For as long as they’ve existed, hot hatches have stood as heroes for many blue collar driving purists worldwide. While they weren’t giant killers per se, the formula of being small, somewhat affordable yet fun and usable for the daily made them winners.
One such example is the feisty little French number that is the Peugeot 208 GTi. The last three letters in its name says it all – this is a car built for those who seek the path towards driving nirvana. On paper at least, it all looks legit.
In its recent face-lifted form as featured, the 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant has been upgraded with 208hp and 300Nm – a slight bump up from the pre-facelift’s 200hp and 275Nm.
What remains though is the six-speed, close-ratio manual transmission that’s tasked at sending both outputs to the front wheels. For those who take pride on the fact that ‘real drivers drive with a stick and three pedals’, this is indeed a treat.
Yes, it doesn’t sound much, but you have to remember that the 208 GTi tips the scale at just 1,160kg. Depending how fast – and slick – you shift through the cogs, 0-100kph is possible in just 6.5 seconds while top speed stands at a respectable 230kph.
In truth though, these numbers are the last things on anyone’s mind when in the hot seat, which by the way are both supportive and plush. Instead, the real fun lies in getting your hand- and footwork right towards achieving those figures.
Yes, on the outside, the 208 GTi is very unassuming – most would simply pass it off as a regular 3-door 208 hatch. Apart from the tasty 17-inch alloys and rather subtle GTi badges it adorns, it’s a classic case of ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ here really.
A sense of purpose only kicks in once you get inside and you soak up the cabin’s racy black-red interior. Peugeot’s novel i-Cockpit design does take time to get used to, but it’s a small niggle once you take in account of how intuitive things feel here.
By the way, unlike most of its peers, the 208 GTi is one performance car you can drive daily with ease. There’s enough creature comforts, namely things like a dual-zone automatic climate control, neat infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as cruise control to support that.
Beyond these though, what makes the 208 GTi a daily drivable hot hatch is its taut yet balanced chassis setup. It’s neither too soft nor sharp, with plenty of damping and decent NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) suppression to boot.
while stocks last only, authorised importer and distributor Nasim Sdn Bhd is offering it from as low as RM116,000 onwards
And yet, don’t let the presence of the stick and three pedals put you off either. This isn’t a full-blown race car – far from it. The clutch weight is tolerably light, as is the stick shifter, with the latter boasting decently short, precise throws in the mix too.
Then there’s the steering, which, despite being a typical modern-day electric-assisted unit, felt very progressive. Like the chassis, it’s a good compromise between lightness for the daily grind and decent weight for both accuracy and feedback.
Sweetening the whole affair further are the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres our test unit came fettled with – the icing in this hot hatch’s handling cake if you asked us. Though not cheap to replace, their returns of fun with every mile, especially when shod in something as capable as the 208 GTi, make them worthwhile indeed.
Speaking of price, it’s something that should seal the deal for anyone keen on getting one today. For a limited time and while stocks last only, authorised importer and distributor Nasim Sdn Bhd is offering it from as low as RM116,000 onwards.
Considering it once cost over RM140,000 when new with 6% GST still affect, that’s quite a steal. What’s more is the fact that this is the last of its kind on sale today given that rivals like the VW Polo GTi, Renault Clio RS 200 EDC and Ford Fiesta ST have all been quietly taken off their respective showroom floors.
By the way, there’s even a 5-year or 120,000km warranty package included in said price, which should grant unrivalled peace of mind. To have that on top of everything else we’ve mentioned thus far? You can’t argue that this is quite a deal indeed…
1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol, 208hp, 300Nm, FWD, 6-speed manual
|Economy||5.4 litres/100km, 125g/km|
|Performance||0-100kph in 6.5 secs, 230kph|