Car news

18 February 2012

The Peugeot GTI is back!

Yes, a new 208 GTI concept will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. Paul Horrell reports…

Paul Horrell
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Nostalgia for the 1980s should have its limits. Turning back the calendar to the decade of the Montego, big hair and Duran Duran is always going to be an idea fraught with peril.

Which is probably why Peugeot’s new GTI Concept, a centrepiece of its Geneva Show stand next month, doesn’t look like a piece of pure 1980s retro. But its aim is to get back in contact with one of our favourite memories of that era, the 205 GTI.

Like the 205 GTI it’s short, light and powerful. It’s got the proportions of a little bulldog, and a GTI badge on the pillar behind the rear side window. It even gives a hat-tip to red seat belts and grey-tartan seat pattern.

Peugeot knows it has lost its hot-hatch mojo since then. But this souped-up version of the 208, previewing a production version about a year away, shows it might just know what it needs to do to get it back.

How better to start than by giving it more poooooooweeeer. It runs the RCZ’s 200bhp 1.6 turbo. We’re fervently hoping that while they’re at it, they’ve also installed a goodly dose of the RCZ’s handling smarts. The signs are good. It runs 18-inch wheels and a wider track compared with the regular 208.

The 206 and 207 were too swollen, too ornate-looking and not powerful enough. The 208 carves at least 100kg from its predecessor’s weight, and a huge 6cm from its front overhang. Yet it increases both interior space and improves crash strength.

In other words if it was a sandwich, it’d have thinner, crustier bread on the outside and more meat in between. Well count us hungry. As Duran Duran would have had it, Hungry Like the Wolf.

Tags: 208, peugeot, geneva