Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Peugeot”

Peugeot 108 & 308 SW First Drives at UK launch

108

Peugeot 108So, the second iteration of the C1/Aygo/108 has arrived. Toyota have unveiled a funky little thing with an X-Men style front end, Citroen’s styling has gone down the multi-level headlight route, similar to the Juke, and finally, here’s Peugeot‘s new 108.

Unsurprisingly it shares its range of 3-cylinder petrol engines with the C1, but the three cars are far more individualised than the original trio, with Peugeot’s styling being very different from the other two and their emphasis apparently being on personalisation, a theme that’s worked so well with the MINI and the Fiat 500.

Visually it’s fairly obvious that the front end of the 108 is towing the party line and it’s very similar to a 208 or 308, it’s just been scaled down a little. It’s full of features in a relatively small space, in a similar vein to the BMW i3 and even the Aston Martin Cygnet.

Peugeot have identified that 60% of 108 buyers will be women, presumably young ones (watch the new TV advert here -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuFgDpouNR8) and from this they’ve deduced that their target market will be attracted to the personalisation element on offer. Any top chef will tell you that a menu shouldn’t offer too much choice (Vauxhall Adam!!!) and thankfully Peugeot have limited the themes available on the 108 to 7 distinctive flavours, ranging from two-tone paint (Dual) to a barcode running the length of the car (Barcode).

108 Top! in Barcode theme

108 Top! in Barcode theme

The 108 also comes in a choice of 3 or 5 door, the usual Peugeot spec levels, and perhaps more pertinently, the option to have a full-length sunroof on models they’ve christened Top! Just one note of warning though – headroom in the rear on hardtop models is acceptable – opt for Top! and anyone over 5′ tall will find it cramped.

108 interior with very handy 7" touchscreen

108 interior with very handy 7″ touchscreen

3-cylinder engines are all the rage at the moment and I’m a big fan. The 108 comes with a choice of 1.0l (68bhp) or 1.2 (82bhp) with both engines coming in under the magical 100g/km CO2 mark, so no VED to pay. The 1 litre is slightly more economical than the 1.2 (52.3mpg vs 56.5), but if your budget will stretch to it, I’d opt for the 1.2 as the smaller engine does feel strained at higher speeds.

The 108’s wheelbase has been stretched compared to the 107, and you can tell. The handling feels more competent and bumps are absorbed much more readily, giving the 108 more grown-up road manners than its predecessor.

308 SW

48 - Peugeot 308 SWI was hugely impressed with the 308 when I reviewed it earlier this year so does it’s appeal continue when it’s stretched a little to give us the estate variant? I can’t deny that something’s lost in the looks department compared to the hatch – a car I still feel is probably the most attractive in its class. The wheelbase of the SW is extended by 11cm, and the rear overhang by 22cm, obviously this is to maximise load carrying capacity but the squat, purposeful look of the hatch is diluted somewhat by doing so.

35 - Peugeot 308 SWThe good news is that, not only is the loadspace it creates fairly vast (maximum 1,660 litres with seats folded flat), but the way the 308 SW handles is still impressive, just like its little brother. The diminutive steering wheel hasn’t gone – a feature I feel should be limited to sportier Peugeots, but the steering setup has been re-engineered on the SW to be less responsive – this is a good thing. I felt that the 308 hatch was a little twitchy for its own good and, personally, I think the whole range would benefit from the SW’s more relaxed manner.

The 108 is available from £8,245 and the 308 SW from £16,845 – full details at http://www.peugeot.co.uk

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Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDi 115 Feline – Driven and Reviewed

Peugeot 2008 front 3/4The 208 signalled the start of a return to form for Peugeot upon its release in 2012. With uncluttered looks and pleasing dimensions, it’s proved a hit and Peugeot are understandably keen to cash in on this success. Previous incarnations of this range (207) have included an elongated ‘SW’ model – basically offering more room whilst avoiding the ‘estate’ moniker that every manufacturer seems chronically allergic to these days.

Not so the 208 though; for now at least, the SW has been dropped in favour of an extra zero – giving us the 2008 we have on test here. It’s the latest in a long line of ‘crossover SUVs’ to go on sale in the UK, so it’s in good company. With no lack of competition though, the 2008 is going to have to offer something a bit different to make a success of itself.

Peugeot 2008 sideThe 208 lineage is visually apparent from just a glance – everything from the nose to the B pillar is very similar, with a more utilitarian front apron added to compensate for the raised ride height – a compulsory feature on any self-respecting SUV. Things get a little different towards the rear of the 2008, with a bulge and rails having been added to the roof which culminates in a more vertical, practical rear hatch.

Aviation-style hand brake.......apparently

Aviation-style hand brake…….apparently

The overall look of the 2008 is attractive and offers more visual presence than the 208 it’s based on. It also cleverly avoids the rather awkward look of the SW model it succeeds and this theme continues on the inside. There are some styling cues added to set it apart from lesser models, not least of which is one of the most original hand brake levers I’ve ever encountered; no boring, long cylinder with a grab handle here – the 2008 sports a fist shaped ‘aviation’ device. What this achieves exactly, I’m not sure but it’s certainly a novelty that causes no offence. Elsewhere, the 2008’s cabin space is typically Peugeot – there’s the low-slung, undersized steering wheel that continues to cause debate, and some of the plastics used unfortunately hark back to the questionable QC days of the brand – a shame when they’ve proved what they can achieve in this department with the new 308.

Slide rails in cargo area - so simple yet so effective

Slide rails in cargo area – so simple yet so effective

There are other additions to the inside of the 2008 that are more function than form and add to the every-day usability of the car. Features such as cargo slide- rails on the boot carpet and wipe-clean plastics around the boot aperture are very welcome when the extra space is actually used for carrying loads – nothing worse than scuffs and marks on your new upholstery and trim!

'Cielo' glass roof option with ambient lighting

‘Cielo’ glass roof option with ambient lighting

Our range-topping Feline spec test car came equipped with the standard ‘Cielo’ glass roof and blind. If you’re markedly over 6′ tall, it might be wise to experience first-hand whether this option’s for you, as the headroom it takes up could make driving uncomfortable, even with the height-adjustable seats on their lowest setting.

Our test car came equipped with Peugeot’s 1.6l e-HDi Diesel unit in 115bhp guise – coincidentally, the same power as the legendary 1.6 205 Gti. Don’t expect similar performance to the Gti though, the 205 weighed roughly the same as your average paperclip, and the 2008…..doesn’t. Don’t expect silky-smooth levels of refinement, either – the HDi is loud and clattery in an old-school kind of way, and it takes an absolute age to get to optimum temperature. That shouldn’t necessarily sway anyone towards the petrol options either, though. What the Diesel lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in performance and economy. It’s one of those engines that belies its official 0-62mph time of 10.4s, feeling far more perky in the real world, and ultimately, SUVs and crossovers get away with a bit more noise as it goes hand-in-hand with the rugged image they offer. There is a 92hp derivative of the same engine available that returns slightly better economy and even dips below the magical 100g/km Co2 mark (98g/km), but I’m not sure that the money saved would compensate for the extra 3 seconds on the 0-62 dash.

The raised ride-height doesn't impact too negatively on road manners

The raised ride-height doesn’t impact too negatively on road manners

Adding ground clearance to a car, even if it’s just a few inches, can change its road manners beyond all recognition. Not so the 2008 – Peugeot have kept things stiff and responsive, avoiding the wallowing sensation that ‘proper’ off-roaders can be blighted with.The levels of grip provided are surprisingly good, you just need to watch out for torque-steer if things get over-zealous on the loud pedal. This obviously means that once the tarmac runs out though, the 2008 isn’t going to act like the proverbial mountain goat – it’s just not going to happen. What Peugeot have provided to add some 4×4-like credibility is a very Land-Roverish function called Grip Control (standard on VTi 120, e-HDi 92(manual) and e-HDi 115 models in Allure and Feline specs). What this function provides is fairly self-explanatory, but to see it in action – go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTVPxHX1jZo&feature=youtu.be

Peugeot's Grip Control system

Peugeot’s Grip Control system

This area of the market has grown substantially over the last few years and it shows no signs of abating. The moral backlash against 4x4s hasn’t decreased their popularity at all, but the inflated price of fuel and VED has resulted in the advent of ‘crossovers’ that combine the rugged looks with more reasonable running costs. This means that the 2008 has some pretty stiff competition, but with the right engine, it’s got the looks and quality that’ll certainly appeal.

By Ben Harrington

 

Specifications; Peugeot 2008 Feline, Engine – 1.6l e-HDi, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 115bhp, Torque – 270Nm @ 1750rpm, Emissions – 106g/km CO2, Economy – 70.6mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 117mph, Acceleration – 10.4s 0-60mph, Price – £19,445

Peugeot's 2008 - the first car to come complete with it's own Standard Lamp.........that's a lie.

Peugeot’s 2008 – the first car to come complete with it’s own Standard Lamp………that’s a lie.

 

 

 

 

 

Peugeot 308 Feline THP 156 – Driven and Reviewed

Peugeot 308I think it would be fair to say that the design department at Peugeot have been going through what rock stars commonly refer to as their ‘wilderness years’ in recent times. Newer models such as the 208 and face-lifted RCZ aside, cars rolling off the Peugeot production line have been unfortunate enough to resemble the lovechild of a newly discovered, rain-forest dwelling amphibian, and Pete Burns.

But what’s this? Here to signal an end to taste and decency’s sabbatical, it’s the newly crowned Car of the Year, the new 308.

On face value alone, this model surely brings a breath of fresh air to Peugeot dealerships across the world, relieving their beleaguered salesmen of the need to avert potential customers’ gaze before they notice just how unsightly their potential new car actually is. I thought the initial press shots of the 308 were alluring but this is quite often the case, with the actual road-going model proving what can be done with a clever photographer and very little light. Not so the 308. Utilising the old adage that less is more, Peugeot have binned many unnecessary design cues and features and stuck to the principle of concentrating on making a car that people will find appealing.

Peugeot 308 side viewThe new 308 is lower and wider than its predecessor, and thanks to its new EMP2 platform, both front and rear overhangs have also been reduced, pushing all four wheels further towards their respective corners. These adjustments will usually add visual appeal to any model but I think it’d be unfair to solely heap praise on them without commenting on the actual lines and features of the 308. The neat double grille and absence of exaggerated jutting chin will hopefully mean an end to the ‘basking shark’ styling cues of recent Peugeots as the results are impossible to argue with. The sleek LED headlight cluster may not be the most original design on Earth, but there’s an attractive sense of organisation and purpose when combined with their slightly smaller mirror images directly beneath. Again, this is in stark contrast to the haphazard nature of the model it replaces.

Peugeot 308 rear light clusterThe rest of the 308 carries on in the same vein, with one broad line emanating from the front wing, rising up through both door handles and culminating in the central portion of some C shaped, ‘claw effect’ rear lights. At the rear, a relatively large bumper and small window combine to reduce the overall feeling of size, thus adding a more coupe feel to the whole event.

Peugeot 308 interiorIf sweeping changes have been made to the exterior of the 308, it’s fair to say the same treatment has been dished out to the living space too. Minimalist is the order of the day inside with many knobs and dials being removed and their functionality incorporated within the very iPad like central screen. It doesn’t take long to get used to this way of doing things and the screen is one of the most user-friendly I’ve come across. On the other hand, it is sometimes useful to just be able to adjust the temperature or stereo by pressing or turning a cheap plastic knob, rather than have one’s attention distracted by scrolling through numerous menus and images. The image from the reversing camera deserves special mention as the clarity is outstanding, almost HD. Conversely though, the SAT NAV system on our test car warrants special mention due to its inept approach to navigation. Why the software can’t be programmed into all systems at source to recognise postcodes is beyond me – every road’s got one. This requirement to input the desired road name and then which road it intersects is ridiculous – if I knew such details, I surely wouldn’t need a sat nav as I’d already be familiar with the area. That said, our system was quite insistent that we were 50 meters to the right of where we actually were anyway, and there was no persuading it that we weren’t rudely ploughing through the surrounding flowerbeds and gardens. Some gremlins need removing here I feel.

Peugeot 308 rear view cameraPeugeot have decided to migrate their miniature steering wheel project over from the 208, with the pretty, Evoque style jewelled dials being visible over the top of the wheel, not through it. A few people are insistent that it’s tricky to get a comfortable seating position whilst maintaining sight of the dials but I’ve no issue with it myself, having had the method explained properly to me. My only issue is how this go-kart esque wheel translates to the whole driving experience; obviously an adjustment of a smaller circumference wheel equates to a more dramatic effect at the driving wheels than a larger one would, that’s basic physics. This is all well and good in an intense, high-speed environment but it can make the 308 feel a little twitchy during everyday driving when a more relaxing ride might be what you’re after. I just feel that this diminutive wheel should possibly have been reserved for more driver-focussed Peugeots such as their Gti, RCZ and R models, and give everything else something a touch bigger to play with.

Peugeot 308 frontOur test car came equipped with Peugeot’s new 156bhp, 1.6l petrol unit under the hood and, as much as it pains me to say it, I’d opt for the Diesel if it were me. There’s nothing wrong with this petrol engine, per se, although I did find it a little reluctant to rev past 3000rpm, it’s just that when you compare the alternative, it makes more sense. The mid 90’s saw Peugeot’s 306 popularise Diesel engines when they were still the reserve of tractors and taxis, this 308 should continue where it left off. Yes, the 2.0 HDi is around £1,700 more expensive than the same spec petrol model, but the performance is very similar (8.9s – 62mph vs 8.4s), and the gains made in mpg(68.9 vs 48.7), Co2(105g/km vs 134) and bucket loads of torque easily justify the extra layout.

Peugeot 308 wheelHandling characteristics have always been one of Peugeot’s strong suits and this 308 isn’t too shabby at all. Considering this isn’t wearing a Gti badge, or any other performance led moniker for that matter, it’s more than capable of tackling the twisty stuff. The front will be tempted to understeer if anything, but the stiff-feeling rear end brings things back into line with something of a jolt before long, it just takes a certain amount of trust in the 308’s pretty sorted chassis. One aspect of this Feline spec 308 that would force me to save some money and opt for a lesser model is the 18” wheels that come as standard. There’s no doubting their visual impact – they’re cleverly designed and fill the arches nicely, it’s just the effect they have on the 308’s ride that leaves something to be desired. Coupled with the intrusive tyre noise they generate, it’s another feature I’d leave for ‘Gti’ and ‘R’ models; best to stick with 16’s or 17’s for the sake of comfort.

Peugeot 308 front 3-4 lowPeugeot 308 rearThis new 308 model is light years ahead of the model it replaces, both in terms of design and refinement. I challenge anyone to be disappointed with the cabin plastics, even out of direct sight and this is a good indication of the direction Peugeot are heading in with quality becoming more of a priority. The overall drive is good, not quite Focus standards but not a million miles away, but this isn’t why people will buy a 308; it’s the looks that have seen this model prove popular. I’ll go out on a limb here and state that this is the most attractive car in its class, didn’t think you’d read that about a Peugeot, did you?

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Peugeot 308 Feline THP 156, Engine – 1.6l petrol, Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 156BHP, Torque – 240Nm @ 1400rpm, Emissions – 134g/km CO2, Economy – 48.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 132 mph, Acceleration – 8.4s 0-62mph, Price – £21,345 OTR, £22,020 as tested.

For full details, go to http://www.peugeot.co.uk

Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200 – Driven and Reviewed

Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200

Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200

Coupe. Once a term reserved exclusively for the type of car that set pulses racing, conjuring up images of sleek, swoopy lines and dramatic performance to do them justice. It may be fair to say that the coupe ideal has been somewhat diluted in recent times though, with manufacturers applying the moniker to anything with two doors and a roof. Two doors isn’t even a prerequisite though, with certain German manufacturers doing their best to cash in on the desirable, non-staid – coupe image by giving some large saloon cars ‘fastback’ lines and thereby transforming their silhouette from ‘3 dull boxes’ to ‘sculpted by artists’.

Note the new - non silly mouth

Note the new – non silly mouth

What we have here though is the real deal and it comes in the shape of Peugeot‘s RCZ, complete with new, non silly mouth. This is one of those cars that somehow makes the arduous journey from motor show concept to finished article, pretty much unscathed, and – oh my, pretty it certainly is.

Those lines are attractive, to say the least

Those lines are attractive, to say the least

Karmann Ghia seen on street in Faubourg Marign...

Karmann Ghia seen on street in Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. Side view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lets get one thing clear though. Since its inception, the RCZ has drawn direct comparison with the ubiquitous TT, with certain corners even accusing Peugeot of a lack of imagination as their car simply apes the Audi. Even during my week with the car, many folk would glance over and dismissively state ‘oh yeah, it’s that Peugeot that looks like a TT’. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the TT and there are certainly worse cars to be accused of looking like, but if one actually compares the two, the similarities magically disappear before ones eyes. If anything, the RCZ’s squat stance and potent looking rear arches are more reminiscent of the achingly pretty Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. But personally, I think it’s only fair to let the RCZ  stand up on its own two feet, without any help from Bavaria, thank you very much!

Peugeot RCZ GT rear and side highThe RCZ is one of those cars that impressively achieves the difficult balance between grabbing ones attention with a plethora of pleasing features, without falling into the ‘so busy, my eyes don’t know what to look at first’ trap. The basic shape is pleasing by its very nature, with an apparent symmetry achieved between front and rear, and a living space that seems to fit into the ideal shape with minimal fuss or disruption, as though the designers refused to compromise their beautiful creation with something as inconvenient as room for seats. Or people.

Attempts to ignore this roof will be futile

Attempts to ignore this roof will be futile

It’s impossible to discuss the RCZ without being drawn to that ‘double bubble’ glass roof. Peugeot should be commended for their perseverance in seeing this pleasing yet – surely, vexatious feature all the way through to production. Mounds in roofs were originally provided on racing cars to enable any inhabitants to fit their helmets in and this purpose is still valid in the RCZ – not necessarily for helmets maybe, but the extra headroom the bubbles provide in the typical 2+2 rear seats is very welcome. Aside from this, it’s ‘wrap around’ nature aids the introduction of natural light and also eliminates around 80% of the C-post blind-spot which all too often takes away from the coupe experience when negotiating a tricky T-junction.

So, a big tick in the looks box, but what about the other, all important aspect of the coupe brand – the way it drives?

Peugeot RCZ GT front headlightThis particular flavour of RCZ – the GT THP 200, shares many of its oily bits with its stable-mate – the 208 GTi. The engine, gearbox and much of the running gear are the same and yet, the whole experience is somehow……better. That’s not to say faster though – the RCZ loses nearly a second to the 208 whilst dashing to your 62mph destination, but the journey is preferable in every way. The slinky, low nature of the RCZ must go someway towards enhancing the experience, as it’s hard to imagine anything less than a comprehensive RCZ victory in that particular race.

Peugeot RCZ GT front cornerIt’s whilst negotiating the twisty stuff that the similarities with the 208 really dissipate though. The set-up of the RCZ somehow swaps the driven wheels from front to rear – or that’s how it feels, anyway. There’s very little in the way of understeer, possibly due to the wise decision to restrict the role of the driven wheels to harnessing 200bhp, whilst also tackling their directional duties – any more than this and things usually come unstuck.

One of my particular bugbears with, not only the 208 GTi, but many modern performance cars is the lack of aural experience. I appreciate that the shackles of todays legislations are restrictive to say the least, but there are ways round them (see Fiesta ST). The RCZ GT is pleasantly satisfying in this department though. Push the needle past 4000rpm and there’s an initial thrum, followed by a resonating roar that enters the cabin and seemingly bounces off every internal surface with acoustic aplomb. It’s obviously no screaming F1 car from the outside but hey, I guess you can’t have everything.

Peugeot RCZ front and side lowPeugeot have been desperately trying to abandon their dull, lifeless image for a few years now and this RCZ, especially with its new face makes huge steps in this direction. That’s not to say its perfect – some nice interior touches (clock, leather dash etc), that you wouldn’t necessarily expect in a Pug are let down by some very low-grade cabin plastics, not to mention the generic, non-special steering wheel, and that’s a shame. It’s certainly not the end of the world though and shouldn’t put any potential buyer off, although the price tag of the higher specced models such as this GT (£26,635 OTR) could possibly justify greater attention to detail.

Peugeot have recently confirmed the future production of a 267bhp ‘R’ model, so if outright power’s your thing, that may be worth holding onto your money for. Less is very often more though, and if it’s understated beauty, useable power and poise that delight – this GT model is possibly more for you.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200, Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 200bhp, Torque – 275Nm, Emissions – 155g/km CO2, Economy – 42.2 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 146mph, Acceleration – 7.6s 0-62mph, Price – £26,635 OTR, £29,970 as tested.

Peugeot 208 GTi – Driven and Reviewed

When Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement from management earlier this year, Manchester United were left with the unenviable task of replacing one of the most successful managers since the notion of hoofing an inflated pigskin was deemed to be an idea worth taking seriously. They took a grand total of four days to name his successor.

Only time will tell whether Mr Moyes will be up to the job, but still, four days is pretty impressive.

The original - Is it still the best?

The original – Is it still the best?

Believe it or not, Peugeot‘s mighty 205 GTi was killed off almost two decades ago and so far, regardless of how hard they try, a replacement worthy of being uttered in the same breath has been conspicuous by its absence. I’m well aware of the various 306s and 106s that have got near, either in XSi or Rallye guise but nothing has dragged Peugeot back into the limelight in the same way that the superb 205 GTi did all those years ago. Trust me – I owned one. (1.9, in case you were wondering)

The 208 GTi - can it retake the hot-hatch crown?

The 208 GTi – can it retake the hot-hatch crown?

What we have here then is the latest attempt from Peugeot to reclaim its place on the hot-hatch throne – the 208 GTi. Can it possibly be the car to live up to its lofty bloodline?

Initial impressions are good – on paper.The 208 GTi trumps the much-lauded Fiesta ST in the race to 62 mph, and although it may lose out by a smidgen in that department to the Renaultsport Clio, it’s more economical, undoubtedly prettier and has a ‘proper’ 6 speed gearbox – not the much maligned ‘flappy paddle’ effort as found in its Gallic cousin.

So, that’s the competition sorted out – on paper anyway, let’s get back to taking the 208 GTi on its own merits though.

Peugeot 208 GTi rearFrom the moment the first press shots of the standard 208 were released, I found the whole thing, well, a bit ‘busy’ if you know what I mean? That’s not to say that it’s ugly by any means – the jutting jaw and toothy grin may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s a welcome relief from the recent ‘wide mouth frogs’ that Peugeot seemed to have developed a fixation with. The 208’s proportions are near-perfect and it’s got some very pleasing features. I simply felt that the 208’s designers should maybe have known when to stop and adopted the ‘less is more’ theory a little more readily when applying some visual aspects to the car.

Peugeot 208 GTi sideOf course, a GTi is supposed to be an assault on the senses, and that’s why the 208 GTi gets away with it. The only downside to all this is the slight lack of contrast between the GTi and its lesser brethren. I found myself studying passing 208s, checking whether they were also GTis and this just won’t do. If you’ve worked hard and want your supermini to be the most superest (!?!), it’s got to stand out, not only in a crowd but in a family photo too.

GTi's gear-knob is particularily satisfying!

GTi’s gear-knob is particularily satisfying!

It’s a completely different story in the GTi’s cabin, with many highlights and features that constantly remind its inhabitants just what statement this car is intent on making. Ignoring the 208’s multitude of red flashes that adorn just about every surface at some point (in homage to the 205), there are other, possibly more significant features that transform this car’s living space from everyday hatch into B road king. Not least of which is surely the slightly unusual driving position.

The 208 GTi’s grippy sports seats are mounted 8mm lower than the standard car to give a more ‘sit in’ rather than ‘sit on’ sensation. Once in the driver’s seat though, things can initially feel  rather alien due the combination of a semi-race- car, small diameter steering wheel and the fact that one’s view of the dash dials is achieved by looking over it, rather than through it. There has been much already written that this position is distracting and the steering wheel can end up in the driver’s lap – I’d say that this is purely due to driver error, as after two minutes’ instruction from a trained Peugeot representative on how to match seating and steering wheel position, the whole effect was conducive to a spirited, almost rally-driver effect, whilst all dials were clearly in view.

One of the many homages to the 205

One of the many homages to the 205

On the road, the GTi feels instantly alive, as it should with 200bhp on tap from it’s 1.6 litre engine. This unit may be the same one as found in Mini’s Cooper S but it’s important to remember that it is a Peugeot product, not a BMW one so fettling it to the 208’s needs shouldn’t be a problem. 0-62 mph is taken care of in less than seven seconds, with the driver feeling an integral part of achieving this speed as they grip the wheel, correcting the inevitable torque-steer from the front-driven wheels. The GTi – only exhaust outlets may look the part but one of my major criticisms of the 208 is the lack of drama and noise. I’ve recently driven Peugeot’s excellent RCZ, equipped with exactly the same engine and the aural sensation was worlds apart. Definitely an area to improve upon to achieve true GTi greatness.

The most often admired quality of the 205 GTi was the way it negotiated corners in a go-kart like fashion. It’s modern-day equivalent has extra weight and power which usually hinder satisfying handling but it’s certainly no slouch on the twisty stuff. There are obviously a whole host of electronic aides to assist in hedge-avoidance but the trick for manufacturers is to keep them operating in the background without being intrusive and I’d say the 208 does an admirable job of achieving this. By utilising variable-electric power steering, the feather-light feel around town recedes at higher speeds and weights-up nicely, although I did find myself yearning for a touch more feedback around the tighter corners.

Any front-driven car is asking a lot of its multi-tasking front wheels, even more so when power is increased as they attempt to direct whilst also providing drive. Introduce an uneven surface for the suspension to deal with and this is where the 208 GTi can come slightly unstuck. I found that the, once train-like handling characteristics developed an unnerving, skittish feel over  typically unkempt British Tarmac, which could undoubtedly lessen confidence as our roads aren’t likely to be completely fixed anytime soon, if ever.

Peugeot 208 GTi headlightIn reality, it’s nigh-on impossible for anyone to recreate the hot-hatches of the ’80s and ’90s due to the added complications of safety and emission constraints. It’s therefore a fairly fruitless task to constantly compare Peugeot’s GTi products to the 205. Peugeot are obviously proud of their heritage though, and are keen to utilise it in their marketing of the 208 so I’ll go along with it. No, it just doesn’t feel alive as the original, no car ever will. However, the 208 GTi is undoubtedly faster, more comfortable, built to a higher standard and, perhaps most importantly, safer than the 205 so I think we should lay that old ghost to rest and look forward.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Peugeot 208 GTi 1.6 THP 200, Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engineFWD, Power – 200bhp, Torque – 275Nm, Emissions – 139g/km CO2, Economy – 48 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 143mph, Acceleration – 6.8s 0-62mph, Price – £18,895 OTR, £20,070 as tested.

News

The all new Peugeot 208

Peugeot have released details and, perhaps more importantly pictures of the upcoming replacement for the 207, the imaginatively titled 208 (One wonders what they’re going to call the replacement for the 209?) I was lucky enough to own a particularly good 205 Gti when I was 18 so this story caught my eye immediately, especially when the Peugeot press office took the bull by the horns and pre-empted that burning question- will they build a Gti that’s fit to wear the badge? They’ve cut kerb weight dramatically in a bid to capture the essence of the 205’s driving ability and have already released details of the all important Gti which will come in two guises, the really hot version being powered by a turbo charged, four cylinder engine producing 204 bhp.

First impressions visually are promising with front overhang reduced dramatically, not only giving the car a more sleek profile overall but also improving handling as Peugeot are so keen to stress was their main focus. There are some neat design touches, the shoulder line incorporating the door handles and fuel cap is smart, even more so where it enters the rear light cluster and performs a U-turn to become the rear indicator. I feel that some aspects of the exterior are almost in competition with each other for your attention which can just result in a headache, I’d describe this as a ‘busy’ look. Peugeot should maybe have followed the old mantra that simplicity is best when deciding which little flicks and curves were appropriate and which should maybe have been saved for the next model.

Peugeot 208

One glaring improvement on all recently released Peugeots is the deletion of that ridiculous ‘wide mouth frog’ front end. The 208 may look a little generic overall, sharing styling cues with the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio but I feel it’s just about recognisable in a crowd.

Subaru BRZ

In other news, Subaru have released images of their take on their joint venture withToyotato create a sports –coupe. Named the BRZ (Boxer engine, Rear drive, Zenith), it is quite expectedly similar to Toyota’s upcoming FT-86 with only the rear end being significantly different, I would say more aggressive, more Subaru. This model could really do with being a big hit for Subaru as they’ve announced a profits crash of 27%, blaming, amongst other things, the Japanese earthquake that struck earlier this year.

By Ben Harrington

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