IN­TER­VIEW: AN­DREAS BAREIS

PEU­GEOT 208 GT LINE

Driven - - Contents - Re­port & Im­ages © DEON VAN DER WALT

The man at the helm of McLaren’s Su­per Se­ries

IF YOU MAKE CAR-BUY­ING DE­CI­SIONS BASED ON FACTS AND FIG­URES LIKE VALUE-FOR-MONEY, RELI­A­BIL­ITY SUR­VEYS AND ON­LINE FO­RUMS DED­I­CATED TO BORE AND COMPRESSION STROKES, THE LAT­EST PEU­GEOT 208 GT LINE PROB­A­BLY ISN’T THE CAR FOR YOU, RECK­ONS DEON VAN DER WALT.

The lat­est ver­sion of Peu­geot’s 208 GT Line re­cently ar­rived at our of­fices to be put through its paces and even be­fore we turned the key, we re­alised two things.

Firstly, if you do your gro­cery shop­ping with a zero-mar­gin-for-er­ror bud­get and a slightly abused com­pact cal­cu­la­tor for work­ing out cen­tile deficits, this French car is not likely to tug at your heart­strings— and not just be­cause all your bar­gain buys won’t fit into the boot.

Se­condly, this Peu­geot is made for peo­ple who overuse ad­jec­tives like charisma and pas­sion or even works the oc­ca­sional ‘chi’ into a con­ver­sa­tion.

But it’s also for the in­di­vid­u­als that ap­pre­ci­ate the sub­tler de­tails like the red de­tail strips that are scat­tered across the front grille or the three-di­men­sional ‘claw’ de­tail­ing in the rear tail-light clus­ters.

MUCH THE SAMENESS

And, if you ap­pre­ci­ate that, you’d be pleased to know that on the in­side Peu­geot has upped the metaphor­i­cal mid­dle fin­ger to the no­tion of con­form­ity. The seats are fur­nished in a cloth and er­satz leather blend with beau­ti­ful red stitch­ing.

Then there’s the soft-touch car­bon fi­brestyle dash­board, a fin­ish usu­ally em­ployed on the ex­te­rior by other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The most no­table as­pect of the cabin, though, is the Peu­geot i-Cock­pit de­sign. It’s mod­elled on the idea of en­gag­ing the driver us­ing a brand of min­i­mal­ism. This means that all the es­sen­tial driv­ing in­for­ma­tion is con­tained in the shapely in­stru­ment bin­na­cle that is viewed over the small flat-dish steer­ing wheel.

And since we’re talk­ing steer­ing wheels, you should note that it caused some­what of a prob­lem for this writer. While some Driven road-testers en­joyed the idea of the small and slightly low­ered po­si­tion of the dish, I couldn’t find my chi in any driv­ing po­si­tion. This prompted nu­mer­ous ses­sions of ad­just­ing, fid­dling and re-ad­just­ing un­til I fi­nally set­tled on a po­si­tion that re­sem­bled a slightly stroppy

Trans­form­ers char­ac­ter.

EN­JOY­ABLE?

Yes and no, un­for­tu­nately. On pa­per, the 208 doesn’t ooze power out of its me­chan­i­cal pores with its mod­est 81 kW that is de­liv­ered at 5,500 r/min. The key, how­ever, is the lin­ear power de­liv­ery that can be en­joyed rea­son­ably high up into the rev-spec­trum, while the turbo lag is also as minute as can be ex­pected from the 1.2-litre tur­bocharged en­gine.

It is in the torque de­part­ment where the mill’s best at­tributes shine through, with an im­pres­sive (in its class) 205 Nm of twist-and­turn that is de­liv­ered to the front wheels as early as 1,500 r/min. While the low-lag turbo also has a hand in this, the 208 is one of the cars in its class with the ear­li­est onset of torque, since its di­rect com­peti­tors can only muster their fullest po­ten­tial at 2,000 r/min.

And this brings us to the gear changes. While the early torques make for a pleas­ant drive with­out fran­tic up-and-down shifts — es­pe­cially in traf­fic — shift­ing cogs with the five-speed man­ual gear­box feels a bit limp­wristed, in­spir­ing less con­fi­dence than, say, the Re­nault Clio GT-Line.

THE COM­PE­TI­TION

So, the Re­nault Clio? Well yes, while it’s the 208’s coun­try­man, it is also the only di­rectly com­pa­ra­ble com­peti­tor. It not only wears the same price tag but is also pow­ered by a 1.2-litre tur­bocharged en­gine that pro­duces iden­ti­cal torque, al­beit a bit later. On the power front, though, it slightly trumps the 208 with a near-as-makes-no-dif­fer­ence 7 kW.

What about Volk­swa­gen’s Polo then, you might ask? See, when you buy a Polo in and around this price-bracket, it’s a whole lot of give-and-take. While you can have the 1.0TSI Com­fort­line de­riv­a­tive with an ag­gres­sively styled R-Line pack (R281,849), it only fea­tures 70 kW of power. Or you can opt for the con­ser­va­tively styled 1.0TSI High­line (R286,200) that boasts 85 kW.

LAST WORD

So, in essence, the Peu­geot 208 GT Line is for those that bring quirk­i­ness and lib­eral views to the ta­ble. It’s for the buy­ers un­will­ing to com­pro­mise between niceties, styling and power — all for some­thing as mun­danely sen­si­ble as price. And when you think about it, it’s even quite log­i­cal. The 208 of­fers good value for money, per­for­mance, styling and we’re even sure it has im­pres­sive bore and compression ra­tios. It’s for the peo­ple who know what they want.

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