Ford Fiesta ST 2019 review
It's always hard work following on from a benchmark setter - but the Ford Fiesta ST 2019 model makes a real fist of it, proving fun, frugal and functional can blend with excitement and engagement.
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It’s time to say goodbye to an icon.
This is the very last Peugeot 208 GTi in a very long line of thoroughbred, rally-derived hot-hatches.
Well, the 208 GTi will return, but Peugeot has recently said that when it does, it will be totally different, sporting four doors and being generally ‘larger’ than the one reviewed here.
And, the chances of a manual gearbox returning? Slim. So, if you’re a driving experience puiritan, or generally after that original French hot hatch experience, this is your last call.
There’s also a good chance you won’t be able to buy the ‘Edition Definitive’ we’ve reviewed here because there are only twenty of them in Australia.
However, if you do come across one, or any of its 208 GTi siblings, there are still a lot of reasons to like it. Read on to find out why.
|Peugeot 208 2019: GTi|
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
There are more than a few things ‘interesting’ about this car’s design. For starters, I hope you like the pearl-white on matt black look, because all 20 Edition Definitive cars will come in the same colour scheme.
It’s an angry looking little car though, and I have to say, the 208 has aged reasonably well with it’s vibrant mix of edges and curves. The front looks all… pugnacious (see what I did there?) with its pushed-in face, dopey chrome-sparkled grin and button nose sitting atop.
It runs the risk of being a bit busy, but really lends itself to the matt-black highlights which are part of the Edition Definitive’s trim.
The rear is by far my favourite angle though, with the bulbous rear haunches wonderfully resolved by the rear lamp clusters that clasp the sides and the spicy spoiler that flattens out the roof line.
Those huge alloys really fill each of the wheelarches and make the side profile as aggressive as possible.
You also have to appreciate the restraint from Peugeot not going all-out on the stickers, pinstripes or two-tone colours. From a distance it could be any other 208 GTi.
Inside things get… strange.
The dash sits oddly high, with the instrument cluster and multimedia system perched on top, then the compact and almost oval wheel sits further down and far toward the driver. Peugeot calls the design 'i-Cockpit'.
This creates some awkward ergonomics. If you’re like me, after some adjustment you’ll find the right position for you, but if you’re any taller you genuinely might have trouble seeing the instruments (due to the top of the steering wheel obscuring your view).
Other than those artistic liberties, the leather bound wheel is strongly contoured and is a pleasure to toss around in the heat of the drive, and possesses some basic buttons for controlling the media system and dash functions.
The rest of the dash has a nice leather finish on it with sporty red stitching. Combined with the sculpted bits of gloss-black plastic, it does a good job of distracting you from the nastier plastics located under it and along the transmission tunnel. The fit on them isn’t as good and the texture on them somehow reminds me of the dreadful plastics Peugeot has been using since the early ‘00s.
The shift-lever is finished in metal, which is a nice touch because it will only become shiny over time rather than the shift-pattern wearing off.
In a way the Edition Definitive’s design is everything it should be. All about the drive, with a healthy serving of odd. So French.
This particular 208, being a three-door in a performance-oriented limited-edition trim, is not exactly a car you’d purchase for reasons of practicality.
However, it is surprisingly good in some areas and less so in others.
Boot space is a very usable 311 litres, helped by the fact that the area is deep and unhampered by a full-size spare. It’s by no means stellar, but gets the job done for a performance car.
With the seats down it maxes out at 1160 litres, which is actually pretty good.
The rear seat is also above-par. It was surprisingly usable for an adult-sized human (my 182cm frame sat snugly behind my own driving position), had nice consistent trim and a bit of sculpting to it, and my favourite feature – the ‘hold on for dear life’ handles - for when the driver decides to show you why they bought a limited-edition three-door Peugeot.
The rear seats are even relatively easy to clamber into. This is because three door variants of the 208 have gigantic doors. Like, seriously huge. Look at the pictures.
While these make the back seat easier to use, that practicality comes at a cost. Despite its tiny dimensions, the 208 is a nightmare to park in shopping centre parking lots, tight back alleys and roads which are on an angle.
You simply won’t be able to open them far enough to scoop yourself out of the seats without serious airspace on either side of the car. It offsets the practicality of the otherwise easy-to-park little car.
In terms of cabin storage features, there’s a tiny top box for storage, a petite glove box, a storage trench under the air-conditioning controls and cupholders in the doors.
The temperature controls are switches, and the fan-speed controls are buttons. An irritating faux-pas. Give me dials next time!
The ‘Edition Definitive’ comes in at a manufacturer’s list-price of $33,990. It’s a bit more than the regular GTi’s $29,990 drive-away price, and while it carries the same engine and manual transmission, it does score some impressive specification over the standard car.
While thirty-odd-grand seems a lot for a little three-door, that pricing pits it squarely against arch-rival, the Clio RS200 Cup ($32,490), the less-hardcore but much newer Volkswagen Polo GTi ($30,990) and perhaps even the ridiculous Abarth 595 Competizione ($31,990) and the soon-to-arrive 2019 Ford Fiesta ST (price as yet unknown…)
Japanese rivals either moved up a size or went extinct long ago, apart from the Suzuki Swift Sport ($25,490) which is nowhere near to competing on the same performance level.
Value, then, is relative.
Thankfully the standard fitments are up to spec. The ones you need but don’t want to read about on a car like this include a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen which supports Apple CarPlay and built-in nav, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, ‘corner assist’ fog-lights, leather trimmed wheel and touch-points, matt-black contrast highlights, as well as a slew of Edition Definitive identifying touches, badges and interior trims.
Then there’s the goodies. The stuff which justifies the GTi badge. This is where this car gets impressive.
Included is a front Torsen limited-slip differential from the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary edition back in 2014, a wider track front and rear, 18-inch bespoke matt black alloy wheels, upgraded (thicker, wider diameter) Brembo-branded brakes with four-piston calipers, and a stiffer 10mm lower bespoke suspension set-up.
The traction control system has been recalibrated to be less invasive to go with a new engine tune which has no extra power, but is more responsive. Peugeot says these improvements add up to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds (0.3 seconds faster than the normal GTi).
Those are a lot of additions right where you need them. Other brands can keep their stickers. Peugeot has thrown everything mechanical it can into this final 208 GTi.
You do lose a few things though. The Edition Definitive has no head-up display (would be nice at this price) and the spare wheel has been stripped out and replaced with a tyre inflation kit to save weight.
The 208 GTi Edition Definitive is powered by the same 1.6-litre turbocharged 153kW/300Nm engine which powers the 'standard' version, but has a slightly different tune which Peugeot says makes it ‘more responsive’ (for what it’s worth, it feels like it).
The punchy little unit compares well with the Clio RS200 Cup’s 1.6-litre turbo 146kW/260Nm engine and the upcoming 1.5-litre three-cylinder in the Fiesta ST which will put out 147kW/290Nm.
Hot hatch Francophiles will know those numbers mean the square root of nothing without weight factored in, so here are the weights as well: Edition Definitive – 1160kg, RS200 Cup – 1204kg, and the Fiesta ST – 1262kg. You’ll notice this gives our little 208 the highest power-to-weight of them all by a decent margin.
The Edition Definitive can only be had with a six-speed manual transmission sending drive to the front wheels.
Over my week of hammering down the best streets I could find, I landed on a final fuel figure of 8.3L/100km. Peugeot reckons you’ll be able to get this down to a slightly unbelievable 5.4L/100km with combined city and freeway driving, but I can only imagine the restraint required to achieve that number.
What I will say, however, is the stop-start system is so brilliant you’ll never need to turn it off. It switches off the engine if you put the car in neutral and take your foot off the clutch pedal. The moment you depress the pedal again, the engine is on before you’re even in gear. Parfait!
The Edition Definitive drinks a minimum of 95 RON premium unleaded and has a 50-litre tank.
I’ll be honest. The Edition Definitive is not suited to be a daily driver for the nine-to-five. There’s nothing that makes it incapable, but unless you like making sizable donations to your local chiropractor, I wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s a combination of the low, tight suspension, tyres so low in profile that they may as well have been painted on and relative lack of sound insulation of any kind which makes it tiresome. Even bumps as minor as reflective 'cats-eye' markers send shudders through the little car’s frame.
This 208 is particularly suited, however, to putting a smile on your face during a thorough weekend drive. The best part? You don’t even need an amazing road to extract a lot out of this car, even suburban streets are enough to produce heart-thumping bursts of adrenaline, all without breaking the law.
Again, it’s a blessing and a curse. Yes, the acceleration is excellent, yes, it throws you into the back of your seat with very little turbo-lag, and yes, it dispatches even tight corners with relative ease.
But, you’ll wrestle with extreme torque steer, almost have the rear inside wheel lift off the ground during aggressive cornering, and really, the six-speed manual is far from the sharpest I’ve used.
Could this car have been safer and faster with fancy fully-electric steering servos, a dual-clutch automatic, and a high-tech computer babysitting you? Yes, definitely.
Would it have been anywhere near as exciting to drive if it did? No way. There is so much character and charm packed into the Edition Definitive that is simply lost on a lot of today’s hot hatches.
Sure, the new players on the block are fast. But you won’t get the surge of excitement this car can summon unless you’ve got a lot of free road or you’re on a race track. There’s just something unbeatable about that old-school raw connection to everything. Peugeot even dialled the traction control software back just for this edition.
It’s enough to lament this car as the end of an era. There may never be another French car quite like it.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
You could argue the Edition Definitive being the first 208 GTi to score Autonomous Emergency Braking is a case of too little too late for Peugeot. But it’s a very welcome addition nonetheless (and one that the Renault Clio RS200 Cup misses out on).
Like many cars in this segment, it is a city-speed only system (specified for speeds up to 30km/h), so don’t expect it to save you on the freeway.
In terms of active safety, that’s about it. There are no other advanced items that one would expect at this price like blind spot monitoring (BSM), Lane Keep Assist (LKAS) or active cruise. Although, including these features equals adding weight, something this car rightfully strives to avoid.
There is a relatively rudimentary traction control system and the 208 GTi’s standard suite of six airbags.
Three-door variants of the 208 are not rated by ANCAP, but five-door versions scored a maximum five-star assessment back in 2012.
There are also two ISOFIX points in the back seats if you can manage to get a child seat back there.
Peugeot has thankfully joined the increasingly long list of manufactures offering a five-year/unlimited km warranty. This is far better than the three-year/100,000km of recent years.
The real let down is the expensive service pricing. Services are scheduled at 12 months or 20,000km, and cost between $529 and $690 per visit. They average out over the first five years to an expensive $590.40 per year, although this is roughly on par with the European competition.
|Active||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,990||2019 Peugeot 208 2019 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$24,990||2019 Peugeot 208 2019 Allure Pricing and Specs|
|GT-Line||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$26,990||2019 Peugeot 208 2019 GT-Line Pricing and Specs|
|GTi||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$31,490||2019 Peugeot 208 2019 GTi Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|
“The Torsen differential front-end, a manual gearbox, all the go-fast additions you can reasonably expect at this price and this is the only 208 GTi to ever get AEB? ‘Edition Definitive’, indeed. ”
Will you miss cars as raw and simple as the 208 GTi, or is it an era that belongs in the past? Tell us what you think in the comments below.