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Tuesday 29th January 2013


Great expectations heaped on reborn GTI just increased by at least £2,000

In the market for a new hot hatch? You're in luck because 2013 looks like being a bit of a vintage year with a new Renaultsport Clio, the Fiesta ST and the return of the hot Peugeot in the form of the 208 GTI.

Worth a couple of grand over the Fiesta ST?
Worth a couple of grand over the Fiesta ST?
All carry the weight of expectation but the Fiesta has scored first blood with the announcement last week of a £16,995 starting price that gives it a near £2,000 advantage over the 208 GTI before a wheel has even turned. Like Peugeot wasn't already finding things tough...

OK, the 200hp 208 packs 20hp more than the Fiesta but at nearly £100 per pony that's a fair premium and if you're a numbers man you're going to be paying for the privilege.

Which leaves Renault to play its hand. Can it match its domestic rival's £18,895 starting price? Renaultsport's stock is currently higher in terms of pedigree and reputation but that controversial move to dual-clutch only could well cost both in terms of appeal among the more purist customer base and the bottom line. Given that the Fiesta's Focus ST big brother starts at £21,995 the Clio's not going to have much wriggle room on pricing and anything much more than £20K is going to be difficult to justify, despite Peugeot charging £20,495 for a limited run of 29 pre-launch Limited Edition 208 GTIs.

Rally know-how to go into 'ring 24H racer
Rally know-how to go into 'ring 24H racer
Ahead of the new car's launch in the spring Peugeot is meanwhile working hard to establish that kind of competition credibility its Renaultsport and Ford rivals already bring to the party. Irish factory driver and Peugeot Rally Academy graduate Craig Breen has been helping shakedown the new 208 GTI R5 rally car, praising the gearbox and braking stability in particular. The evocative paint scheme with its hints of 205 T16 Group B glory days is a shrewd move too.

There's a track campaign in the offing too, with two cars entered into the Nurburgring 24-hour driven by winners from a Europe-wide competition that ran earlier in the month. The five UK representatives will be chosen at the national pre-selection level at the end of February, before heading to La Ferte Gauche circuit in France on March 4 for the final. One will then go on to fly the flag for the UK in one of the 208 GTIs, the car using technology gleened from both the R2 and R5 rally cars and 250hp RCZ Cup circuit racer.

Evocative colours hark back to glory days
Evocative colours hark back to glory days
See vid of the 208 GTI R5 shakedown here.














Author: Dan Trent
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