Andre De Kock
Motorsport Editor
2 minute read
25 Sep 2013
12:00 am

Peugeot’s classy little cage fighter

Andre De Kock

The local market for junior hot hatches is fearsomely competitive.

At least three manufacturers used to offer cars for enthusiasts who can not afford the Ford Focus ST, the Golf GTI or the Renault Megane RS Cup. A fourth lightweight contender has recently joined the junior cage fight. And, after driving it for a week, we reckon the Peugeot 208 GTI packs both the muscle and the nimble footwork to make it a winner.

Seen from the outside the car sports subtle indications of its butt-kick aspirations with large wheels, red brake calipers, red GTI lettering on the rear door pillar and an extended rear roof spoiler the only hints that this could be a MINI eater. Which it could be.

Under the bonnet resides a turbocharged four cylinder, 1 598cc, four valves per cylinder engine with direct injection hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine develops 147 kW of power at 5 800 rpm plus 275 Nm of torque at 1 700 rpm.

It endows the Peugeot with a 0 to 100 km/h time of 7,31 seconds, a top speed of just over 220 km/h and a quarter mile time of 15,42 seconds. The car sits on 17-inch alloy rims in Michelin Pilot Sport Exalto 205/45 rubberware, and has vented disc brakes front plus solid discs rear.

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The interior, predominantly in black and red would not appeal to all, but we liked it. Standard specification includes remote control locking, dual-zone climate control, electrically operated windows and exterior mirrors, auto-activated headlights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, speed limiter, and parking sensors both front and rear.

There is also a full-colour touch screen display, which serves as the key interface for the car’s infotainment system. It will display trip computer data, information about the entertainment options, or a moving map display of the integrated satellite navigation system.

Driving the 308 GTI feels just right. It is happy to dawdle along in traffic which, in Johannesburg, one does most of the time.

But, when given its head, it pulls very satisfactory in all six gears.

Hard cornering is handled with confidence – the car stays flat and runs on rails with slight understeer the result of racing type corner entry.

The brakes are solid and inspire confidence, while top speed runs see the vehicle sitting straight and composed on the illegal side of 200 km/h.

We made no efforts whatsoever to drive the Peugeot economically and reckon that an overall pertol usage figure of 7,6 litres per 100 kilometres should be regarded as impressive.

The Peugeot 208 GTI sells at R259 900 and comes with a three-year/100 000 km roadside assistance package.