The swiftest Peugeot 208 yet is a warm hatch rather than a hot one, but it's good fun to drive and augurs well for the GTI to come

What is it?

This 208, which has just joined the rest of the range on UK sale, is the closest thing yet to a properly sporting 208 pending the arrival of the 208 GTI next March (April in the UK).

The Feline is currently the top trim level, but this version with the 154bhp turbo 1.6 has extra visual up-revving and a three-door-only body style. That engine is familiar from other Peugeots and Citroens and is related to the Mini Cooper S's unit.

With power raised to 197bhp it will also appear in the GTI. In the Feline THP 156 it joins 17in wheels with 205/45 tyres, an extended tailgate spoiler, firmed suspension and glowing blue outlines for the instruments (they'll be red in the GTI) to set it apart from lesser Felines. Seats are part-trimmed in leather and there's a huge glass roof panel with a retractable blind.

What's it like?

This lightest Peugeot-Citroën product yet to use the 154bhp turbo motor promises plenty of pace, judging by the factory's headline figures: 134mph and 8.1sec to 62mph. There's a six-speed gearbox to make the most of the power and the 192lb ft of torque, whose shift is massively more precise and pleasing than the springy five-speeder fitted to the equivalent car, with the same engine, in the old 207 range.

So the Feline feels eager and light on its feet, helped by having shed around 100kg compared with that 207. Its almost lag-free torque delivery extends over a very broad speed range, with useful urge right up to the 6800rpm rev limit, and the whole way the 208 moves is smooth and easy. Quiet, too, although enlivened by a little bass sputter from the exhaust on upshifts.

Unlike that 207, whose ride could be stiff and restless, the 208 Feline soaks up small bumps smoothly and quietly and has calm, authoritative damping over big undulations. There was a danger that the tiny steering wheel's necessarily quick response and hefty power assistance could make this fastest 208 feel artificially darty, but in fact it proves to feel the most natural of the 208s we've sampled to date.

It's surprising that it feels as normal as it does, given that the wheel has to be practically in your lap if you're to see the whole instrument display.

Downsides are slightly snatchy brakes and the occasional tug of torque steer, but overall this is a more satisfying 208 than we expected.

Should I buy one?

Depends on what you want. It almost comes across as a premium compact inside, but too much hard plastic lets it down. Ignore that and you have a more sober rival to a DS3 DSport, or a more comfortable, more relaxed, cheaper and not much slower alternative to  a Cooper S.

It's a warm hatch rather than a hot one, but it's good fun to drive and augurs well for the GTI to come.

John Simister

Peugeot 208 Feline THP 156

Price £16,895; 0-62mph 8.1sec; Top speed 134mph; Economy 48.7mpg; CO2 135g/km; Engine 1598cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol; Kerb weight 1090kg; Power 154bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 192lb ft at 1750-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
jessica256 26 October 2012

hi....your post was nice


I read your post this was so nice to me and its give me a lot of information that help me to find me the best option.

thanks to post

Rob McSorley on CARS 24 October 2012

top job...

looking forward to the GTi even more now. The 208 is a good car (despite stupid comments about obscured dials)...


road runner 24 October 2012

I'll go along with the naysayers.

The 208's interior quality let's it down in many ways - 80's PSA style. Tapping the hard plastics will provoke a 205 flashback.  

The Polo Blue GT get's the company dosh, and will replace my Golf Gti 230.