SEVERAL years ago Peugeot like most car manufacturers went through a period of producing models that were rather bland and not very inspiring but that has all changed with their latest range especially the 208 GTi which is a little whizzer in the best traditions of the French company writes Bryan Longworth.
I hinted at this change earlier in the year when reviewing another car from the latest Peugeot range but after testing the potent 208 GTi I am convinced that the French firm are really back with a bang and it is a genuinely sporty supermini.
It brought back memories of the 205 GTi which was a much respected flyer and the first time I started driving the test car I could tell that with this latest hot hatch Peugeot had got it just right.
The steering felt spot on and the 200bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine which sounded very potent provided exciting acceleration along with the firm suspension that provided the pacy Peugeot with perfect handling characteristics.
But what I really liked about the test car was that while I enjoyed the sporty performance of the car especially when out on winding country roads it was quite docile for town driving and shopping trips.
And the 208GTi which cost £18,895 with its pleasing styling snazzy alloys and extended wheelarches looked just right without being OTT like some less potent hot hatches from the gloss black grille up front to the trapezoid chromed double exhaust pipe and spoiler at the rear.
For the record the turbo high pressure engine which drives the front wheels through a slick six speed close ratio manual gearbox has a top speed of 143mph reaches 62mph in 6.8 seconds with a combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
The 208GTi is only available as a three door which may disappoint some potential family owners who prefer five doors for easier access to the rear but inside the sporting theme continues especially with the front seats which provide the driver and passenger with firm and comfortable seating that are ideal for when the car is being driven through the bendy bits where it provides such enjoyable motoring.
The only feature about the interior I was not happy with was the steering wheel which tended to hide the instruments behind it but fortunately there was also a digital speedometer in addition to the conventional speedo and I was able to see the speed of the vehicle more easily using this facility despite the steering wheel.
The multi function colour touch screen which included navigation also had an easy to use radio while at the rear the load area was average for this size of car but under the floor was a spare wheel which is something of a rarity in cars these days.
I would have preferred the 208 GTi to have been a five door because it would have widened its appeal and provided better access to the rear and departure from it because this can be quite difficult via the two front doors especially for larger and older passengers.
But overall I really liked this Peugeot supermini which provided some very enjoyable summer motoring and is further proof that the famous French motor manufacturer is back on track with some very tasty models.
My Verdict: A formidable French flier.
Model: Peugeot 208 GTi 3 door.
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo charged petrol.
Output: 200bhp @ 5800rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 1443mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 6.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 47.9mpg combined.
CO2: emissions 139g/km.
Price: £18,895 on the road.