By Sandy Myhre
First came the Peugeot 104, the tiny hatch, in 1976. Since then the recipe has gone by numbers 205, 206, 207 and now, 208 which has been heavily refreshed.
The French car maker has come up trumps with this car. Indeed, it would be hard to find a similar sporty hatch that can match performance, style and on road capability and, the clincher price than this, unless you’re talking Ford Fiesta but Peugeot has it over the Ford in so many areas.
There’s so much to like about this new model. The exterior styling is aggressive, the windscreen lays back to create a longer nose and trim levels are fitted with sleek gloss-black wheel-arch extensions that fit nicely with the tail-light graphic which stretches the entire width of the boot lid. It looks like a GT.
And so to the road. There is no question at all that Peugeot make the best seats in the world. At least for me. It’s a wonder other car companies don’t unpick the seat to find their secret because the seats, front and rear, are so comfortable you think you’re lounging on the sofa at home. And in this GT model the sides squabs are raised to give added protection.
It’s hard to realise this is a 1.2 litre. It has the efficiency of 130 horsepower PureTech petrol that’s coupled to a six-speed EAT6 auto gearbox and the combination gives the impression there is a much bigger lump under the bonnet. It performs beautifully.
You can throw it around the twisty bits and it stays flat and secure. You can glide over the straight bits and feel equally secure and it feels as though there is always something in reserve that’s just waiting for you to unleash. In New Zealand you can’t really but we got a glimpse of what might be by caning it between Puketona and Kerikeri.
The information area – the dashboard – comes in two sections or tiers. The main information dashboard is touchscreen and there’s a row of toggle switches resting below. The toggles are an innovative idea and hark back to earlier times but in modern form.
It has all the standard extra safety pieces of kit that you’d expect, like driver assist, active safety brake, lane keeping assist, blind spot signal and a reversing camera. The LED headlights have smart beam assist which automatically reshape the main beam to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers and there are other features more commonly found on luxury vehicles such as a leather steering wheel.
The Peugeot 208 GT is really to enjoy. It won’t suit everyone, it’s not a family vehicle and it’s certainly not an SUV. But if you are on your own or you have a partner and you take passengers from time to time, this is one car you will want to own.