Car Reviews

2016 Peugeot 208 GTi review

Robert Pepper’s 2016 Peugeot 208 GTi review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: The latest Peugeot GTi is not the unleashed monster of old, now offering a more refined sporting experience – more subtle than sharp, and still with daily-drive practicality.

2016 Peugeot 208 GTI

PRICE :  $30,990 (+ORC) WARRANTY : 3 years / 100,000 km SAFETY : 5 star (34.03 / 37, non-gti 2012-PRESENT tested EURO NCAP, gti should be similar) ENGINE : 1.6L turbo 4-CYLINDER petrol POWER : 153kW @ 6000 rpm TORQUE : 300Nm at 3000 rpm 0-100km/h : 6.5 seconds top speed : 230km/h TRANSMISSION : 6-speed Manual DRIVE :  Front-wheel drive BODY :  3973 mm (L);  1739 mm (W);  1460 mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE :  10.6 m WEIGHT :  1160 kg SEATS :TOWING : 930kg braked FUEL TANK : 50 litres SPARE :  FULL-SIZE ALLOY THIRST : 5.4 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL : 95RON

Editor's Rating

How we rated the Peugeot 208 GTi 97%
Practical Motoring Says: The 208 GTi is a brilliant vehicle on many levels; style, practicality, ground-covering ability and understated fun. That it manages to succeed so well across such diverse criteria makes it a winner even before you consider the pricetag.
97

Design

The 208 GTi is the latest in a long, proud line of Peugeot hot hatches and for many of us who remember the original 205 GTi the expectations are high, very high. 
 
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From the outside at distance the GTi looks understatedly sporty but only to a discerning eye.  As you get nearer you notice there’s lots of GTi badges (and even more inside) but if you didn’t know what “GTi” on a Peugeot means you wouldn’t look twice.  The car is something of a sleeper, and indeed at a recent Cars and Coffee meeting the 208 attracted the attention of those who knew what they were looking at, not those there to admire showy cars. You decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
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Room & practicality

Bit of a mixed bag. The glovebox lid is normal-sized, but open it up and it’s disappointing to find half the space is used up. This may well be the result of poor engineering with insufficient focus on the potential for right-hand drive. There are two drinks holders, but they’re for espressos not lattes, and definitely not your average-sized drink bottle.

 
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What happened to the glovebox?
 
Those are the negatives. Onto the positives – the centre armrest moves up out of the way, and includes a storage compartment. There’s a driver’s side cubby box, and the door sidepockets are large.
 
 
In the back there’s twin pockets on the back of the front seats. Access to the rear is by an easy-to-find and use lever, so no need for friends to be standing in the rain at night fiddling around with seats. Once in there is an impressive amount of legroom, and even the centre second row seat is usable, with more headroom than some larger sedans. The rear does feel a little enclosed though, but it is comfortable.  There are clothes hangers either side, too.
 
 
The second row folds down in a 40:60 split but not entirely flat, but that’s better than a single-fold or just a luggage hatch. 
 
Overall, the 208 doesn’t have the room or practicality of a small hatch like the i30 or Jazz, but for many owners it will be more than enough. You can certainly live with it day to day, transport four adults in reasonable comfort, and five if pushed.
 

On the inside

The interior of the 208 GTi is a delight. It’s all nicely swooping curves, matched colours and high quality, an interior that pleases the eye. The controls are odd if you’re coming from a Japanese background, but easy to get used to. The infotainment unit is very good, quick to respond, clear, includes sat-nav and has useful functions. The steering wheel has a GTi badge, because there aren’t enough on the car already, and has the pointless flat-bottom and centre mark. 

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On the negative side the heat/cool controls are pointlessly fiddly, as is the cruise control. The instrument panel is further away from the steering wheel than is the norm, and as a result is sensitive to being obscured by the wheel. I did not find this a problem; others commented on it. There’s three little buttons on the panel which are too far away to be easy to reach. 

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At least you can change the colour of the instrument surrounds, because that’s important…

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Here are some views of the infotainment unit:

Performance, ride and handling

Around town:

You can drive the 208 GTi just as you would any normal hatch. It’s nimble, visibility is good (to the front, anyway), you don’t sit particularly low and the turning circle is tight. The gearchange is a delight, smooth and easy – if all manuals were this good less automatics would be sold. The engine is tractable, and will happily lope along in 5th at 50km/h and 6th at 60km/h, so you can skip shift. Clearance is reasonable so you don’t need to sweat at the sight of a speed-hump. The 208 is a great little around-town car, and fun with it. The exhaust note is richer and more burbly than a normal hatch, but subtly so and in proportion, it’s not a wolf’s howl from a small dog. You never hurt for grip, and the brakes are superb.

 
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If you have a bad day at work, this sight should brighten your day.

On the open road: 

Some cars are rorty beasts that need fighting, taming and the enjoyment comes from merely making it around the corner in one piece – Peugeot’s early GTis fell (or rather leapt) into this category. But in 2015, such hooliganism is dialled out of cars, because the world isn’t like that any more. You don’t get wild lift-off oversteer, power delivery arriving like a boxer’s punch, or erratic swings between oversteer and understeer.
 
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So today’s Peugeot GTi is easy to drive, and easy to drive fast. Lots of grip, a willing engine, great brakes and forgiving handling. There’s very little understeer or oversteer, it’s stable and quick, in fact very, very quick. The suspension is superb too, managing to deliver a smooth ride yet minimise body roll and deliver more than adequate handling.  Mid-corner bumps, even major ones, simply don’t disturb the car, not even when you apply gobs of power. A couple of times I thought it’d become really upset around a third-gear corrugated corner… but no.  Barely moved off line. The seats are just supportive enough (wouldn’t mind a touch more), and the controls all fall very easily to hand. 
 
The smallish steering wheel feels like the quality unit it is, and the few controls on it don’t get in the way.  The driving position in general is done well, but it’s only when you drive cars where mistakes have been made you realise how hard it is to get that right.  One minor point is that large-soled drivers might find insufficient space to the left of the clutch.
 
There is also no torque steer whatsoever, and indeed the 208 GTi is an object lesson in how to deliver 153kW of grunt through the front wheels. The administration of driving the wheels never interferes with the road-driver communication loop which is good as anything else with a similar drivetrain.  You will smile as the tyres chirp when you snatch second, and as you lift off the accelerator at full noise there’s a quiet but distinct pop. All up, the 208 GTi is an impressive ground-covering machine.
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But it’s not perfect. You lift off mid-corner and the nose sort of, kind of tucks in, rather robbing you of the fun of large and instant mid-corner adjustments via throttle. The engine response to throttle isn’t quite sharp enough for my liking, just a bit too doughy so the car feels slower than it is, and I’d prefer more of a climax when reaching redline (max power is only 6000rpm, good for driveability but not for sports).  There’s no sport mode to sharpen it up either. Yes, the days of insane sportscars are behind us, but I do feel Peugeot could have left just a fraction more crazy in their GTi, especially in this age of electronic modes for different driving styles. I also wonder if there is too much grip… but that’s very much a personal preference.
 
So the GTi is fast, but fast does not necessarily equal fun, if there’s no effort there’s no reward to get it right. But the 208 GTi is about finesse and delicacy, and if you are the sort of driver who wants to work hard, there’s fun to be had.  
 
You can’t adjust your line overmuch via throttle… so you’d best get it right before you enter.  The engine does its best work high but not too high in the rev range, so keep it there.  The inside wheel will readily lift when braking hard into corners, not that you can feel it, but it’s nice to know it’s there, and the pedals work well enough for heel’n’toe shifting. The stability control is only two-position, but it’s very forgiving even when swtiched on, allowing a four-wheel drift without complaint. In fact, all you’ll see of the electronics is a little flickering as the brake traction control helps deliver power to the ground, if you feel it you’ve got it horribly wrong.  And while the front-drive system is superb – a rolling reason not to buy a rear drive – there is work the driver must do to help it smoothly maximise traction. 
 
In all these matters the driver must work with the car for best effect,  and therein lies the driver’s appeal of the 208 GTi.  It’s not a razor sharp weapon that will scare your breath away, but it will reward effort in its own, understated way.
 
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Interesting rear suspension – torsion beam and coils. The torsion bar is a bar that runs from axle to axle, so the effect of one wheel moving has an effect on the other.  The coils on the other hand mean the rear wheels can move independently of each other. This allows the 208 to have twin-rate springs; soft coils for normal driving, but when you want to get serious you need to combat understeer which is where lifting the inside wheel rear wheel can help, and the torsion bar helps there.

Long distance cruising

This is not always the forte of sportscars, but the GTi does cruising well. It’s not sharp or darty, wind noise is not the best but it is acceptable, and in general you could easily amble interstate. Top marks to Peuegot for including a full-size alloy spare so you can venture out to rural roads with peace of mind, and the car uses 95RON fuel not 98, giving you a greater choice of remote servos. Only the fuel tank is a little small at 50L, because you aren’t going to get close to the 5.4L/100km combined consumption figure.

Nevertheless, the 208 GTi would work well as little sports tourer. I even gave it a short try on a dirt road and the car proved to be up to the mark, with the suspension doing a great job of dismissing the bumps.  It’s no WRX on the brown stuff, but it’s no delicate petal either. The GTi has an air of solidity and robustness, not something that can be said for all sportscars.

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This is the domain of the 208 GTi. Rural roads, even broken ones…the car handles it all.

Safety

The usual 5-star ANCAP safety rating, but beyond that nothing, no active safety like AEB.  There are ISOFIX child restraint points, and you do get reversing sensors which display very clearly like this:

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A reversing camera is $300.  There’s no lockout to prevent starting the vehicle with the clutch up. But there is this:
 
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Full size spare. Excellent!

Pricing & Equipment

Not much to say here, as there’s just one spec, the GTi, only available as a three-door.  No automatic option either, and nor should there be!

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Beware the usual Paint Price Trap. The GTi is available in white, red, black, orange and silver. The sticker price gets you a white car.  Each of the other colours adds $990, or $1050 for the orange. Perhaps that’s why our test car is white. There’s no choice of interior trim. About the only option is a $300 reversing camera which is good value.

The GTi is the range topper, and below it is GT Line, which is obviously not sporty enough to merit the “GTi” badge, but nevertheless Peugeot say: “Appearing for the first time in the Australian 208 line-up is the sports-oriented GT-Line and, at a lowly $27,490 RRP it is sure to be a favorite for drivers wanting the look and feel of Peugeot’s iconic GTi, but without the high-performance drivetrain”.

Well,  the GT Line has a 81kW and 205Nm engine vs the GTi’s 153 / 300, and it’s only a 6-speed automatic.  Acceleration for the GT Line from 0-100 is in excess of ten seconds which for something with “GT” on the badge is quite frankly an embarrassment these days.  Peugeot ask $27,490 plus onroads for the GT Line, so there is no question the extra $2500 for the GTi is utterly, utterly worth it.

We have covered the rest of the 208 range here.

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Second opinion

Juliette Remfrey spent some time with the 208 GTi so here are her thoughts:

The 2016 208 GTi wasn’t a car that immediately caught my attention, but therein lies some of the appeal. The more time spent with the car, the more I began to warm to it.

The exterior GTi touches are subtle and the styling cute and soft, rather than being splattered with look-at-me faux performance add-ons. It’s a hot hatch that’s more about go than show. The interior finish is excellent and the complimentary colour schemes all tie in nicely together. Supportive comfortable seats, nice trimming and a small flat-bottomed steering wheel that fits perfectly in the hands.

There are however a few annoying quirks – the biggest and most annoying for me was the placement of the instrument cluster in relation to the steering wheel, with half of the cluster dials blocked by the steering wheel. With enough fiddling, or if you are sufficiently long in the torso one might be able to comfortably read all of the dials, but I couldn’t without a stretch to try to look over the steering wheel yet still have the steering wheel set at a height where my legs would fit underneath.

It’s a nice instrument cluster if you can read it, but I don’t believe I’m alone in scratching my head at the awful placement of it. There’s not enough in the way of in-cabin storage – minimal drinks holders, a tiny half-glovebox.  There’s a bit of wind noise at freeway speeds but not enough to be annoying.

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I’ll leave the quirks alone now, because the positives far outweigh the negatives. The ride is comfortable and compliant. You will occasionally get the odd thud from the rear suspension over sufficiently poor stretches of road, but the car doesn’t become unsettled. The handling is superb. This car is a fun front-wheel drive equally at home in the stop-start daily commute as it is taking your favourite twisty backroads home.

The tyres offer excellent levels of grip, body roll is kept to a minimum and the car inspires confidence far beyond what you believe it is capable of. Throw it into a corner at speed expecting understeer and it keeps it all in check with no intrusive application of the safety systems. Take off with your foot planted, there will be some wheel spin and a cheeky chirp into second gear but there isn’t the slightest hint of torque steer.

The motor delivers power and torque quickly, but without the sensation of working to achieve it. It’s certainly not a revvy motor, which for some will be a love it or hate it affair. I prefer a slightly revvier, more responsive motor and the GTi is competent, if a little bit lazy with the revs. The exhaust has some tone to it, but it’s quiet and there’s no drone in the cabin. An aftermarket exhaust could bring out a bit more of the sound that’s being contained.

The 2016 208 GTi is a car that I warmed to. More comfortable, practical and liveable as a daily driver than my 2013 BRZ. The looks don’t offend and aren’t boring, just on the cuter side rather than the racier side. That’s part of the appeal, a great handling punchy little front-driver in casual clothes.

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Renee
Renee
4 years ago

Thanks to both of you. A good review that covers a lot of ground…..though I can’t see anything about the headlights….good?….or not?

Robert Pepper
4 years ago
Reply to  Renee

Hi Renee – we did some night driving and can report the headlights are adequate so do not merit a good or bad mention in the review.

Jean-Claude R. de Shablé
Jean-Claude R. de Shablé
3 years ago

Brilliant review, thank you as you have convinced me to buy one. I bought this Peugeot 208 GTi in Orange Power and I’ll pick it up next week.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper