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Peugeot 208 GTi 30th Anniversary

Peugeot have long been heralded for their spontaneity in manufacturing. From the bulletproof 504 Wagon which conquered the world with its rugged simplicity and ‘can-do’ attitude, or perhaps the rally special 205 GTi, both are perfect examples of Peugeot’s ability to dominate almost any road surface. But over the last few decades, Peugeot have lost the bee from under their bonnet. That signature zing which was engineered into their DNA and stole the showroom floor from the Germans, it was all lost...

But, from their recent murmurs, it seems that they could indeed be back to business. Peugeot’s passionate engineers have been awoken from a two-decade long hibernation and been put straight to work on this. The 208 GTi. The grandchild to its fabled predecessor the 205 GTi. This is the car that is putting Peugeot back on the map and taking the the hot hatch fight to the front doors of VW, Ford, Mini and Renault. However this flared out boy-racer isn’t the standard GTi, the model you see here is the limited edition 30th Anniversary model, released at the tail-end of last year it was one of only 24 units to come to Australia.

First things first, the power has been dialled up to 153Kw and torque up to 300Nm from the 1.6L power unit. While the original rally special 205 had a naturally aspirated 1.9L, even though this engine is smaller in capacity it has attached a tasty little turbocharger that chimes it’s power delivery low down in the rev range.

It doesn’t have the same fizzy engine note as the original 205, with its pops and crackles, but that is not to say that it isn’t an exciting car. The wider track, sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and stiffened suspension are a fine tune to the standard GTi and really sets the two trim levels apart on the road. Despite the modernisation, it doesn’t feel as lethargic and bloated as its 207-badged predecessor. Power down through a corner the diff handles the front wheels with precision as the inside rear tyre lifts and turns the car into a tripod. It is a fizzy little drive and Peugeot have really thought about what made their cars great.

The feel through the steering is intuitive and the engine delivery is immediately dispatched with a tickle of the throttle. If really pushing the GTi on track, Peugeot has perfectly captured the spirit of its predecessor with the car gifting the driver with lift off oversteer. Moving away from the shenanigans and childish behaviour on road, the interior is a love/hate relationship with many owners. We at TGJ personally love the mad new interior flair and chubby little steering wheel. Hot hatches should scream fun and lunacy, just as the 205 did. The 30th Anniversary comes with fantastic sports bucket seats, touch screen infotainment system and loads of little styling cues that hark back to its roots. It is a car that appeals directly to the young at heart.

For the people that once had a 205 GTi and want to experience the French way of taking a corner, look no further. It genuinely is a brilliantly handling car and if it doesn’t put a smile on your face, you must be doing it wrong.