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Geneva show: Peugeot 308 hot hatch imminent

Beast: The hardcore Peugeot 308 R shows the direction the company wants to take with its imminent hot hatch derivatives.

Peugeot puts 308 GTi hot hatch atop its priority list, says no need for more SUVs

Peugeot logo11 Mar 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON in GENEVA

PEUGEOT plans to devote much of its development resources to creating sporty versions of the new-generation 308 hatch, rather than cashing in on the global growth in SUVs.

Speaking in Geneva last week, chief executive officer Maxime Picat said developing a hot hatch rival for the Volkswagen Golf GTI was a priority, while adding that he felt Peugeot’s current batch of crossovers and SUVs was “enough”, despite the worldwide boom in high-riding models.

“We want to develop the 308 as a focus for the market by having more powerful versions. GT (and) maybe GTi, so we are focusing our development in that direction,” he said.

Mr Picat said the Golf R-rivalling 308 R concept from last year's Frankfurt motor show was still not locked in for production, with the company concentrating on other sportier 308 variants first.

“The 308 R was clearly the vision. We have several steps to make before like the GT, like the GTi. It depends on the success of the other versions,” he said.

Mr Picat was less enthused on broadening the company’s SUV range beyond the 208-based 2008 urban crossover, the unusual 3008 soft-roader, the Mitsubishi ASX-in-drag 4008 and the high-riding 508 RXH wagon, a rival for the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.

“For the moment we think that’s enough,” he said.

In 2009, Peugeot launched the 4007 seven-seat SUV – essentially a second-generation Mitsubishi Outlander with a new face – but this has since been discontinued. The company now has no major player in the significant medium and large SUV markets.

Meantime, the French company also used last week’s Geneva motor show for the international debut of its 108 city car, the result of a joint-venture between parent company PSA and Japanese car-maker Toyota. It shares its underpinnings with the new Citroen C1 and the Toyota Aygo that also had their first showing at the Swiss expo.

The 108 will continue with PSA's strategy of pushing the Peugeot brand further upmarket, with a design that sits in line with the company's new styling direction, while the Citroen carries bolder style and will be pitched as the more accessible alternative.

Toyota's version features polarising front-end styling with a colour contrasted X-mark theme that stretches from the exterior mirrors down to the headlights and further down to the lower part of the front bumper.

Mr Picat said he doesn't believe there would be an issue selling the three models in the same European markets as the styling will set them apart.

“It (the Aygo) is really different from 108 and C1. It is something we really wanted to achieve from that new model, to push the differentiation towards the different cars to be sure that that car is a real Peugeot. If you put 108 close to 208 or 2008 you will see it belongs to the family,” he said.

Last month, Peugeot's parent company PSA struck a deal with the French government and Chinese automotive giant Dongfeng as a part of a Euro 3 billion ($A4.6b) life-line, with each of the investors chipping in Euro 800 million ($A1.2b) for a 14 per cent share.

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