One year ago, Peugeot launched the 208 GTi. It was, let’s be honest, better than average, but nothing you’d shout too loudly about on Instagram - the brakes were spongy, turn-in and handling was a bit soft and it looked girly. The 208 GTi’s biggest problem, however, was the Fiesta ST, a car that not only bettered its rivals, it annihilated them. The ST was, and still is, a car you’d be proud to #instacar #carswithoutlimits from the roof tops…
Now, Peugeot’s back with a new 208 GTi. Dubbed the 30th Anniversary (to mark 30 years since the 205 GTi tripodded its way into every petrolhead’s heart), the new special edition GTi is wider, lower and more powerful than the standard car. Here are five things that you’ll love about it:
The 30th Anniversary 208 GTi has done a pretty good job of shaking its girly image. That’s because it sits lower to the ground (by 10mm) and because it has a wider track (20mm at the front and 16mm at the back). The 18-inch wheels are new and come wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tyres. You’ll also spot a new colour contrasting grille surround, wheel arch extensions and red brake calipers.
You might have noticed the two-tone colour scheme (this is paint, not a wrap), which takes a while to warm to, but when you see it for the first time, you’ll struggle to muzzle your inner child’s excited voice.
On the inside, things look good too. There’s a lovely set of Peugeot Sport bucket seats with Alcantara trim, which are sexy as hell and supportive, and you get a nice 208 GTi 30th plaque which is a nice touch.
The 30th doesn’t only look like it’ll go faster, it actually does. The 1.6-litre THP unit you’ll find here produces 205bhp and 221lb ft torque. These figures are a useful increase of 8bhp and 18lb ft compared with the standard GTi.
Thanks to the special edition’s double helping of pre-workout, it’ll now hit 62mph from standing 0.2sec faster in 6.5 seconds. Top speed remains the same at 143mph, but it’s the faster throttle response and added grunt out of corners that you’ll love most about this car.
Together with the lower ride height, wider track and bigger wheels, the 30th Anniversary is fitted with a proper mechanical Torsen diff (as used in the 267bhp RCZ R). The spring rates are also beefed up; they’re 30 per cent stiffer up front and a massive 80 per cent stiffer on the rear corners. These changes make a massive difference to the way in which the GTi handles a track thrashing, the setting for this launch just outside Paris.
Driven back-to-back with the normal GTi, the 30th turns in more sharply, punches itself out of every corner more keenly, and grips harder. Body roll is also reduced, as is understeer, while the bigger 323mm brakes and Brembo four-piston calipers scrub off 80mph+ speeds far more quickly, despite the track surface being more slippery than a massage. Another thing I noticed about the 30th is that the warning systems - a frenzy of irritating flashing hazard lights - don’t kick in as quickly under heavy braking as they do in the plain chocolate GTi.
Push this car hard with the driver aids switched off and you’ll be rewarded with massive oversteer, and not only the kind you’d experience from lifting off the throttle mid-corner. Even with the pedal buried, the front-end’s sharp turn-in and grip, coupled with the rear’s stiff suspension lends itself well to drifting. If ever there were a hot hatch that thought it was RWD, this is it, especially at the hands of pro racing driver Grégory Guilvert, as you’ll see in the video.
Every one of us who drove the car on track came away with the same conclusion; the 30th Anniversary is better than the standard GTi in every way, and is now a serious contender to the seemingly infallible Fiesta ST.
The 30th will also grow in kudos as time passes because it’s a limited special edition model. Only 800 of these will be made (100 of which are coming to the UK) at a price of £21,995. If you’re keen on a 30th, then act quickly; deposits on most of these cars have already been put down by buyers.
Overall, the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary is more precise, faster and leaner, and more trusting of its driver. It looks better, loves to go sideways (as you’ll see in the video below) and will get you noticed. Peugeot, you’ve done the old 205 GTi proud!