No one really grows too old to appreciate the fun of a properly rapid ‘hot’ hatch and the new Peugeot 208 GTi is aimed at this happy band of Peter Pans.
That said, it’s always a bit dangerous to trade on past glories and marketing men drawing parallels between the iconic little Peugeot 205 GTi of the 1980s-90s and the new GTi are skating on thin ice.
Because the new car is an altogether more mature package than the old punk rocker that set young hearts racing back in the days of big hair and shoulder pads.
Yet, in truth, this is not such a bad thing because the new car copes much better with the UK’s crumbling and pot-holed roads while still being a hoot to drive briskly through your favourite country lanes.
It’s a bright mover thanks to borrowing the RCZ’s motor, a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine putting out 200 brake horsepower managing the 0-60mph sprint in 6.8 seconds. Oddly, about half a second slower than the old late lamented second generation Honda Civic Type-R was getting from its similarly powered naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine back in the early Naughties.
That said, this little car does not need to be revved like the old Civic having a beefy 203 ft lbs of torque to call on from as little as 1,700rpm. You notice this most in the way the car leaps forward in high gears, especially between 3-4,000rpm, with just a stab of the throttle.
Handling is crisp at speed thanks to the stiffer sports suspension and Peugeot have, wisely in my opinion, resisted the temptation to radically lower this model compared to the base 208 thus ensuring a surprisingly compliant and comfortable ride for this hot hatch.
Of course, fuel consumption is much improved over the old hot hatches. On a 400- mile trip of mixed driving I saw 39mpg, although well short of the claimed combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg, it’s not bad considering the performance on offer.
The interior, too, is much roomier than the compact exterior suggests and, with the rear seats folded, the car boasts 1,076-litres of luggage space for the three door-model.
The rest of the interior is pleasantly sporty with good clinging seats although the steering wheel, unless on its extreme lowest rake, obscures the driver’s instrument panel and is just plain bad design.
Equally bizarre in this super connected hi- tech world, the new 208 doesn’t automatically give Bluetooth hook-up of your phones media files. You have to fiddle about after connecting your telephone with the communications set- up. Just as I was about to give up and dig out the jack plug and USB connectors that have been gathering dust in my sock draw, I stumbled across the auxiliary input volume control which, perversely, has to be switched off to make the Bluetooth audio work – something not mentioned in the owners handbook!
Yet none of these little gripes can take away from the fact this is a handsome and cracking all-round hatch that can rip it up with the big boys when desired or provide a relaxing commuter tool to tackle our congested urban streets.
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Engine: 1.6-litre turbo
Top Speed: 143mph