now come to the main reason for buying the Peugeot 208 GTi – the way it drives. Within my week of driving it, I felt like the car fit me like my own skin. The combination of great feedback, to let you sense whatever is happening, and the responsiveness to react instantly made for a fun and rewarding experience.
There’s great pedal and steering feel, with excellent turn-in and balance. The engine isn’t overly powerful, but the car’s light and there’s more than enough grunt for it to be quick, while shifting through those six gears is easy with a light clutch and short flicks between gears.
The experience was better than the Polo GTI with its overly hard ride, more fun than the Fiesta ST, but closest to the Clio RS. However, the Renault's disadvantaged by the fact that it's only available with a dual-clutch transmission.
The 208 GTi's high-placed instrument cluster has caused me issues in the past - the problem being that at my height (191cm) I need the driver's seat low and far back, with the steering wheel high.
That combination means the rim of the steering wheel perfectly eclipses the speedo - the digital read-out completely, and the analogue dial between 30-60km/h. This meant sitting up tall and awkwardly peering over the rim when travelling through a 50km/h zone. Same place, every day, past a speed camera. Annoying.
The Peugeot 208GTi, isn't the best value for money as far as features goes, but it's great bang-for-your-bucks in terms of a rewarding drive experience. The Peugeot GTi 208 is fun to drive, has stylish looks and is backed by a great warranty.
|Active||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$18,990 – 19,888||2018 Peugeot 208 2018 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2018 Peugeot 208 2018 Allure Pricing and Specs|
|AVANTAGE TENNIS LIMITED EDT||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$18,040 – 22,770||2018 Peugeot 208 2018 AVANTAGE TENNIS LIMITED EDT Pricing and Specs|
|GT-Line||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||No recent listings||2018 Peugeot 208 2018 GT-Line Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|