Coming to the end of a three year stint with my 2014 Peugeot 208GTi now, so a good excuse for a self-indulgent review.
For context, this was my 34th car and I like to think I’m pretty honest about the relative merits of the cars I’ve owned. So hopefully this helps anyone considering one for themselves.
Bought new in June 2014, the GTi stood out for me in terms of value for this type of vehicle. I’d looked at and test driven cars, both new and second hand, from the next category up and they were all lovely. But the GTi offered 90% of the performance for 70% of the price.
I also felt, and this is a very personal thing, that the GTi nailed the sporty, classy and cool mix more convincingly than the other options. The Fiesta ST sounds like a more involving drive, but is a bit low on class (yes, I’m a snob…). The RenaultSport Clios were bang up to date and had the ‘euro’ thing going, but with the flappy paddles and gimmicky tech, were a bit too juvenile for this 40-something oldie. The Peugeot manages to be classy and cool in a way that most people can relate to, rather than just car enthusiasts.
So – ownership. Well, I didn’t have high hopes for reliability – PSA products have had their issues over the years – so the was set low from the start. I’m pleased to report that the GTi has been good. Though you may disagree. The door did fall off, after all…
A tiny clip that holds the passenger door top hinge pin in place had come off at some point. Eventually the tight fitting pin itself worked its way loose and one day when the door was opened, it was suddenly quite heavy! Naturally this happened three states from home and during the Christmas period. A simple failure but with dramatic sounding consequences, I wasn’t that bothered by it. Yes, annoyed at the time and not helped by a amateurish dealer experience (sorted by the very helpful Peugeot head office), it was a simple fix and certainly not recurring. If you’re interested in ‘Toyota’ style infallibility, then you’d be understandably miffed…
But to spend a paragraph on that is to do the car a disservice. It has been a wonderful thing to own and enjoy!
Point to point this is a very fast car. On a mountain road you’d need the best of the current hatches (of which there are plenty, yes) to keep up. Though powerful, it’s the torque that dominates the driving experience. You hear journalists talk about “surging forward on a wave of torque” – well that sums up the GTi. It revs OK, but it’s clearly not that type of engine. The little hesitation that typifies a turbo engine then it just lunges. And keeps on lunging. On a closed road this car easily surges (can’t find a better word) past 200km/h and beyond. Is this the curse of the modern performance car? Too fast for the roads we drive them on? Everything is just too easy – speed limits are reached immediately and then, because the car is operating so far below its capability it’s all a bit, well….boring.
The grip is the other part of the same ‘problem’. Like any modern performance car, grip is well beyond the bravery of most people. Though, again, on a tight mountain road it is a lot of fun – my wife enjoys being a passenger for that enormously!
Comfort wise, we’ve enjoyed some lovely touring in this car. In many ways I reckon this car is as much ‘GT’ as ‘GTi’. Clever small car packaging means there’s heaps of room up front for two large passengers and the enormous wheelbase (as a percentage of total length) means leg room is great. We even took my mother along for a 2000k trip and we were all very comfortable.
The boring stuff has been good. Fuel economy has been fine. Mid-8s around town (Canberra and then Hobart) and low to mid 6’s in the country. Servicing is annual though there was a little hiccup with the Hobart dealer recognising the capped price servicing booklet that came with the car from the Canberra dealer. Again, an email to head office sorted that straight away. Though it shouldn’t have been necessary. “That booklet should’ve been taken out of the car” doesn’t cut it.
Overall, been very happy. Fast, fun, stylish and cool – and great to use as an everyday tool. Recommended.