18 Sept 2013

Peugeot 208 GTI on test - initial impressions and gallery

A spangly new 208GTI was dropped off on Monday. When I got home from work I couldn’t wait to get in it and have a look around to see what progress Peugeot had made in 23 years, which was the age of the last Peugeot I owned (a 205 GTi).

Peugeot 208 GTI

Initial impressions were a little underwhelming.  When I adjusted the seat the and steering wheel to my optimum driving position the steering wheel obscured the clocks which are set up high just over the steering wheel below the windscreen. The handbrake, whilst looking good, has some sharp plastic on the sides which is really annoying so I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be getting on with this car. Also, the car doesn’t come with a CD player as standard.  I spent 5 minutes looking for it, gave up and checked the manual and it’s a cost option, instead relying on FM and DAM radio and an Ipod and aux connection.
Peugeot 208 GTI steering wheel

The first drive was a 5 mile round trip to Rainbows (pre Brownies) with my youngest daughter and eldest daughter in for the ride. It felt quite fast, the handling okay and the brakes sharp but the kids enjoyed every minute as the ride’s compliant, not at all crashy and it shows that Peugeot have finally invested some money in NVH reduction over the years. The kids sometimes baulk at my driving but no complaints from the surprisingly roomy back seat so that's the first thumbs up.

After 1 day I was thinking what is all the fuss about.  A fairly non-descript driving experience and the interior quality below par when compared to the German cars I've driven recently.

Day 2 and onto work and finally on my own, no kids to hold me back and things got better, I found the engine really opens up when you mash the accelerator into the carpet and use all the revs - the last 1.5 inches feel like the accelerator’s catching on something but it makes all the difference, turning a warm hatch into a hot hatch and the full 200 horses make their presence known. I really enjoyed the drive as the engine on boil tests the chassis which is proving very capable.  The tyres aren’t very wide at 205 section but the car appears to have a wide track so they grip very well.

The engine whilst proving fast isn’t very vocal and in GTI spec I would expect a few more decibels.  This could be done via a flap in the exhaust to retain everyday ‘quiet’ mode or hopefully an optional sports exhaust.  Note to self - check spec sheet for available options.

Yesterday I also hooked up my phone to the Bluetooth and it's proving user friendly with good voice quality. The phone menu is accessed via the tablet style touch-screen high up on the centre of the dash and the graphics are very funky, perhaps targeting a younger audience. The satnav works well, equally on par with my TomTom and the important directions are shown between the clocks in decent quality graphics, proving very easy to read and use.
Peugeot 208 GTI satnav

Day 3 and it showed off its power and control after a Hyundai SCoupe pulled out in front of me.  Rather than emergency braking I overtook on the very wet road, it cleanly got past said blind/stupid driver with me in complete control.  The heavily assisted steering helping me position the car exactly where I wanted to go. The Korean car driver thought I should have slammed on and not overtaken and so decided to show some road rage for a few miles.  The modern-age sound deadening reduced his shouting levels to a minimum, the auto dipping mirror did a good job of reducing his glaring flashing lights and the auto locking doors kept me safe in the event the nutter decided to get out of his car at the roundabout.

So after 3 days I’m really warming to the car, I have acclimatised to the lower quality plastics and appreciate them for being a lower priced car aimed towards a younger generation than it’s German rivals, but it shows more flair in other areas than its contemporary's with some nice design touches.

So I pronounce the 208 GTI as a grower and will report back after the weekend with my full appraisal.
Peugeot 208 GTI

Peugeot 208 GTI seats

Article by Colin Hubbard