Last year, when the 208 GTI broke into ice (as literally as the commercial depicted) on an undisclosed location in Eastern Europe, it never made inroads into the UAE hot hatch arena. While it is still unclear when any of those challenger GTI models from Peugeot will hit the market, Swaidan Trading has decided to break the ice with the Peugeot GT Line. So, are the frills on the 208 GT Line worth the extra bucks or when it comes to managing expectations, is it driving on thin ice?
0 – 100 kmph test: Less than 12 sec; Fuel: 8.18 km/L on test
DIMENSIONS: 3963 x 1739 x 1471 mm
Main Features: Electrical foldable door mirrors,Auto headlights and wipers, Front fog lamps, 7” touch screen, Ceilo panoramic roof with mood lighting, navigation, Cruise control with speed limiter, Bizone automatic AC, Rear camera, Driver, passenger and side airbags
FLIPSIDE: Differentiation is all cosmetic, Buyers might move to higher segment for this price
THE PRICE: AED 71,500
Appearances, as the cliché goes, can be quite deceptive. The Peugeot 208 almost gets away with getting you to think that it is the GTI indeed. The red stitch lines, and the elegant fabric-and-leatherette combination in black, only add to the overall premium-ness of the cabin that wheedles you to believe that the Peugeot 208 GT Line is much more than just an entry-level Peugeot. You really won’t mind that when it’s your 208 GT Line vs the neighbour’s opinion.
As I pointed out, this is no hot hatch but the car doesn’t disappoint you either, when you ask for more along the climb. In fact, the Peugeot 208 GT Line responds and reacts like a car with much more than 120 hp available on tap, making highway manoeuvres on your office commute unhesitant and quick. There’s a sport mode but there is little you can do with the traction control off – it returns too quickly! But then, the Peugeot 208 GT is an unrelenting car when it comes to safety norms.
As well as the power, the steering skills too complement the agility of the 208 GT Line. The cosy and nice steering is one of the prettiest things about the drive – it snuggles up to your wicked intent and its snappy response makes it a cool candidate for slalom runs. Which is why, you will happily overlook the under-steer and the irksome habit of correcting its line, now and then.
As for the drive, the Peugeot 208 GT Line is smart and sassy. The 1.6L turbo engine and the 4-speed automatic transmission favour those with a sporty bent and the 0-100 figure is a respectable sub-12 sec. However, it feels a lot quicker in the normal course, especially once the car has edged past the lower rpm cycles and beyond the third gear.
I must have mixed too much adrenaline with the fuel, the car returned only 8.18 kms per test litre. That isn’t great but the car did turn out to be sportier than I expected, to be fair.
The only disappointment regarding the transmission is that as I descended along the rims of the tachometer from the ride on the clouds, the driveline shunt and shuffle that I mentioned during my 208 review, showed up yet again. Shifting to sport mode doesn’t do much about it though it makes the climb more exciting.
Pitted against the old 207, the Peugeot 208 is rather big, like the Volkswagen Beetle of our age is. The 208 is a small car that comes across as quite spacious for everyday usage. Unlike the comfortable rear seat, the boot is perhaps the only place where the compactness shows.
There are some very interesting and practical features inside this car. To begin with, the new 7” touch-screen which comes with a complete menu of navigation, Bluetooth, radio and media. I guess it’s the French thing of keeping up with what’s in vogue because the CD has already made an exit from the music system.
The sunroof extends halfway up the rear seat, too. That presents you with quite an expanse of the sky above you but you might probably pull that close during summers, especially because there is no rear AC outlet as in most small cars.
If you consider the GT line as the top of the line 208 instead of pulling hair off the faux sports moustache, the hatch makes even more sense. For a happily handed out 5000 extra dirhams, Peugeot supplies the 208 GT Line with a host of features above the Active Plus trim. Side airbags, panoramic roof with mood lighting, navigation, tinted rear windows, auto headlights and wipers, fog lamps and befitting 17” wheels – a full inch bigger than the Active plus!
The 208 GT Line is a Peugeot, and it’s French, and therefore unsurpassed in style and quality. It might not be a hot track car, but with the snug steering and encouraging response, this 208 is so willing to go wherever you want to take it .