The current 208 GTi, although never road tested, was not lacking in gusto – a good thing when you consider the marginal nature of the power increase enacted here.
Nevertheless, Peugeot claims a respectable 0.3sec reduction in 0-62mph time, and, two up, we corroborated it at Millbrook. The previous car’s problem was in the hooves rather than the horses, so it seems fair to credit the revised suspension geometry, new limited-slip differential and stickier tyres with the slightly better level of traction required to enable the 30th to cover the 0-60mph sprint in 6.5sec.
That puts it in very good stead compared with the competition, making it almost a full second quicker than the spiritless Clio 200 and half a second up on the Fiesta ST. However, it’s worth mentioning that the Fiesta ST, powered by Ford’s similar-sized Ecoboost engine, remains the more characterful and responsive unit from low revs.
Peugeot’s own turbocharged four-cylinder motor, although as thrusting as ever from shorter gear ratios, still suffers from a brief contemplative moment of lag that just isn’t as noticeable in the ST. It isn’t irksome enough to be a serious demerit, but it does make the 30th’s undoubted liveliness harder to get at than it might otherwise have been.
Once on stream, the engine’s willingness to rev is undeniably contagious, especially given the enthusiasm with which it careens into its 6500rpm limiter. It isn’t a particularly stirring experience, though, the classic hard-edged four-pot thrash being a strain on the ears compared with the bass-noted melody of the Fiesta’s symposer system.
Throw it all together – the peaky din, the throttle delay, the long-throw gearshift – and the 208’s performance can seem a little disjointed compared with better-rounded rivals. Nevertheless, the 208’s brio – that scurrying exuberance which makes a supermini seem convincingly hot – is never in question.