Peugeot has started to prepare for its imminent return to the hot hatch arena with this 208 GTi Concept, - the star of the marque's Geneva motor show stand and will preview a forthcoming production version of the GTi.
The 208 GTi Concept is proof that, as predicted by Autocar last October, Peugeot is serious about augmenting its hatchback range with a range-topping performance model that harks back to the classic 205 GTi from the 1980s.
Based on the three-door version of Peugeot’s new hatchback, the 208 GTi Concept is powered by the four-cylinder, 1.6-litre twin-cam turbocharged engine from the RCZ THP 200, which is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
In Peugeot’s coupé, the unit produces 197bhp and 203lb ft and, although the manufacturer hasn’t released any official performance figures for the 208 GTi Concept, a sub-7.0sec 0-60mph time and top speed of 140mph can be expected.
By comparison, the most powerful variant in the UK range of the standard 208 is equipped with a 156bhp, 192lb ft version of the 1.6-litre THP petrol engine.
The 208 GTi Concept – which will take on rivals such as the Ford Fiesta ST, Citroën DS3 and new-for-2012 Renaultsport Clio – has a 36mm wider track at the front and rear compared to the standard 208, putting the front at 1506mm and the rear at 1503mm.
It rides on 18in wheels and five-spoke alloy wheels, and has a rear roof spoiler that provides some aerodynamic benefit. Other cosmetic tweaks include double-chromed exhaust tailpipes that emerge from the right-hand side of the car, lower bodywork spoilers and lower sill skirt extensions. The concept also has uprated brakes, with 302mm diameter discs at the front, 249mm at the rear and red-painted brake calipers.
In a salute to the classic Peugeot 205 GTi – the concept’s spiritual antecedent – a GTi Concept logo is situated in the rear quarter panel, as well as on the front grille.
The Peugeot features chequered flag motifs on the metal mesh of the grille, while the lower grille bar displays either the French ‘Tricolour’ flag or the Union Jack, an indication of two of the most important car markets that the production 208 GTi will be aimed at.
The 208 GTi Concept features a driver-focused interior, with a small, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, a part-leather gear lever, aluminium pedals and Nappa leather-trimmed sports seats. The instrument panel features dials with a brushed aluminium background and LED backlighting. Like the standard 208, most of the GTi Concept’s major functions – including internet connectivity – are grouped on a touchscreen in the centre of the console.
Sales of the mainstream 208 range will begin in the UK in June. Peugeot hasn’t yet officially confirmed a production version of the 208 GTi Concept, but the car is expected to be formally rubber-stamped by company chiefs and go on sale before the end of 2012.