Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport
A switch to some fresh and more appropriate rubber uncovers a bigger concern
WHEN I BOUGHT THE PEUGEOT LAST YEAR, it came on a matching set of tyres – often rare in the world of used cars. But those tyres were old Nankangs, beginning to look a wee bit worn up front. I made a mental note to switch them for something more in keeping with the 208’s focus with reasonable haste.
But that soon plummeted down the priority list, the car’s amusing balance – namely its love of lift-off oversteer that I was so enamoured of in early press cars – feeling exaggerated by its non-oem rubber. In the dry, the car was deft and alert. In the wet it could border on the cartoonish.
An ever-quickening slow puncture nudged replacement tyres back into view as autumn arrived, though, and my search for a new set was swift. I’m a stickler for originality (ignore the fact I’ve upgraded the dampers to Bilsteins…) and so Michelin was the first brand on my mind, the GTI by Peugeot Sport wearing bespoke Super Sports when new. Those are no longer available in the BPS’S 205/40 R18 size, but the French firm’s Pilot Sport 4 is considered a strong alternative. Tyre tests in this magazine have rated Pilot Sport variants well in the past and I’ve had highly positive experiences with the PS4 on recent performance cars, chiefly the Toyota GR86. I promptly ordered a set (which come in at £712.76 on Blackcircles.com as I write).
This is where the tale twists. Or more precisely, my front nearside wheel. It turns out the slow puncture wasn’t emanating from tyre damage, but a buckled wheel rim. I’d put the car’s very slight pull to the left down to a tracking issue, one that’s surely inevitable when a car is so stiffly sprung and aggressively cambered and our roads so beaten up. Something to simply tolerate, in other words. Alas it proved much pricier to fix; my local tyre fitter reckoned a repair wasn’t feasible, so I promptly limped the car home to hit the phones for a replacement.
I ended up ordering a brand-new wheel directly through Peugeot, the only place the BPS edition’s unique satin black alloy could be found quickly. Sourcing it was simple but delivery less so, its journey from France seemingly scuppered by customs issues and postal delays. It also significantly swelled the cost of what was otherwise a routine tyre replacement.
Several weeks later, with one new alloy and four new tyres finally fitted, the GTI was back in action and somewhat better than before. The Michelins were fitted during December’s biting cold snap, so their first few dozen miles were covered in temperatures well below zero and thus very cautiously. Just about every journey I’ve made since has been in some degree of wet conditions, but the way I can now put power down – wringing out every last benefit of the BPS’S tenacious Torsen LSD – is a notable step on. The rear axle seems more politely behaved, but given too many of my miles remain very functional ones, that’s no clanging criticism. It does make me want to get the 208 on track to better explore its newly attuned limits, though… (@stephen_dobie)
Date acquired April 2022 Total mileage 41,771 Mileage this month 734 Costs this month £1309.72 (see text) mpg this month 42.1