Peugeot 208 GT


If you passed your driving test in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s, I’m willing to bet that you did-so a Fiesta. On the other hand, was it a Micra, a Corsa, or a Clio? I used to teach people to drive in a Corsa: BSM pyramid, phone number on the side…  Anyway as I was saying, back then Lancia Deltas, and Toyota Corollas fought over World Rally Championships, the Sierra Cosworth dominated the British Touring Car Championship, yuppies, well-to do mums, and Paula Hamilton drove VW Golfs, and every bleach-blonde-bobbed female TV police officer you could dream of drove an XR3i.

     After the initial very cheap (and very dodgy) first car, and then the obligatory Mini, my list of previous cars reads like a hatchback who’s who: MG Metros, Polos, a Fabia, a couple of Peugeot 106s – a Rallye and an XSi –  five Golfs in various guises, and of course, a Peugeot 205. An XS, to be exact.

   Yes, I know the Golf was the sensible and much stronger choice - as personal experience of crashes in both VW’s and Peugeot’s icons proved most assuredly! Nevertheless, surely the definitive hatchback of my generation was the Peugeot 205. Just ask anyone who, like me, was 11 in 1984 and watched in awe as Ari Vatanen drove a Group-B 205 T16 to victory on that year’s Lombard RAC.  

     It hard to comprehend just how important the 205 was; it literally saved Peugeot. And without it, there certainly wouldn’t be the 208 GT we have here.

     Once glance the new Peugeot 208 styling is all it takes to instantly remind you of the 205.

The boot lid is rounded, the nose more angular. The chrome 208 script on the bonnet is in the same font as it was on your uncle’s 504, and the tapering C-pillar complete with inset badges couldn’t have been inspired by anything else. 208 GTs even get twin exhausts and a little boot spoiler. Where previous small Peugeots have been angular and awkward, there is something just right about the new 208’s creases and curves, and especially so if your budget runs to triple-LED ‘claw’ lights and 17-inch rims.

      If the outside is retro, the inside is most definitely modern – and significantly better screwed together and far less brittle in feel than Peugeots of old as well. No one will thank you for asking them for taking anything but a short journey in the rear seats – head and leg room even for someone as short as me is at a premium – but up front things are altogether better.

    The driving position does at first take a little getting used to, thanks to the combination of Peugeot’s square-topped saucer-sized steering wheel, a seat that doesn’t quite go low enough, and the fitment of all-new and multi-configurable 3D electronic instruments; It feels as if you’re driving a video game simulator. And if like me you prefer buttons to adjust your climate rather than touchscreens, you might feel somewhat short-changed. Still at least said touchscreen is clear and nicely integrated into what was in “my” 208, a carbon-fibre effect dash.

       You can have your 208 with various power sources, there’s an all-electric 208e, a 1.5 diesel for those who like to do big miles, and a choice of 1.2-litre turbocharged petrols in three states of tune; 74, 99 and 127bhp. Peugeot kindly lent me a 208 GT, which benefits from the latter. It also gets an 8-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

     Tiny tiller, just two pedals, and plastic paddle-shifters, hmm…  Perhaps you can see why I said that on first acquaintance the 208 all feels a bit like a video game. However, the truth is, it is altogether better than it sounds. It’s light, the 3 cylinder engine is thrummy and has just the right amount of gruff in its exhaust note, the ride even on the GT’s firmer dampers is well-judged, and with 127bhp and 0-60 time of 8.7 seconds it’s no wonder you can’t help but think of the 205 GTi when you drive it. Sure, it’s not as instantly direct or as involving as its illustrious forebear – and neither will you experience the lift-off over-steer thanks to raft of electronics that simply weren’t available way-back-when – but there’s definitely a certain something there somewhere. It’s enjoyable, and I genuinely found myself making up reasons to drive it.

     The 208 GT marks a real return to form for Peugeot, Is it as good as the 205? Probably not, but then dewy-eyed nostalgia probably plays a part in that conclusion. However, even if you are just popping out for something totally unnecessary, drive the 208GT swiftly down your favourite B-road and it’ll make you feel young again.

    And if that isn’t reason for praise, what is?




PEUGEOT 208 GT 1.2L PureTech 130 EAT8 S&S Automatic

Engine: 1,199 cc 3Cyl 12V turbo-charged, petrol

Transmission: 8 Speed manual, front wheel drive.

Power:  129 bhp @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 170 lbft @ 1,750 rpm

0-62MPH: 8.7 Sec

Max Speed: 129 mph

CO2: 103g/km (NEDC-based estimate)

MPG: 51.9 – 46.0 (WLTP combined)

Price: from £24,525 otr (as driven £24,525)


Many thanks to Michael at Peugeot’s UK press office




Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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