The components that make the Anniversary GTi quicker and – hopefully – more fun to drive are a 10mm lower ride height, a standard set of 18-inch alloys with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, a circuit-friendly set of suspension mods and an engine tuned both for tighter Euro 6 pollution regulations and to yield an extra 18lb ft and 8bhp.
Inside, a new and more supportive set of Peugeot Sport bucket seats hold the driver firmly in place. Underneath, a bigger set of Brembo brakes are standard, while the dampers are rerated, the spring rates are hiked by 30 per cent in front and 80 per cent behind, and the handling balance is shifted away from understeer by a slightly softer front anti-roll bar and a stiffer one at the back. To boost traction, the car gets a Torsen mechanical limited-slip diff, and the stability electronics have been tuned to allow a little more slip before intervening, to add spice to the handling.
On a greasy circuit in France, we found the 30th Anniversary considerably quicker and more stable at speed than the standard 208 GTi, which itself sets a pretty good standard. The stiffer suspension delivers extra stability and cuts body roll to a minimum, and the Torsen diff efficiently prevents the inside wheel from spinning power away in corners.
There's less understeer (you can now occasionally get the tail to step out modestly), but the whole thing is kept safe by the ESP – unless you deactivate it, whereupon you discover that the car retains great natural stability. The small steering wheel and a quick rack make the car quick to manoeuvre, too.
We had no chance to try the car in the dry, but there's no doubt the Anniversary would be a fast and entertaining all-weather mount for track days, as the 0-62mph sprint time of 6.5sec shows. Still, a Ford Fiesta ST with the addition of the £650 Mountune performance pack has even more bite, even though you don't get larger brakes or a fancy differential for that money.
On the road, the 208 GTi 30th is more than just tolerable; it works really well. It feels firm, of course, but remains flat and composed, without the jitters over bitumen ripples you might expect.
There is some noticeable torque steer during big power applications on high-crown roads, but the car mainly tracks straight. As is the case with the standard 208 GTi, the long-throw gearchange seems rather an anomaly, but it is always accurate enough and easy to use. The brakes feel immensely capable, and the new seats feel great.