In darkest Essex, the hot hatchback has a not so great reputation, although I must say that I have noticed over the past few years that the trend for painfully lowered hatches cruising the streets on almost solid springs seems to be in the decline.
Then an innocent stroll to the local shop on Sunday revealed a very handsome and subtly striking 2-tone, 3-door Peugeot 208 parked in the car park; further investigation revealed this to be the Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport – the motorsport division for the French manufacturer.
You’ve got to have some front to drive a car with one half painted red and the other painted black, but that shouldn’t worry Peugeot, who are quite clearly aiming for a niche market here. I must say though, I like the look – it works, in part thanks to some very carefully chosen colours. Of course, if you haven’t quite got the front to carry this off, there are more conservative paint choices available, like Satin White, Nera Black, Ice Silver and Rioja Red.
The reason the colour-way works is due to the thought that has gone into echoing the chosen colours elsewhere. The radiator grill surround has a matte black upper strip while the lower is in red. Further subtle red pin striping can be found inside the car to offset all the matt and shiny black, along with some subtle chrome touches.
The GTi is of course lowered, and the tried and trusted trick of adding side skirts (in black) enhance this low down ground hugging look. The splash of chrome at the rear on the twin exhaust tail pipes is a nice touch too.
The GTi powerhouse is a Peugeot 1.6 THP (Turbo High Pressure) engine meeting Euro 6 emission standards and connected to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Torsen limited slip differential handles those moments when you need more grip and stability – and you probably will. CO2 is a decent 125g/km, which should make its competitors sit up and take notice. Combined fuel figures tell us that a steady motorway cruise will see you get around 52.3mpg. So, all in all, there are certainly more expensive hot cars to own that the Peugeot GTi.
All of this will get the 208 GTi from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 143mph, while the usual Peugeot Sport Brembo 4 piston callipers handle braking – colour coded a striking red to show through the jet black, wider tracked 18 inch alloys.
While on paper, I would never see myself as a hot hatch loving kind of person, I have always sneakily liked the idea of a practical car (it has a decent sized boot too) that will ease you away from the traffic lights without running out of gears. Besides, is it really that different to owning a lowered Cal Look Beetle?
You can pick up the Peugeot 208 GTi Sport for around £22,000.