We found it difficult to find the ideal driving position and to read the instrument panel without the steering wheel getting in the way
Ride and Handling
Compared to the standard 208 the ride height is lowered by 8mm, the tracks are wider at the front (10mm) and the rear (20mm), due to longer wishbones, and the front struts and rear torsion beam are thicker, designed to keep the GTi in place. As standard it rides on 205/45 tyres, the 17" Diamond Carbone wheels, with Storm paint and matt varnish, which house 302mm ventilated discs at the front and 249mm at the rear.
The steering was spot on for my taste and whilst out exploring the best of Devon’s ‘B’ roads I began to realise that the rest of the handling package was very good. It would take something like the Porsche Cayman to outwit it or perhaps Ford’s Fiesta ST, and then it would be a close call on these tight and twisting roads where agility in king.
I have a favourite roundabout and I always like to safely provoke the cars we test, to see how they cope with my deliberately ham fisted input. I had to go around again just to witness how much grip the 208 GTi has – although ultimately there was a little bit too much body roll and the suspension was a tad on the soft side. However, it does not impair the fun and the handling is predictable and the ride cosseting, where this might disappoint some potential owners, the majority will thank Peugeot for making the GTi a blend of excitement and comfort on long journeys.
Ease of Use
The 208 GTi has a footprint of 3962 mm long by 200 mm wide including the mirrors and stands 1460 mm high.
Getting in and out is a fairly easy affair as it is 3-door (only available as a 3-door), so the doors open quite wide, there is a swopping roof line and the sills are a little high (some people with mobility issues might find them difficult to get over). Space in the rear is tight and adult passengers will moan, but sub 10 year olds should be ok. We found it was awkward to fit an ISOFix child seat in the rear.
We found it difficult to find the ideal driving position and to read the instrument panel without the steering wheel getting in the way; this seems to be a design fault echoed by other motoring journalists.
Forward vision is good, but the sports seats can hamper over the shoulder vision and the rear ‘C’ pillars are quite thick, fortunately the 208 GTi does have parking sensors, even though it is quite compact to manoeuvre. Our test car was fitted with the £280 Park Assist and Cornering Assist Fog Lights, this will automatically assist you to park in parallel spaces – once engaged (and we found it hard to reach the switch ), you have to keep your speed to under 12 mph and indicate the direction in which you wish to find a space. The car will then check if the car will fit into a parallel space to your left or right – if it can it will alert you and take control over the steering to ensure that you are perfectly parked – it will also get you out of a tight space. It works well but in real life indicating to get into a space before you know you will fit might irritate motorists behind you.
The boot will accommodate 285 litres which is 15 litres larger than the 207 model and it benefits from a 60/40 split rear seat – you might struggle to get some prams and strollers into the rear but the family shop should fit. There was a full size alloy wheel under the boot floor. There is storage space around the car but do not expect to put much in the glove compartment.