Some say size isn’t important, and it’s how you use it. Clearly one of the world’s oldest car brands have this in mind with the 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi. With a starting price of a blink under $30K, it’s a pocket-sized road pounder with a smooth engine, slick six speed manual, and not a lot of real estate when it comes to the sheetmetal.Hiding under the thumbnail sized bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6L four cylinder petrol engine, punching out 208 horsepower or 153kW. There’s also 300 torques on tap at 3000 revs but plenty of twist on board below that. It doesn’t add up to be a rocketship but performance is nonetheless more than satisfactory. So is fuel consumption with a quoted combined 5.4L/100. AWT clocked 6.3L/100 km in a mainly urban drive environment.The clutch is light-ish and the pickup point isn’t entirely precise but there’s enough feedback from the clutch pedal travel to engage it smoothly. The six speed manual has more feel in the selector lever than Suzuki’s Swift Sport tested recently and is therefore more confidence inspiring. Once engaged there’s a minute hit of turbo lag before the torque comes in smoothly and allows the 208 to kick up its heels smartly. An 1160kg dry weight certainly aids this.Steering is well weighted via the flat bottomed, red striped, leather bound tiller. There’s some lack of connection dead on centre however lock either way has the steering become more communicative in regards to where the front wheels were going. Ride quality itself was firm, leaning towards hard, but with just enough initial give to not be completely uncomfortable. Out on the freeway, as a result, it was a flat, slightly taut feel to the chassis, and with the engine ticking over at around 2500 in sixth, right in the sweet spot for the waiting maximum torque. Changes of direction are lightning quick thanks to an overall length of 3973mm yet packs a 2538mm wheelbase. Front and rear track are almost identical at 1476mm and 1478mm respectively, also helping the rapid response handling.That gearing also made it pretty tidy around town, with fifth the preferred gear for most 80 km/h zones and sometimes needing a judicious heel and toe for lower velocities.Unfortunately, there was also more tyre rumble than expected on most road surfaces. The Michelin Pilot Sport 205/45/17 rubber is superbly grippy but that grip came the cost of the aural noise.Inside the 208 GTi features the i-Cockpit setup favoured by Peugeot, and one that receives mixed reactions from some. This has the driver’s dash binnacle sitting above the sightline of the steering wheel. For AWT this wasn’t an issue but it’s also easy to see just how the top of the wheel could impede vision of the dials. Thankfully the steering column is adjustable for both height and reach.The binnacle itself has a switch, which when activated, limns the binnacle in blood red, matching the stripe on the wheel.The cockpit itself is comfortable with red and black trimmed sports seating, which are fully manual in operation, soft touch materials throughout, and a seven inch touchscreen for satnav, reverse camera with guidelines, and six speaker audio. Apps are on board and using a USB connection has a smartphone connecting for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Other features include a tyre pressure monitoring system, folding power mirrors, six airbags, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Outside there’s chromed exhaust tips, good looking alloys, cornering lamps, and rear spoiler. This sits over a cargo area that is, unsurprisingly, not big at 285L. That’s a little smaller than Ford’s Fiesta and quite a bit smaller than VW’s Polo. At night that’s overcome by the stunning claw tail lights.Peugeot offer a three year warranty or 100,000 kilometres and the Peugeot 208GTi comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating.At The End Of The Drive.
The 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi continues a solid heritage and builds nicely upon the small hot hatch history. Although not as quick off the line as expected, the mid range driveability makes it more a usable day to day proposition, especially for a single person or couple. It’s a sweet handler and will happily take you at speed through twisting roads whilst sporting a healthy grin.
Head to Peugeot Australia for more info.