Did you see the recent TV ad for the 208 GTi 30th anniversary edition? The one where the little car outguns an aeroplane, conquers frozen lakes and snowy mountains and throws itself around and even over the top of a pursuing helicopter before arriving at its destination with the driver unruffled and ready for other types of conquest?
It’s based on the original promo for the 205 GTi, an example of which features in it, being overtaken by this new special edition 208.
It’s undeniable of course that this 208 would overtake the 205. Yes it’s a only a little shopping car with a tiny steering wheel and a curious colour scheme, but in this version it’s got 205bhp to play with (205? Ha!). We might get misty-eyed about the 205 GTi, but it wouldn’t see which way the newer car went. That, I’m afraid to say, is progress.
Or is it? You see although this tarted-up special is undoubtedly quicker, on the road it’s a twitchy little devil. Yes it might be quick in a straight line, but only if you can keep it in one - use its power liberally and, despite a Torsen diff, it has a heck of a job to put it all down.
On top of that it has a super-stiff ride that on a bumpy British B-road is so bad it felt like it was about to break my spine. Drive it on a motorway in a crosswind and it begins to feel decidedly unstable, too. Then add in an awkward clutch and an unexpectedly long-throw gearchange, and it doesn’t take long to conclude that, although this 208 can be made to go fast, driving it in such a manner is not really very nice at all.