RE: Toyota GT86 v Peugeot Sport 208 GTI

RE: Toyota GT86 v Peugeot Sport 208 GTI

Saturday 3rd March

Toyota GT86 v Peugeot Sport 208 GTI

Our current favourite rear-wheel drive car at about £25k battles our favourite FWD - which is most fun?



As long as there are cars on this Earth, the debate around the best cheap(ish) fast car will rage. By offering so much to so many enthusiasts they mean an awful lot to those people, and as such the discussion is typically very passionate. Oh sure, it's nice to weigh up Ferrari against McLaren but, at a tenth of a price, these might well be cars you could afford soon - so it's much more important.

Right now, our two favourite front- and rear-drivers at around £25,000 are the Peugeot Sport 208 GTI and the Toyota GT86. For drivers there's still nothing from the MX-5/124 clan (or anywhere, in fact) to better the Toyota for attainable RWD thrills, while the Peugeot tops the junior hot hatch ranks thanks to its combination of punchy performance, pert good looks and fine dynamics. We'd expect it to still be there or thereabouts even once the new Fiesta ST, Yaris GRMN and Polo GTI have arrived in the UK too, which is why it's here. Many will have their allegiances and preferences already, but the fact is that buyers have rarely has it so good, the level of aptitude and resolve in both these cars is pretty damn impressive.


Let's clear up a couple of things from the start: the colour thing is a coincidence, honest. We have the orange Peugeot on long-term loan, asked Toyota for a GT86 and an Orange Edition car arrived; hopefully you can understand why we only took a couple of pictures of them together... The second source of contention will be the respective prices. This Orange Edition (with optional, er, orange paint) nudges the price over £30k, which is a lot. Even with all the options 'our' Peugeot is only £24k. For the sake of argument we'll use cars from the classifieds to illustrate the affordable side of this debate, but still the price is in favour of the Peugeot: this 208 is £17.5k,while this GT86 with a few more miles is £21k.

Given the Toyota is already at a significant fiscal disadvantage in this comparison, it seems the best place to begin. Fortunately for the little GT86, it doesn't take long behind its new, smaller diameter wheel to have you questioning why you'd ever have to spend more money than this on a sports car. It just feels so innately right as a package for people who like driving; it sounds like the usual trite (or should that be tripe?) comment from a car journalist, but so much of what so many cars do wrong in their relationship with the driver is right in the GT86. You sit low in a supportive, adjustable seat, clasping a steering wheel that can be brought exactly the right distance from your chest. Your hand falls where the gearknob is sited, the pedals are perfect and the visibility superb. Between that central tacho and new display panel with fluid temps, everything you need to know about the car is right in front of your eyes. You're in the mood for driving before moving an inch.


Fortunately, as you'll probably know from the past half a dozen years of evangelising, the reality more than lives up to the promise. The GT86 is alive, eager and immensely engaging, giving the driver everything they would require to have a tremendously good time on any road. It's small and light and agile, the excellent visibility afforded by the boxer engine meaning you can place it perfectly. That engine needs revs, but the way it responds and the slickness of the gearbox means everything is in your hands to get the most from it. The brakes are so confidence inspiring that you'll shed only the amount of speed you need and not a jot more. The GT86 boasts the kind of attributes that make it enjoyable at whatever commitment level.

For the sake of this comparison, it's worth noting that the Toyota never lets you forget that it's rear-wheel drive, either. You're not going to be lighting up the rears in fourth gear on a straight bit of road, but you can feel the push from behind you under power and momentum brings the rear into play rather than just forcing the car into understeer. All the sensations you would want from your junior rear-drive sports car are most certainly present and correct here - the Toyota is a riot.

It says a lot about the Peugeot's quality that it still feels fantastic fun even after driving the GT86. It's a faster, firmer, more focused car initially than the Toyota, a greater sense of aggression running through it and greater attention paid to outright performance. Straight from the '86 the GTI feels more urgent thanks to its super sharp steering, more potent due to the additional torque, and a tad naughtier by simple fact of its more interesting noise.


Dynamically the two could hardly be more different, yet still end up being excellent fun. Despite what you might think, the Toyota is about balance, front and rear working in harmony to deliver its cohesive and rewarding drive. The Peugeot is all about its tenacious, unrelenting front end: not only is turn in grip high but traction is immense too, meaning you can get back on the throttle early and drag yourself away from the apex really quickly. If you're feeling more adventurous then use the brakes to keep the front end locked onto line; that in turn will take weight away from the back, the car's transition to oversteer quick but manageable. And hilarious. It gives you options, basically, and is about as far from prescriptive front-wheel drive as it's possible to be. The damping is assured, the brakes are strong, the gearshift is a bit baggy but quick enough: it's a pukka little pocket rocket, the Peugeot Sport 208, one that deserves greater recognition that it currently receives.

There are key areas where the Toyota begins to edge ahead, however. It happens all the time in these tests, where the very top of one model range is brought together with the bottom of another: think of when M3s are compared with 911s and AMG drop tops are pitched against junior supercars, that sort of thing. Eventually the shortcomings of the base product begin to make themselves known, as the (extremely good) slower car made fast is exposed by the purpose built sporty thing.

The Toyota's body feels stiffer and the car more stable as a result; while the Peugeot's skipping and jumping around at the limit can be exciting, it's the Toyota that's more composed and more confidence inspiring as a result. The brake feel is better, the control weights are more in sync and there's a feeling of great mechanical toughness that's absent in the Peugeot; it feels like something with a lot of untapped potential, whereas the 208 doesn't feel far off its performance peak. Both very entertaining ways of making a fun car, yet also quite different.


From a purely dynamic perspective, then, the Toyota has to win it. It's the more rewarding, more satisfying and more engaging car at all commitment levels, and remains perhaps more valid to enthusiasts than it ever has. Of course it has its problems, but if you're fed up of numb and aloof sports cars that don't come alive until you're at dangerous speeds, you must try a GT86. That's not the end of the story, though. As well as being cheaper to buy, the 208 emits 50g/km less CO2 than the GT86 and officially returns another 15mpg as well. From a buying perspective it has a lot going for it in this comparison, and if it's the one you go for you won't be disappointed.

If you can stretch to an '86, however, and can absorb the additional running costs, then it's a fantastic little car. It feels like the more expensive proposition, if that can help you justify the additional outlay, and is a sports car of greater joy than many that cost a great deal more. So it could be seen as something of a bargain. They're two great cars, but in this battle of front-wheel drive against rear, the victory must go to the latter.


SPECIFICATION - TOYOTA GT86

Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 151@6,400rpm
0-62mph: 7.6sec
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: 1,247kg
MPG: 36.2
CO2: 180g/km
Price: £27,219 (As tested £30,200 comprised of £650 for pearlescent paint and £750 for Touch2 with Go)

SPECIFICATION - PEUGEOT SPORT 208 GTI

Engine: 1,593cc, turbocharged 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 208@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 221@3,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.5sec
Top speed: 143mph
Weight: 1,160kg
MPG: 52.3
CO2: 125g/km
Price: £23,550 (As tested £24,250 comprising £250 for Peugeot Connect SOS & Assistance, £250 for Active City Brake and £200 for Reversing Camera)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Peanus

Original Poster:

80 posts

38 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
As much as the GT86 is a fun and great car, charging £27k for it in my opinion is a bit of a piss-take.

Johnny5hoods

291 posts

52 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
Good article. One of your best for a long time. Answers the sort of questions PHers are wondering about. How about doing the same kind of comparison for various used drivers' cars? Maybe a comparison of two cars at £10K, two at £5K and maybe a couple of warm hatches at £2K. WRX vs 330i; Fiesta ST vs MX5; that sort of thing. Turn it into a series.

SidewaysSi

4,558 posts

167 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
Johnny5hoods said:
Good article. One of your best for a long time. Answers the sort of questions PHers are wondering about. How about doing the same kind of comparison for various used drivers' cars? Maybe a comparison of two cars at £10K, two at £5K and maybe a couple of warm hatches at £2K. WRX vs 330i; Fiesta ST vs MX5; that sort of thing. Turn it into a series.
Good idea. But you would need to ensure the writer could see past worn components. A used car without a proper refresh won't be fit.

200Plus Club

4,391 posts

211 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
25grand or more for those two prize turkeys! The world has gone mad.

Off top of head for £25k

Bmw Z4m Coupe
Exige perhaps
Any type of Elise
Well sorted Sunbeam Lotus
911





GravelBen

13,284 posts

163 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
200Plus Club said:
25grand or more for those two prize turkeys! The world has gone mad.

Off top of head for £25k

Bmw Z4m Coupe
Exige perhaps
Any type of Elise
Well sorted Sunbeam Lotus
911
Brand new with factory warranties and everything? Where do I sign!
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200Plus Club

4,391 posts

211 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
25 grand for a fwd pug lol.
It should be made of gold warrantied for ever and come with free petrol! Gordon Bennett!

CedricN

344 posts

78 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
Great review! Don't forget about slippery conditions aswell, then one of them becomes a traction light disco and the other becomes even better. Not an insignificant factor for us in snowy countries. Would enjoy to live with both, but the 86 will be my choice, in a not distant future i hope.

Itsallicanafford

1,853 posts

92 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
It’s going over old ground but much that I love the fact the GT86 exists, it’s too expensive for the performance. I understand it’s draw and the less is more performance and fine handling but at £30k it’s just going to get savaged by the new breed of hot hatches which cost the same. Absolutely savaged.

I think I could take hot hatches giving my GT86 a mauling on a trackday buy you would need a thick skin to stomach it when you start holding up the £2k Clio 182’s...

jamoor

9,495 posts

148 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
Itsallicanafford said:
It’s going over old ground but much that I love the fact the GT86 exists, it’s too expensive for the performance. I understand it’s draw and the less is more performance and fine handling but at £30k it’s just going to get savaged by the new breed of hot hatches which cost the same. Absolutely savaged.

I think I could take hot hatches giving my GT86 a mauling on a trackday buy you would need a thick skin to stomach it when you start holding up the £2k Clio 182’s...
There's alot more to the gt86 than fine handling and performance. It's in the details which no hot hatch will have.

davyvee

147 posts

68 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
Depreciation on GT86s has been very kind.

I sold mine two years ago for 14k. Can't get one for less than 15 by the looks of it. Free motoring for some folk.

Leggy

779 posts

155 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
GT 86 definitely on the list. RWD much nicer to drive than FWD at those sorts of power outputs.
My JCW spent a lot of it’s time with the traction light on scrabbling for grip. Didn’t make for a very fluid driving experience.

Itsallicanafford

1,853 posts

92 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
jamoor said:
Itsallicanafford said:
It’s going over old ground but much that I love the fact the GT86 exists, it’s too expensive for the performance. I understand it’s draw and the less is more performance and fine handling but at £30k it’s just going to get savaged by the new breed of hot hatches which cost the same. Absolutely savaged.

I think I could take hot hatches giving my GT86 a mauling on a trackday buy you would need a thick skin to stomach it when you start holding up the £2k Clio 182’s...
There's alot more to the gt86 than fine handling and performance. It's in the details which no hot hatch will have.
Sure....apart from Rwd, can you explain these?




nickfrog

8,994 posts

150 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
200Plus Club said:
25 grand for a fwd pug lol.
It should be made of gold warrantied for ever and come with free petrol! Gordon Bennett!
Actually now that you have grasped the fact that brand new cars tend to be more expensive than second hand ones you might also understand that a 208 GTI's list price is £22k new or £16k new from Drive The Deal.

A 205 GTI 1.9's list was £12,265 in 1994, which would be £23,192 in today's money. And the discounts were far lower then. In other words today's car is quit a lot cheaper.

I can't wait for your next contribution ! wink (particularly if you discover how much old fwd pugs go for at auctions nowadays...)


Edited by nickfrog on Saturday 3rd March 09:11

Kenny Powers

1,418 posts

60 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
200Plus Club said:
25grand or more for those two prize turkeys! The world has gone mad.

Off top of head for £25k

Bmw Z4m Coupe
Exige perhaps
Any type of Elise
Well sorted Sunbeam Lotus
911
New kitchen?
Conservatory?
Loft conversion?
Cocaine?

What’s your point?

mikey P 500

928 posts

120 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
davyvee said:
Depreciation on GT86s has been very kind.

I sold mine two years ago for 14k. Can't get one for less than 15 by the looks of it. Free motoring for some folk.
They are not quite free motoring as too new for that, but do drop very slowly for age of car, you can certainly get for below £15k I would say £11k for auto and £12k for manuel would give you plenty of choice in today's market, think the pug will drop faster so price gap less of an issue.

kultsch88

74 posts

99 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
As hinted above, the test I'd like to see is used GT86 vs used Megane RS 265/275.

In a position where I'm tempted to downgrade (upgrade?) my Golf R for something more involving.

nickfrog

8,994 posts

150 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
mikey P 500 said:
davyvee said:
Depreciation on GT86s has been very kind.

I sold mine two years ago for 14k. Can't get one for less than 15 by the looks of it. Free motoring for some folk.
They are not quite free motoring as too new for that, but do drop very slowly for age of car, you can certainly get for below £15k I would say £11k for auto and £12k for manuel would give you plenty of choice in today's market, think the pug will drop faster so price gap less of an issue.
Mine was free motoring. Bought £16,850 in November 13 from a Subaru dealer of all places - sold £16,999 privately in August 14. Maybe I was lucky, or just seasonal adjustment.

200Plus Club

4,391 posts

211 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
nickfrog said:
Actually now that you have grasped the fact that brand new cars tend to be more expensive than second hand ones you might also understand that a 208 GTI's list price is £22k new or £16k new from Drive The Deal.

A 205 GTI 1.9's list was £12,265 in 1994, which would be £23,192 in today's money. And the discounts were far lower then. In other words today's car is quit a lot cheaper.

I can't wait for your next contribution ! wink (particularly if you discover how much old fwd pugs go for at auctions nowadays...)


Edited by nickfrog on Saturday 3rd March 09:11
I've grasped they are overpriced crap tbh.
No way Hose. Way too many exciting cars around for Pug Gti money. Fwd scrabbling is so yesterday. ( and I've had old 205gti)

nickfrog

8,994 posts

150 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
200Plus Club said:
I've grasped they are overpriced crap tbh.
No way Hose. Way too many exciting cars around for Pug Gti money. Fwd scrabbling is so yesterday. ( and I've had old 205gti)
I knew you wouldn't disappoint. The 208 at £16k new seems brilliant value for money indeed.

We were on a very wet Snetterton in December me and 2 friends : Megane, M3 E92 and Boxster S. Despite short shifting, traction out of Montreal and Agostini was exactly the same : very poor whether fwd, f.e. RWD or m.e. RWD. There was nothing in it "tractively".

It's as much about the set up, than which wheels are driven. IME anyway.






Edited by nickfrog on Saturday 3rd March 09:55

sr.guiri

176 posts

22 months

Saturday 3rd March
quotequote all
I've read so many road tests and seen so many videos on the GT86 and I don't think there is anyone who has said that this thing is anything less than brilliant. Anyone seen Chris Harris' videos on this - he loves it and he has the experience of comparing it to so many much more expensive alternatives, that should be better but aren't. I have seen a few of his videos and I don't think I've seen him wearing that smile and talking so enthusiastically before about anything.

There will be the brand and HP snobs that'll disagree, but I'll go with Chris' (and Pistonheads') recommendations, rather than theirs.

I wouldn't buy a new one myself, can't see the point, and for me, a manufacturers warranty just gets in the way of me tinkering with it. 5 year old examples, with low KMs and unencumbered by a manufacturers warranty are touching 12.000€ (where I live and probs cheaper in the UK). Finally, you an buy a GT86 without warranty and start tinkering, AWESOME!!

If I weren't investing into other things, I'd have one in a heartbeat. But at weekends it'd wear slicks.

Hats off to Toyota for making a relatively cheap, fun, RW drive, lightweight car. Nobody does that anymore rage