The Volkswagen Polo GTI’s present in the local compact hot hatch market has been a very comfortable one. With zero direct rivals when it went on sale, the Polo GTI was Malaysians’ only choice when looking for a compact hot hatch. Not anymore, with the recent local launch of the long awaited Peugeot 208 GTi!
Revealed in one of the latest Peugeot showrooms located in Old Klang Road, the 208 GTi was launched in conjunction with the official opening of the showroom. Speaking of the showroom, this particular Peugeot showroom allows huge amounts of natural light into the showroom, perhaps a bit more than we’d prefer as it was really warm.
Enough about the showroom, I’m sure we are all only interested in the car. As many of you should know by now, the 208 GTi is powered by the familiar 1.6 liter turbocharged petrol engine shared among many other cars such as the MINI range as well as latest Citroën models, not to mention the other models in the Peugeot range.
Yes the engine is widely used in many cars, but in the case of the 208 GTi, you get a substantial 200 hp instead of the sub-160 hp tune in other cars. Producing an equally impressive torque of 275 Nm, the GTi can accelerate from 0 – 100 kmh of just 6.8 seconds before achieving a top speed of 230 kmh.
For aesthetics and performance reasons (more of the former), the 208 GTi will only be produced in 3-door guise even though the standard 208 is available in 5-door form. Can’t blame them, at the much more sleeker looking 3-door sure better presents the performance credential of the GTi.
The GTi gets additional sporty touches to its already attractive body, namely the unmistakable “GTi” badge on each side of the C-pillar and also unique “C” shaped indicator lights. More subtle but nice-to-have details includes the chequered flag-esque design on the front grille as well as inside the headlight clusters.
As for the interior, the most substantial changes are to be found in the seats. The standard front seats are now replaced by body-hugging, almost bucket-like sport seats wrapped in part leather, part fabric with embossed “GTi” logo.
Red and black is the theme for the day. You can find red stitchings on the seats, dashboard and steering wheel. You will also notice the pretty cool looking red-fading-to-black effect on the air-con surrounds as well as the door grab handles.
The interior is a pleasant place to be. The body-hugging seats does exactly that and provides much more lateral support than the ones in the Polo GTI. I gave the rear seats a try and I was very surprised that I could get myself pretty comfortable with sufficient legroom as well as inches of headroom to spare.
If you have read or watched reviews of the 208 hatchback, I’m sure you have noticed that some reviewers complain about the steering wheel getting in the way of reading the speed gauges. After personally putting this myth to test, I can safely say that it is unfortunately true.
Make no mistake, Peugeot’s latest steering wheel looks and feels great to hold. It is unconventionally smaller than your average wheel, and yet, get used to the 208’s steering wheel and any other steering wheel you use would feel unnecessary oversized.
It comes as no surprise that the smaller steering wheel further contributes to its nimble character, but I am very surprised that the people from Peugeot did not fix the design flaw of not being able to read the gauges which I’m sure they noticed. Perhaps due to financial reasons.
However to most, that slight issue will not deter them away from buying this very appealing French hot hatch. With an on-the-road price of RM139,888, the 208 GTi is not only cheaper, but also look more stunning, and also equally if not more well-equipped than its main German rival. The Polo GTI will no longer sleep well…