Many people don’t know this, but Peugeot is the world’s oldest car brand.

Peugeot has a hard earned reputation for ride and handling. With their sporty models, that reputation extends to grace and pace. The inevitable comparison to Peugeot’s venerable 205GTI could damage both name plates were it not for the fact that the 208GTI is such a peach.

Exterior

The 208GTI’s metal work is handsome.

There isn’t much you can do with a basic 2 box design, but the French have made this cute hatch look muscular, and fast. There is nothing high-falutin about it.

The front end has LED lighting with huge indicators. Rather oddly, the DTRL’s look a little like eyebrows that have been overplucked. Rear lights feature the “lion’s’s claw” 3D look. Perhaps it would be more correct to say “lion’s claw”. The overall effect of the lights and front grille being integrated into the bumper is less of a gaping trout than the pre face-lift model.

What distinguishes the GTI from the rest of the range, including the GT-Line, are the the splashes of red strewn about with gay abandon. The GTI badges adorn the rear, and back side windows. After all, you want people to know you’ve got the good stuff under the bonnet.

Body panels have voluptuous  sculpting which adds visual interest as well as panel strength.

Deeply carved 17” Carbone alloys are unique to the GTI, and are complete with the ubiquitous red brake caliper without which no sporty hatch would be complete.There is a textured paint finish as an option which Peugeot says is more durable that normal matte finishes, but frankly, why bother. To finish off the sporty look is a nifty rear spoiler at the top of the hatch, and a double chrome exhaust extension.

Interior

Peugeot interiors have been rather good of late, and the 208 GTI is no exception.

It starts with I-cockpit MKI. A tiny steering wheel allows the driver to peer over the top like Miss Daisy. Instruments have been raised slightly and act like an HUD (heads up display) according to peugeot. However, nothing beats an actual HUD.

Along with all the usual readouts, there is a centre LCD which can display, among other things, a digital speedo. It is easy to creep over the Lilliputian city speed limits, so the more tools you have, the better. Speed Limiting helps no end.

I love the red on the seats, dash, steering wheel, and gear knob. Like the exterior, no hot hatch interior is the real deal without lots and lots of red. The seats, although very firm and deeply sculptured, they hugs you gently, in a supportive kind of way.

The 7” floating tablet LCD has excellent resolution, and has menus for audio and vehicle customisation. Since this is an early version of the Peugeot floating tablet, some of the menus are buried too deeply.

CarPlay/Android Auto takes a while to connect, but be patient.

Siri allows you to handle phone functions fully handsfree by saying “hey Siri”, very loudly. The voice button will work too.

The rear seats fold to make the cargo hold more capacious, and although the floor isn’t completely flat, will still swallow my folding Ebike like a kid with candy. There is a ton of room for sundry flotsam, and you could fit luggage for 3 if you really needed to. Rear seats are nug.

One of the skills that is fast disappearing, is the ability to drive cars with a clutch. The 6 speed gear selector has a little collar under the knob which allow reverse gear to found without faffing about pushing the stick down like some kind of demented contortionist.