The heat is on
A truly Pugnacious 208 is en route
production at the Paris motor show in September and go on sale in Europe shortly after.
With Peugeot Australia getting cars about six months after the overseas launch, that would put its arrival here at about this time next year.
‘‘ Given the popularity of hot hatches in Australia, the GTI version of the 208 is something that we would want in our portfolio,’’ spokeswoman Jaedene Hudson says.
It would not only give a flagship model to the 208 range but also build on the iconic GTI— which started life in the form of a 205— while playing a part in re-establishing Peugeot’s performance presence in Australia.
And the man responsible for the 208 GTI concept unveiled at Geneva motor show last month, Peugeot design director Pierre Authier, says there is nothing he would change or that needs to be changed to put the car on sale.
‘‘ Everything you see here on the concept is feasible (for production),’’ Authier says. ‘‘ We do this job on a real 208, we just put the design and everything is very realistic inside also. So if they said we can go, it will be very quick. If we have a yes, it takes only some months.’’
The only thing that could change is the size of the alloy wheels, tipped to shrink from 18-inch to 17-inch but retain their gunmetal spokes with one picked out in a red accent.
Also staying are the sporty cabin fit-out scattered with red accents and the GTI badging on the chrome body tab.
The drivetrain of 147kw/ 275Nm 1.6-litre turbo fourcylinder (shared with the striking RCZ coupe) and sixspeed manual in the front-drive show car is also staying, although it may be detuned slightly – possibly saving the full outputs for a special sport edition.
The Volkswagen Polo GTI is the first rival people will picture against the Peugeot, but it will also face off against the Renaultsport Clio and Ford Fiesta ST.
‘‘ If we want to make the legend we have to be different and have to embody the new kind of sportivity, but without being derivative of some of those cars,’’ Authier says.
‘‘ It will be sportive without aggressiveness, much more agility, much more pleasure.’’
Hot hatch lovers will be hoping the 208 GTI can restore the mojo of the legendary 205 GTI that appeared in 1984 and became a benchmark in the class— much as the overall 205 range also did, gathering a swag of awards that included CAR magazine’s Car of the Decade in 1990.
‘‘ When we presented the 208, a lot of people talk to us about the 205 but we really don’t want to make a new 205,’’ Authier says.