Peugeot 208 GTi hatchback (2013-2018) - Engines, drive & performance
The Peugeot 208 GTi is fast and fun, but it’s not enough to topple the Fiesta ST
Very few hot-hatchback enthusiasts will be disappointed by how any 208 GTi feels on the road and you'll need to be quite an experienced driver to fully appreciate the additional sporting focus brought with the 'GTi by Peugeot Sport' package.
Compared to the standard model, the distance between left and right wheels is 6mm greater, which, in conjunction with 10mm lower suspension, increases cornering stability. The springs are stiffer, too – this comes rather at the detriment of passenger comfort, but keen drivers will feel the benefit.
Like any good hot hatchback, the 208 GTi is all about cornering prowess, and the wide, sticky, 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport tyres of the Peugeot Sport provide immense grip so you can carry speed through even demanding bends. You can make full use of the turbocharged engine's 208bhp, too, thanks to a Torsen limited-slip differential that apportions power to the front wheel best able to put it to the road.
The GTi feels beautifully balanced, too, and this helps it to promote a real sense of confidence for the driver. There'll be little drama if you release the accelerator mid-corner you might experience gentle oversteer but a spin is only likely if you're really careless – the precise, direct steering makes it easy to pull the Peugeot back into line. That steering allows loads big fun even at relatively low speeds, letting you choose your cornering line before its grippy tyres ensure your instructions are followed immediately.
The high-performance brakes – from specialist maker Brembo – are strong and feel responsive, further adding to driver confidence. The small steering wheel is a little disconcerting at first, but that feeling quickly disappears. The GTi is easy to drive around town, too, thanks to compact dimensions and decent visibility.
Peugeot 208 GTi petrol engine
Only one engine is available for the 208 GTi. The turbocharged 208bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine feels quick. That’s backed up by a 0-62mph time of just 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 143mph – enough to shame sports cars like the Audi TT and entry-level Mercedes SLC.
The engine itself loves high revs, which is where most of its power lies. It’s a very eager performer, willing you on to go faster. It’s not quite as aggressive as some of its rivals, though, going for a smoother power delivery rather than a raw driving experience.
The six-speed manual gearbox is slick to use and pairs with the engine nicely, delivering sweet shifts through the gears. However, the accelerator pedal is a little high and overly sensitive, so you might rev the engine a little too hard if you aren’t used to it.