The Peugeot 208 GTi is a lower, leaner, gutsier version of the Peugeot 208 supermini - keen to trade on its legendary badge, made famous by the Peugeot 205 GTi, but not particularly beholden to its spirit.
This is a softer and subtler brand of GTi. Peugeot may roll out the memory of the 205 for these occasions, but away from the advertising campaign it readily admits that this is a much more mature model than its landmark scamp - developed to fit the broader requirements of a likely older audience. Peugeot did try to harness some of the 205's brilliance in a limited run of the 208 to mark its 30th anniversary.
Consequently, unlike some demonically tweaked rivals, the 208 is only gently differentiated from its lesser siblings. Whether you like it or not will therefore depend on how much you appreciated the template. But for our money the GTi would need a deeper, far costlier graft than just a new grille to make its less-than-pretty nose genuinely appealing. Peugeot has attempted to remedy this by offering a 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport, which gets a lower, wider presence than the standard car, plus the benefit of upgraded springs, dampers and wheel alignment, and a Torsten differential as found on the RCZ R.
Nevertheless its tidy profile is picked out well enough by a skinny set of arches, side skirts, and a prominent rear spoiler. Add to that a questionable splatter of chrome-effect body trim and a raft of badges, and the 208 makes it to familiar hot hatch styling territory.
Beneath it all, swaddled in a rearranged set of ancillaries and close-fitting bodywork is the now customary four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine now running at 205bhp after Peugoet turned up the wick from the original 197bhp the unit used to produce. Around that Peugeot has installed the usual hot hatch accouterments: a reinforced front subframe compliments fatter struts, sports springs, tauter dampers and beefier anti-roll bars, while bigger brakes and revised steering settings help better control the show.
As well as adding, the GTi benefits from Peugeot’s earlier decision to subtract: the car is 165kg lighter than the lardy 207 GTi at 1160kg. Not featherlight then, but an improvement - especially considering that (again, in keeping with its acknowledged target audience) it’s decently equipped too. Like the Ford Fiesta ST range, there are three trim levels to choose from each offering a smattering more equipment.
The standard GTi comes with 17in alloys, chrome dual exhaust system and rear parking sensors on top of the standard GT-Line-trimmed car, while opting for the GTi Prestige adds sat nav, heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof to the package. The Peugeot Sport tweaked GTi gains all the additions highlighted earlier plus 18in alloy wheels, round twin exhaust system and an Alcantara upholstery.