Peugeot Sport 208 GTI: PH Fleet

Now that the excitement of driving KR67 DHD on track has worn off, it's time to turn my attention to what it's actually like to drive on the road. Which, lets be honest, is where the majority of 208 GTIs will spend most if not all of their time.

I think it's worth starting by addressing concerns over the driving position, given that it seems to divide opinion. I'll admit it was a little awkward to get used to initially, but after dropping the seat to its lowest setting and the steering wheel to a similar point, I wouldn't have it any other way. Other steering wheels feel huge in comparison, and it really adds to the experience and the darty character of the car.

The 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport has been around for some time now, and in my 4,000 miles of 'ownership' so far, I've experienced the frustrations that other owners talk about. The throttle response can have a mind of its own; setting off from a standing start can take a second or two for the throttle to wake up and at lower revs it can feel hesitant to respond. But once you're moving that falls into insignificance, it's just so damn good to drive.

The greatest reward for me is ultimately in the chassis and the handling. You can brake late, throw it into a corner, plant your foot on the throttle early and feel the limited-slip differential bite and pull you out the other side without the inherent understeer that other hatches in this class would fall into. It still makes me giggle at just how capable it is. The steering response through the little wheel is fast and you can change direction quicker than a whippet, although it can feel a bit numb at times. The Michelin Pilot Super Sports are as good on the road as they are the track with bucket loads of grip, providing the level of predictability that you'd hope for.

Sitting in the car as a passenger I did notice that the damping felt a bit bouncy on uneven roads, but I don't notice it as a driver and importantly it's not crashy or too firm. The wizards at Peugeot Sport have developed a set up that perhaps disconcertingly never feels like you need to back off, you can just keep on pushing. The beefy Brembo brakes bite quickly but allow enough modulation that you're not hitting the windscreen. The gearshift is clean but it's no revelation; then again no one else is matching the crisp dreamy shifts that you'll find in a Honda Civic Type R.

Simmering down for the commute to work it's a lovely place to sit. The seats are super comfy for my 120-mile round trip, although it's a shame there's no heated seat option at this price point, especially when they're available on the standard 208 GTI. It does drone a bit at motorway speeds, but not enough to be a nuisance and barely noticeable with music playing. While I've seen some criticism of the infotainment system I actually think it's great; the nav is intuitive, the sound system is OK and Apple CarPlay is brilliant. It's a nice clean set up with the touch screen and no myriad of buttons to fumble around with. Even if the default language is French when you start a new profile and have to change it to English...

Fuel economy on my drive from Kent to Twickenham will easily return high 40s and I even managed an average of 52mpg one morning. My average over 4,000 miles so far is 39.1mpg so it's a fair way off the combined 52mpg that Peugeot claims but still pretty respectable given that it's a mix of motorway, city, track and B-road hooning.

My only real disappointment is the noise, or lack of. There's no induction roar, no turbo whistle and nothing exciting from the exhaust to match the pace of the car. It's frustrating to think it shares the same Prince engine as the previous generation Mini John Cooper Works, and that's an absolute riot in Sport Mode with its pops and bangs. Yes, these are mostly manufactured in today's pick of hot hatches, but at least there's something to listen to. Perhaps there's an aftermarket solution for my woes that provides a bit more excitement.

As an all rounder though, of the cars currently on sale in this segment I think the Peugeot Sport 208 GTI is hard to beat. Its appetite to be driven hard is bigger than Adam Richman in a burger joint, yet its sensitivity to inputs makes it a proper drivers' car that's thoroughly rewarding when you treat it with respect. On top of this it's so easy to live with every day and it looks great too with the revised design to replace the chrome finishes with black. The elephant in the room is due in the UK for first drives in early summer, so hopefully we'll get the new Ford Fiesta ST in for a twin test before KR67 DHD leaves our fleet.

There's no denying the outgoing Fiesta's success, with nearly 27,000 on the road in the UK according to Compare that to less than 5,000 for the 208 GTI, and it's understandable that the latter is a rare sight on our roads. Not that that's a bad thing though, quite the opposite. I've seen one other Orange Power'd Pug so far during my ownership, and the exclusivity has a huge appeal for me. I don't want to blend in with the rest of the crowd, I want to stand out. And that's exactly what the 208 GTI does.

Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport
Run by: Ben
On fleet since: November 2017
Mileage: 3,945
List price new: £23,550 (As tested £24,250 comprising £250 for Peugeot Connect SOS & Assistance, £250 for Active City Brake and £200 for Reversing Camera)
Last month at a glance: It may not sound that exciting, but the little Peugeot's drive more than makes up for it!



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Comments (20) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dale487 06 Feb 2018

    I have similar inconsistent throttle feel when setting off on my SEAT Leon FR 1.4ACT - sometimes it shoots off from a stand still, other times it nearly stalls (for the same amount of throttle input). And this in normal mode of Eco, normal & sport - I'm guessing its either drive by wire throttles or modern turbo engines.

  • 3yardy3 06 Feb 2018

    Seems like a great car but unfortunately until a joint test with a Fiesta ST reveals you would pick the 208 over the ST I can't see anyone buying this over the Ford...

  • stuart_83 06 Feb 2018

    3yardy3 said:
    Seems like a great car but unfortunately until a joint test with a Fiesta ST reveals you would pick the 208 over the ST I can't see anyone buying this over the Ford...
    At least you could own the Peugeot without worry of it being nicked outside your house / workplace / supermarket car park.

  • FN2TypeR 06 Feb 2018

    3yardy3 said:
    Seems like a great car but unfortunately until a joint test with a Fiesta ST reveals you would pick the 208 over the ST I can't see anyone buying this over the Ford...
    I would! biggrin

  • cossers 06 Feb 2018

    I bought my r27 Clio from a guy who replaced it with one of these, think he really likes it!

    Quite a nice looking car!

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