There’s much to love about the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport – it has the dynamic driving ability of a proper old school hot hatch – yet it also has the ability to frustrate in equal measure. No, it’s not perfect, but on the right road in the conditions it’s a sublime piece of kit.
Let’s get those frustrations out of the way first. Painting the car in two different colours simply doesn’t work to our eyes – it’s an unnecessary gimmick that a car with this depth of ability just doesn’t need. Then there’s the steering wheel that obscures the instruments for most drivers and its harsh ride on the motorway. The pedals are awkwardly positioned and the driving position isn’t perfect. Neither is its occasionally soft throttle response.
Subscribe to evo magazine
But the changes that were wrought by Peugeot Sport to the 208 GTi are what makes this car stand out from the crowd. There are small power and torque increases (up by 8bhp and 18lb ft), shortened gear ratios and a Torsen-type limited-slip diff and a host of chassis revisions. These include wider tracks front and rear, a softer front anti-roll bar, stiffer springs and more specialised dampers, topped off with a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports.
The engine has real gusto while the chassis now has the grip to make the most of it. The diff is crucial in helping the 208 to resist understeer but the icing on the cake is that the chassis revisions now allow you to bring the rear axle into play making this GTi supremely agile. There’s a real adjustability to the chassis and small inputs on the throttle or steering can play a large part in its cornering attitude. Couple this with its diminutive size and it’s an absolute joy to thread down a tight back road.
It can be a little bit of a handful in the wet with that chassis at times feeling too stiff and nervous but on the right day on the right road this peppy little hatch really has no peers. It’s a bit of a ‘warts and all’ machine, but as a driving device it’s still our favourite supermini.
With a lack of genuine competitors to the Peugeot in this sector we’re pinning our hopes on some soon to be launched machines – Toyota’s Yaris GRMN, the Suzuki Swift Sport and Ford’s next generation ST. Will they be able to topple the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport?
evo cars of the year
Supermini: Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot SportHot hatch: Honda Civic Type RSports saloon: Alfa Romeo Giulia VeloceSupersaloon: Alfa Romeo Giulia QuadrifoglioSports car: Lotus Elise Sport 220Coupe: BMW M4 Competition PackSUV: Porsche Macan GTSGT: Bentley Continental GTSupercar: McLaren 720SHypercar: Bugatti ChironCar of the year: McLaren 720S