INTERVIEW: ANDREAS BAREIS
PEUGEOT 208 GT LINE
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
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.
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.
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.