We’ll cover the interior in greater detail later, but it’s impossible to talk about the 208 GTi’s ride and handling without discussing your main point of interface with the car. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit design, with a small, low-set steering wheel and high-mounted dials, is a love or hate it affair, but with your seat and the wheel correctly adjusted, it should be possible for most drivers to find a comfortable and natural driving position. You soon get used to the small wheel too and its initially darty responses.
This is aided in the regular car by a nicely-judged spring and damper setup, that makes for good body control without ever feeling crashy over rough surfaces. It allows you to carry good speed on roads where a Fiesta ST – or even the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport – might encourage you to slow down as you’re pitched around.
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Where the regular GTi lags the Peugeot Sport is in its focus and involvement. It doesn’t grip as hard, its front wheels don’t bite into the road with quite as much eagerness – nor send as much information to the steering wheel rim – and its rear axle doesn’t feel quite as inclined to aid with direction changes.
The Peugeot Sport does all of these things, with the added benefit of strong traction thanks to that Torsen diff. Front springs are 30 per cent stiffer at the front and 80 per cent at the rear, there are new dampers, it’s 10mm lower and has a wider track – 22mm at the front and 16mm at the rear. The Peugeot Sport’s chassis has the boisterous feel we love from really engaging hot hatchbacks, letting you brake deeper into a given corner and accelerate out of it harder and earlier.
Put simply, the Peugeot Sport is the more fun of the pair – and more fun than most of its rivals too.