Is a slice of French hot-hatch motoring best served with two colours and 208hp? Ben Griffin finds out in his Peugeot 208 GTi video review.
In years gone by Peugeot was the king of hot-hatches, with the 205 GTi earning itself heaps of praise as a fast, capable but easily drivable machine. So when a trickle of sporty Pugs started to come through we hoped for a blast from the past.
First came the RCZ R, which in its latest generation can only be described as a handful that will strike fear into anyone who drives it in the wet. It felt refined and smooth without losing that sporty edge. We loved it.
Then along came the 208 GTi, a car that was always going to draw comparison between it and its spiritual predecessor. The thing is, cars are heavier, safer, more efficient and more practical than they were when the 205 GTi was around, so the modern offering was always going to be softer.
Softer in everything but the handling, that is, which is mix of extreme cornering performance and pain. The specific suspension setup is, to put it mildly, capable of severe spinal damage – a fact compounded by the not entirely comfortable sports seats.
At first the 208 GTi annoyed us, but as time went on we learned to appreciate what Peugeot was going for. It’s a no compromise small and sporty hatchback with good practicality that’s bags of fun to drive on the right road and miserable on the wrong one.
To that end, it’s the very definition of a love or hate car. We love the performance but hate the lack of comfort. We love the bold styling but hate the fact it reminded us our teenage days were long gone. We love that it’s cheap to run but hate the fact the steering wheel obscures the dials.
But – as the Germans have proved – the quest for perfection can sometimes result in the mundane. Those who like their cars unforgiving and can forgive a few obvious foibles will fall for this particular Pug and we wouldn’t blame them one bit.