THANKS TO ITS GT-LINE STYLING PACKAGE, THE PEUGEOT 208 HATCH COMES WITH A LITTLE MORE FLAIR THAN THE USUAL ECONOBOX BRIGADE.
Both outside and in, the 208 GT-Line offers fancy dress copied from Peugeot’s raucous 208 GTi, but utilises the same engine as the 208 Active and Allure models.
The GT-Line sits just a peg below the GTi at the top of the 'regular' 208 range (and a few thousand dollars less than the GTi).
Vehicle Style: Light hatchback
Price: $27,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 81kW/205Nm 1.2 3cyl turbo petrol | 6spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.5 l/100km | tested: 6.4 l/100km
With a list price of $27,490, the 208 GT-Line isn’t exactly a budget hatch - particularly compared to the 208 range’s $15,990 opening gambit. In fact, if you can scrape together ‘just’ an extra $3500 you could have a 208 GTi.
Unlike the GTi though, the GT-Line offers five-door practicality, and an automatic transmission, and mimics the conceptually similar Renault Clio GT by being a sub-performance model flagship.
But, despite a healthy equipment list, the 208 GT-Line's price has it nudging-up against vehicles a size larger, as well as being just a few hundred dollars off the entry-point to the small SUV league.
Can the pint-size Peugeot shine against competition like that?
- Standard equipment: Dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed sports steering wheel and handbrake, sports seats, automatic lights and wipers, cooled glovebox, trip computer, rear privacy glass, front and rear park sensors, self-parking function, 17-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen display, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and Aux connectivity, satellite navigation
- Cargo volume: 311 litres minimum, 1152 litres maximum
The interior of the 208 GT-Line borrows some of the best bits from the 208 GTi, adorned with the same red-line door pulls and seatbelts, the same flat-bottomed steering wheel, and a pair of sporty front seats.
The 208 isn’t exactly a big car, so the interior can feel a little 'intimate'. Driver and passenger sit close to one another, and taller drivers might find the driving position a little short of adjustment.
But, for most drivers, the small steering wheel and high-set gauges work well and impart a sporting feel. And the front seats are very good for shaping and comfort.
Thanks to the GT-Line’s five-door body, access to the rear seat is simplified compared to the three-door GTi.
The rear door apertures are a little on the narrow side, but the rear seat offers decent head and legroom, albeit with an upright backrest and slightly short under-thigh support.
There’s certainly a more upmarket feel to the interior than you might find in your average light hatch. Part of that impression comes from the 7.0-inch touchscreen which offers menu access to the navigation, audio, communication, and trip computer menus.
A textured soft-touch dash facia breaks with tradition somewhat with its geometric patterning in place of the usual grained look.
Unfortunately, elements like the small cup-holders up front, and the tiny glovebox fall a long way short of other offerings in the class. There are decent door pockets, and a sliver of stowage under the centre armrest, but not much more.
The boot offers 311 litres of space with the rear seats in place, making it one of the larger offerings in its class, expanding to 1152 litres with the 60:40 split bench folded.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 81kW/205Nm 1.2 litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: Front MacPherson struts, rear torsion beam
- Steering: Speed sensitive electrically assisted
Thanks to an update towards the end of 2015, the 208 range has ditched the antiquated four-speed auto option, as well as dropping its previous 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine.
In their place is a more contemporary six-speed auto coupled to a 1.2 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine.
It drops 7kW but gains 45Nm compared to the 1.6 litre it replaced, bringing the performance to 81kW at 5500rpm and 205Nm from 1500rpm.
It’s the same mechanical package you’ll find in the larger 308 range, as well as Citroen’s C4, but with outputs trimmed back ever-so-slightly.
With a rather svelte kerb weight of just over one tonne (1070kg), and the ready urge of a low torque peak, the 208 feels brisk darting through suburban streets, with reassuring low down thrust.
It’s no firebrand, with a 0-100km/h time of 10.9 seconds, but that’s not such a tremendous shortcoming, as the compact Peugeot makes clever use of its abilities at lower speeds.
While the previous four-speed automatic was a genuine disappointment, the newer six-speed automatic brings the 208 into the modern era, however it can still be a little underwhelming at times.
Gearshifts are usually smooth, but far from quick. At lower speeds, like the tedious peakhour crawl, there is some shuddering and jerking from the transmission. It's not too disconcerting, but present nonetheless.
If you’d like to pick up the pace a little, there’s a 'Sport' mode for the transmission, as well as a manual shift mode if you’re feeling enthusiastic.
With its quick and accurate steering, and the small diameter steering wheel, the 208 feels really sporty on-road, responding quickly and cleanly to steering inputs, and darting through corners without any hint of nervousness or reluctance to turn-in.
Unlike the Clio GT, which gets a suspension tune tweaked by Renault Sport, the Peugeot GT rolls on a suspension tune identical to lesser models, with 17-inch wheels the only difference.
Through the burbs, the suspension is pliant over lumps and bumps in the road surface, but as the pace picks up - say, at 80km/h and above - the ride feels firmer.
On secondary roads and the pockmarked surfaces peppering Australian tarmac, the 208 can become a little unsettled as though the suspension is struggling to keep up.
Serene travel is assured however, with good noise isolation. The engine can sound a little raucous at high revs, and there is some tyre shear over coarse tarmac, but, for an overall sense of refinement, the 208 is better than average for the segment.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.03 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2012.
Safety features: Six airbags (dual front, dual side, curtain), electronic stability control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, force-limiting front seatbelts with pretensioners,
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Small size, high equipment, and a sense of style? There’s some interesting and varied options to choose from.
Try the Mazda2 Genki, offering plenty of standard features, tidy dynamics, a well-designed interior and a decent lump of cash in your pocket thanks to its lower price. The Renault Clio GT really emphasises its sporting nature, with Renault Sport inspired bodystyling, a racey interior, and sports-tuned suspension - available as a ‘basic’ GT or more upspec GT Premium.
Another car you might consider is the Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI - for just $760 more than the 208 GT-Line you get a prestige marque in the driveway, but have to do without 17-inch alloys or sat-nav as standard.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Certainly a city dweller, and one that’s designed for buyers who don’t want to miss out on a few little luxuries, the Peugeot 208 GT-Line puts a fashionable slant on compact motoring.
It’s not alone however, with competitors like the Renault Clio GT looking to fill a similar niche.
Sure, there is better buying-value to be had lower in the 208 range, but discerning buyers can find a lot of features and appealing sporty style in the smartly-attired 208 GT-Line.
It's a cool little car. And, while it might not be the perfect all-rounder, the 208 GT-Line is a nice little addition to the 208 range .
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