Peugeot has promised it will revive the GTI legend with its forthcoming 208 range next year. Replacing the seven-year-old 207 range, the all-new 208 will be shown at the Geneva motor show in February and is expected in Oz mid-year.
Speaking at the launch of the 508 mid-sized sedan and wagon, Peugeot Australia MD, Ken Thomas, confirmed that the 208 GTI would be imported to Oz, promising that Peugeot’s French engineers have aimed to revive the virtues of the iconic 205 GTI and 306 S16 models.
''When I first saw the 208 GTI, I thought 'yes, finally a return to our roots',' said Thomas, admitting that the highly-criticised previous-gen 207 GTI “didn’t go the full monty''.
''People have been saying for years ''c'mon, we want a proper GTI'… we had the opportunity to bring the 308 GTI but I thought it looked too restrained. People will think that we’re simply bullshitting them [with the GTI badge]''.
Thomas guarantees an aggressive look for the 208 GTI, with unique panels differentiating it from the regular range. Flared guards will enable engineers to widen the front track to provide the agility renowned in previous GTI variants. The 208 GTI will be powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with the 147kW 1.6-litre engine from the RCZ an option strongly hinted at by Peugeot’s MD. It will also weigh less than the previous-gen 1250 kg 207 GTI, thanks to increased use of lightweight high-tensile steel and an aluminium bonnet.
Peugeot will position the 208 GTI between the VW Polo GTI and Golf GTI, with a $30-35K pricetag expected. It’s the success of those rival models that Thomas says have necessitated Peugeot to return to building what he describes as a ''proper GTI''. And that’s something the 207 GTI never was…