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Paris show: Peugeot 208 GTi unveiled

Back in the game: Peugeot will return to the hot hatch fold next year with the lightweight 208 GTi – a rival for pocket rockets like the Renault Sport Clio and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Peugeot harks back to its hot hatch glory days with all-new 208 GTi


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4 Sep 2012

PEUGEOT is promising to “re-generate the values” of the iconic 205 GTi with its all-new 208 GTi hot hatch, unveiled overnight ahead of its global debut at the Paris motor show on September 27.

Locked in for an Australian debut by the middle of 2013, the front-drive GTi is lower and wider than the standard 208 three-door on which it is based (itself due Down Under later this month).

As expected, power comes from the same PSA 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is used in the Peugeot RCZ, Citroen DS3 and Mini Cooper S, developing a potent 147kW and 275Nm of torque matched exclusively to a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox.

The self-shifting gearbox bucks the trend in the light-sized hot hatch market, with a host of key rivals like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Skoda Fabia RS and the forthcoming (yet-to-be-revealed) Renault Sport Clio all limited to dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Combined with a light 1160kg weight, this engine is said to punt the pint-sized Pug from zero to 100km/h in less than 7.0 seconds, putting it squarely on par with the Polo GTI (6.9s).

Peugeot also claims the 208 GTi will make an “appealing sound”, thanks to a reworked exhaust system.

The car-maker says it has tapped into its motorsport heritage in Le Mans and rally with the new GTi, with the aim of returning the car to the light-and-playful ethos of the iconic 205 GTi of the 1980s.

The French company’s dynamics manager Marie Beaumont described the standard 208 as “an excellent base for developing a sports hatchback”, adding that “we have worked with particular attention on the steering response, the chassis dynamics and rigidity of the suspension”.

The hottest 208 sits on a widened track (10mm at the front and 20mm at the rear), and a modified version of the base car’s MacPherson strut front/ torsion beam rear suspension set-up.

Peugeot has specifically-tuned the car’s springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bar, fitted a stronger front subframe and rear crossmember and calibrated the electric steering for extra weight.

The new five-spoke diamond Carbon alloy wheels are shod in 205/45 tyres and sit in front of 302mm ventilated disc brakes and the front and 249mm discs at the rear.

Externally, the GTi looks almost identical to the GTi ‘concept’ that starred on the Peugeot stand at the Geneva motor show in February.

Standard are 17-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights with LED daytime runners (apparently reminiscent of a “cat’s pupil”), special gloss-black grille with mesh inserts, twin chrome exhaust tips, and chrome exterior highlights on the window ledges, C-pillar and fog light surrounds.

All vehicles, regardless of paint colour, get red highlights on the brake callipers, grille and badging.

Inside, the door handles, centre console, instrument panel and steering feature colour highlights that match the paint colour, and is differentiated from the base 208 by its red-stitched partial-leather sports seats, aluminium pedals, footrest and gearknob and GTi badges.

As we have reported, the 208 GTi will hit the local market alongside a yet-to-be-revealed XY three-door variant, which was preview alongside the GTi concept in Geneva and will be pitched as a rival to the DS3 from fellow PSA brand Citroen.

Peugeot is also expected to debut a 208-based crossover SUV at what is shaping up to be a strong presence at its home show in Paris later this month.

The vehicle, codenamed A94 and strongly-tipped to be badged ‘2008’ when it hits production next year, will be a rival for the Holden Trax and Nissan Juke when it hits Australia at the end of 2013.

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