|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
From a glance, the 208 GTi doesn’t strike you as a four-wheeled love machine. Aside from its arrest-me-Rioja Red paintjob, it looks like a three-door hatchback with sporty rims. Dig deeper and you’ll appreciate the extended arches, the side skirts, the prominent rear spoiler, the exquisitely-detailed front grille with the red lettering, and of course, the raft of GTi badges. She’s been flashing her legs to you all along, you just have to stare long enough to notice.
Once she gets your attention, you’d want to step inside. Beware of the doors though, they swing wider than you’d expect. Getting them out of the way, you’re held firmly in place by the red-and-black sport seats. They truly cosset and cradle superbly, a tasty appetizer of what’s to come next. The petite-sized perforated leather tiller, with its flat top and bottom is a joy to caress and hold with a red center stripe indicating steering direction creating that sense of danger. The right hand then falls right into place of the shift knob, by itself seemingly made of a single piece of indented metal. The pedals are also nicely positioned and spaced for excellent footwork. The all-black cabin also has the right amount of chrome work to spice things up. The high-gloss accents, some of which change hue from black to red, are as subjective as lacy lingerie—it’s sexy but cheesy at the same time.
While your taste of what makes for sexy lingerie is subjective, there are some interior bits which are objectively questionable. Actually there’s only two. First up is the dislocated instrument cluster which is located above the steering wheel line. This blocks some of the dials unless you adjust the steering wheel with millimeter precision, and by that time, you’ve already compromised on your natural driving position. Next is the infotainment screen which looks like an afterthought. This one’s largely forgivable if not for being laggy and buggy (it likes saving RJ100 as a favorite radio station six times for instance).
Beneath the 208 GTi’s tight-fitting red dress lies the best secret of all: a potent mechanism powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Shared with the RCZ sports coupe (and even the last-generation MINI Cooper S), the power is uprated to an even 200 horsepower and 275 Nm of torque. With a svelte curb weight of just 1,160 kilograms, the THP200 engine rockets this hot number to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds. Don’t expect her to moan or scream her way to that magical figure though. Instead, she’s hospitable and muted with just a hint of turbo whine to accompany that unrestrained acceleration. The 6-speed manual requires some coercing to make it work because of long, clunky throws. A slight adjust in the way you hold the gear lever is enough to remove most of the indifference, although the tight and easy-to-modulate clutch is simply sublime. It’s a close ratio box built for explosive acceleration. Still, fuel mileage remains impressive: 9.34 km/L in the city and 18.51 km/L on the highway.
She may be down on downright power to some of her rivals, but there’s enough grunt on tap for repeatedly blitzing on long stretches of open road. It’s an addictive and frenzied affair; with fireworks available at the command of your right foot. As great as she is on the straights, she’s even better in tight confines thanks to a chassis that’s willing to bend to your every whim and wish. Revised steering, reinforced sub-frame, fatter struts, sports springs, tauter dampers, beefier anti-roll bars, and bigger brakes all help you control the show. Give the steering wheel a nudge and the 208 GTi immediately follows your command, almost pivoting it through corners with extreme linearity. She also effectively behaves like a go-kart with the rabid urgency of a willing slave tied to a four-post bed. Visibility is unrestrained throughout and thanks to almost no overhangs, makes for a great traffic carver. Parking is easy with front and rear parking sensors, but if you so wish, she can slot and leave parking spaces herself with an automated parking assist. Above all, she’s surprisingly capable of swallowing most road disturbances and is only truly upset by larger obstacles.
As great as the 208 GTi is, she’ll begin to show her limited repertoire at higher speeds or at more extreme levels of handling. Betrayed by her non-independent rear suspension and small wheelbase, she’ll turn into fast corners with a touch more lean than you’ll come to expect when you first entered. She’ll lift a rear wheel and show her naughty bits if you’d like, but it’s easy to correct except when you’re gunning the gas mid-corner. In that case, she’ll snap into torque steer. Again, it’s easy to nibble your way through it before the ESP kicks in, but this is probably something you wouldn’t want to do in the wet.
Priced at P 1,950,000, the Peugeot 208 GTi isn’t exactly a beaming icon of affordable performance. In this price range alone, you can get a Toyota 86, a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, a Honda CRZ, or even a Subaru WRX. However, there’s just something addicting about this French number that none of those other cars could match. It shouldn’t make any sense since any of those other cars can out pace and out corner the 208 GTi. Subjectively though, the Peugeot tops them for being a pure, unadulterated love machine. It’s fun on everyday roads. It begs you to race everything and squeeze and dart through traffic even when you’re not in a hurry. It’s vulgar, indecent, and just plain wrong. And because of that, you’ll just love it more and more.
2015 Peugeot 208 GTi
|Ownership||2015 Peugeot 208 GTi THP 200|
|Body Type||3-door hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||200 @ 5,800-6,800|
|Nm @ rpm||275 @ 1,700-4,500 rpm|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,160|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Trailing Arm with Cross-Member|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Michelin Pilot Exalto 205/45R17V (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|