Peugeot has pulled out all the stops to bring us a 21st Century GTi, says motoring writer Tim Barnes-Clay.
Produced from 1984 to 1994, Peugeot’s iconic 205 GTi has been sorely missed.
Nothing from the French car brand has come close to the zing the hot-hatch delivered – until now.
Return to form
The ordinary 208, launched in June last year, was the first clue that Peugeot had returned to form.
In its normal guise the 208 drives fantastically, with precise steering and nimble handling.
It also looks lip-smackingly good. But would there ever be a souped-up version?
Yes, indeed, and we’ve been kept waiting for months. But not any longer, because this week the 208 GTi goes on sale in the UK.
A car for motoring enthusiasts
So why am I so animated about a little Pug? Well, this car has been designed to reach out to motoring enthusiasts.
Its only function is to tease, please and make the journey - not the destination - count.
The car’s vitality is demonstrated right away by its exterior individualism.
The three-door model’s fat wheels squeeze into the arches and its beefy body sills and wing extensions boost its form.
Twin tailpipes thrust from the rear, and a chromed trim strip adorns the car’s window edge, culminating in a signature accent that pays tribute to the unforgettable 205 GTi.
What's more, the quarter panel trim brazenly bears the GTi badge and a 3D chequered image shouts from the mesh of the grille.
Open the doors and you’ll see the 208 GTi’s aluminium sills embossed with the Peugeot name.
Inside, the car has a stimulating atmosphere peppered with red highlights.
Doggedly sporty, the seats combine leather with cloth and the dashboard accommodates a high-mounted instrument panel with an inventive and distinctive light theme.
The dials are encircled with satin chrome beads backlit by LEDs, while the needles move on a brushed aluminium backdrop.
The passenger compartment is also interspersed with deftly designed components.
Accordingly, the vents, the steering wheel insert, the seat belts and the front and rear door crossbars all harmonize with the interior mood.
The aluminium pedal bracket and footrest present the final touch to the hi-tech and highly developed cabin.
Behind the wheel, you’re well propped up in the snug driver’s seat, allowing for a great driving position.
Your feet easily connect with the pedals and your hands instinctively rest on the shirt-button-sized leather steering wheel.
As soon as the ignition is switched on, the 1.6-litre 200bhp petrol engine emits a rumble that delights your ears.
On the move, the GTi is swift and urgent, and it balances from one turn to the next with complete accuracy.
A manual gearbox with six, close-ratio gears, as well as highly-tuned suspension, makes for involved driving, while ventilated disc-brakes reduce speed in an instant.
With piles of pulling power the car will do 0 to 62mph in less than 7 seconds and it’ll achieve a top speed of 143mph.
British consumers will be delighted with this modern version of a bona fide Peugeot GTi classic.
The icing on the cake is that it’s one of the most affordable new cars to launch this year.
You can walk into a dealership and buy one off the peg for £18,895.
It’ll be worth it.
Certainly, Peugeot is bracing itself because UK driving devotees are sharp enough to have recognised the supermini car segment is being given its biggest shot in the arm for years.