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.
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.
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.
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.
208 has been with us for many moons, so many driver aids are missing.
With a petite drive-away price of $34,030 (in NSW), you don’t expect blind spot monitoring and active lane control, but smart start and entry would be nice. It’s been an eon since I faced the travesty of having to get a key out of my pocket to start a car.
Note: there is no AEB (autonomous emergency braking)
- 6 airbags
- ABS with EBD
- Pretensioning seatbelts
- Stop/Start (in neutral with foot off clutch)
- Child restraint points
- Auto door unlock in an accident
- Auto hazard flashes in accident
- Multi function display with external temperature
- Auto lights and wipers
- 60/40 rear seat folding
- Leather and caro cloth trim
Only a 6 speed manual is available, and while that might put some people off, I think it is the only choice if a dual-clutch auto isn’t available. The clutch is super light and gear so easy to find that you hardly know you’re doing it.
Steering is also light but has enough road feel to be useful as a true sports car.
The body feels as tight as a drum and although there is a little body roll in tight corners, the wheels stay exactly where you want them. The only time there is understeer is when you go too near the raggedy edge.
Electronic nannies sort out most of the foibles, so don’t ever switch them off. Engineers have gone to a lot of trouble to keep you safe, so don’t bugger it up by deactivating stability controls. There re no drive modes which makes the experience even more picante.
- 1.6 turbo petrol, 4 cyl
- 153kw @ 6000
- 300Nm @ 3000
- Euro 6
- 6 Speed manual
- Max speed 230
- 6.8 0-100
- Kerb weight 1160kg
- CO2 125g/km)
It is worth pointing out that as with all cars, the safety rating is only valid for the year tested, if the 208, or any other car tested in 2012, was tested now, their ratings would be much lower.
For example, AEB is required for a 5 star rating in 2018.
- Excellent ride and handling
- Super tight chassis
- Nice (artificial) engine sound
Not So Good Bits
- Driver aids missing
- Carplay/Android Auto slow to connect
- No auto option (but who cares)
The 208 is beautifully balanced with sharp handling and brakes. The nippy 153 4 pot has oodles of go while being gentle at the pump. With a 50L tank, you could theoretically make it from Sydney to Melbourne on a single tank and be comfortable while doing it.
PCA (peugeot Citroen Australia) recently introduced a 5-year warranty with roadside assist so they’re backing their product. How many other car makers have a longer warranty? I can only think of 1, Kia’s 7 year offering.
208 GTI drives like a roller skate and looks the business.
I love it, but I wouldn’t buy a car without Apple CarPlay.
Facts and Figures
Engine: 1.6L 4 cylinder turbo, 153kw,300Nm, 5.4L/100k
My Rating: 7.5/10
Transmission: 6 speed manual
Safety: 5 star (2012)
Warranty: 5 yr/unlimited km (current offer 7 years for 2017 plated models)
Price: $34,436 ex tax