There’s little doubt the Peugeot 208 GTI is a good hot hatch. It’s fast, goes around corners with gusto, is reasonably economical and looks good. It is, however, not a great one and is unlikely to follow its iconic grandparent into the annals of history.
The 208’s critics point to its softer edge, lacking the sharp and incisive character of the Fiesta ST or Clio 200. Peugeot would argue that the 208 GTI is easier to live with than its Ford and Renault competitors, and they’d be right, but that’s a bit like choosing your future spouse simply because they do a decent Sunday lunch. There’s more to life than huge Yorkshire puddings and crispy roast potatoes.
So the news from Goodwood is of particular interest to Francophiles who want to see a return to the glory days of the 1980s. Peugeot have decided to celebrate 30 years of their diminutive GTI by subjecting the 208 to a light fitness program. A few weeks of bench-pressing and cross country runs have resulted in this, the new GTI 30th Anniversary edition.
The GTI 30th has a total output of 208bhp (do you see what they did there?) and 300Nm, but there’s much more to it than a little extra power. For a start there’s the Torsen mechanical differential from the ballistic RCZ R to improve traction out of corners, while a set of Brembo stoppers will enhance braking power and durability for track days. The ride is lowered by 10mm, the track widened 22mm front and 16mm rear), the springs stiffened and the dampers reclibrated too. This is no cynical ECU-tweak and sticker job.
Even the ESP and traction control systems have been tweaked to be ‘less intrusive’, which should give that Torsen diff plenty of chance to do its thing.
Cosmetically we’re looking at a few changes, starting with larger 18-inch black wheels with special 30th Anniversary badging. Surrounding the wheels are matt black wheel-arch extensions and inbetween are matching sill extensions. The chrome trim on the body has also been replaced by matt black strips and the GTI badge that sat in the C-pillar now bears the same ‘208 GTI 30th’ moniker as the wheels.
Fortunately the distinctive red-and-black look isn’t compulsory, with Ruby Red and Pearl White appealing to those of us who really don’t like two-tone paintwork.
So could this be the car to make the reigning Fiesta ST sweat a little? On paper it sounds like it really could and seeing as Peugeot have already shifted 10,000 GTIs it’s easy to see this 30th anniversary model selling out quickly. Prices? Nothing yet, but expect it to expect it to be north of £20k.
Peugeot 208 GTI 30th Anniversary Specs
|Performance & Economy||208 GTI||208 GTI 30th Anniversary|
|Engine||1,598cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol||1,598cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive||6-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||200 / 197||211 / 208|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||/ 203||300 / 221|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||6.8|
|Top Speed (mph)||143|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||139|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||47|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,160|