The all-new Peugeot 208 – which the French manufacturer hopes will resurrect its hot-hatch pedigree – has been spied testing ahead of the car’s official unveiling next month.
The supermini, which is codenamed A9, will replace the commercially successful 207 in Peugeot’s range when it goes on sale in the middle of next year.
It is hoped that a range-topping 208 GTI, which will offer 197bhp from a 1.6 turbo engine, will mark a return to traditional performance hatch values for Peugeot.
These test shots of the three-door version largely disguise the styling of the machine, which will borrow design cues from both the 508 saloon and several of the firm’s recent concepts, such as the SR1 roadster and the high-riding HR1 crossover vehicle.
The new car will ditch its predecessor’s oversize nose and grille in favour of the SR1’s sleeker, more elegant look. The spy shots reveal a car with a lower nose and more elegant proportions, despite the disguise.
Peugeot insiders say the 208’s smaller exterior dimensions will not impact on interior space, and it could even grow in size inside. Up to 100kg could be shed compared with the current heavyweight 207. This is part of Peugeot’s policy of shedding weight from each new-generation model.
The interior will also be greatly improved, with the focus on simple style and high-quality materials.
Engine development has centred on downsized turbocharged powerplants, with the star being a near-200bhp 1.6 unit powering a GTI model that Peugeot hopes will reclaim iconic status for the badge. The petrol engine for this hottest version is the THP powerplant from the RCZ and features variable valve lift, a twin-scroll turbo and variable cam timing.
The GTI will be primarily aimed at the British and German markets, although it will also be available in France. A warmer — and cheaper to insure — GT version is also planned to appeal to younger drivers.
Other power options will include an all-new three-cylinder engine, and a number of fuel-efficient diesels, while a stop-start system is expected to feature on all variants across the range.
As well as the three and five-door hatchbacks, the 208 is expected to eventually be offered as a hard-top convertible and an SUV-inspired crossover.