Despite the fact that I hadn't actually driven a 208 before KR67 DHD arrived on our fleet, I just knew I was going to like it. It was a combination of my optimism, liking the way it looked and, having driven a 308 GTI, an expectation to deliver. The bar was set high then. Over the last four months and 6,000 miles though, I wasn't prepared for just how much it would grow on me.
I'm spending a couple of weeks in a 308 GTI at the moment while the 208 is away having a rear-end rattle diagnosed and hopefully fixed. I miss it. While the 308 is essentially very much of the same but in a larger package with more space, power and some additional maturity, given the choice I'd stick with my long-termer. There's no doubt that a 308 is better suited to someone requiring the extra space and doors, but I don't and despite the boost in performance, it doesn't leave the 208 feeling like it's lacking in any way.
I know it's easy to say more power isn't everything, especially given that the
in my own fleet has 55 per cent more horsepower, but in recent months I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that circa 200hp and 1,200kg is the perfect recipe for our roads in Britain. We had loads of fun last month shooting Matt's
GT86 vs. 208 GTI feature
and both manufacturers would get the Paul Hollywood handshake for their perfect bake.
Driving more powerful cars is undeniably intoxicating, but I find that I spend more time frustrated not being able to use all of the power on the road. At least where I live in Kent, where I probably spend 95 per cent of my time driving. And while Matt may have concluded that Toyota was the Star Baker in that round, the day confirmed that you don't really need any more power to have huge amounts of fun. You can squeeze out every bit of power, extending each gear without going excessively fast, yet going quickly enough to get your heart beating faster and put a big smile on your face. Both felt relatively lightweight, predictable and playful through the corners, changing directly as quickly as you could turn the wheel. You might not be able to keep up with that guy in front in his M3, but I bet you're having just as much fun.
There are no selectable driver modes in the 208, not even a Sport button. And while the latter would be welcomed for some more noise from the exhaust, the simplicity is what makes this car so great. No need to fumble around with buttons to select your preferred throttle response, damping or fake induction noise - just get in and go. Fast. And let's face it; it's one less thing to go wrong too. So while manufacturers are constantly playing the numbers game in an attempt to stay ahead of the competition in the premium hot hatch segment, there is luckily still such a fantastic selection of cars for sale today that match my recipe. Not to mention that fuel, tax, parts and servicing costs will be lighter on the wallet, too.
So whether you've got £2,000 to spend on a Renaultsport Clio or £20,000 (or £200 a month) on a 208 GTI or GT86 fresh from the factory, there's something out there for everyone. For me, the supermini hot hatch segment is going to be one of the most exciting for 2018 and I can't wait to see what Peugeot comes up with next.
Car: Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport
Run by: Ben
On fleet since: November 2017
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: Straightforward, good looking and powerful enough - Ben's Peugeot is still going well too!
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