The weight of the hot hatch world is on Peugeot's shoulders. It has some truly great examples of the genre in its history, including the (not far off iconic) 205 GTi. That's the car Peugeot hopes to emulate with its latest, the 208 GTi. A thinly veiled 'concept' version will be on display at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
At first glance it seems to be a car lead by its design. Building on the attractive shape of the new Peugeot 208, the GTi adds plenty of hot hatch detailing, with a chequered flag look to the radiator grille, stylish front fog lights, large alloys, a roof spoiler, deeper bumpers and side sills and wheelarch extensions. Capping it all off are prominent 'GTi' logos on the trailing edge of the side glass - just like the Peugeot 205 GTi.
The interior of the 208 GTi concept is a world away from that of the 205's though. Grey Alcantara swathes the contemporary dashboard, which itself houses a massive infotainment screen. The seats are soft Nappa leather, which also trims the compact three-spoke steering wheel. Other bespoke touches include more of that chequered flag motif and plenty of red and black detailing.
Unsurprisingly, Peugeot reveals that the 208 GTi concept is powered by the THP 200 engine used in the RCZ coupé. Developed in conjunction with MINI, this 1.6-litre turbocharged unit puts out 200hp and 275Nm of torque. In the GTi it's allied to a six-speed manual gearbox and no doubt will feed power to the front wheels. The only other clues to the new car's dynamics are a set of big brakes and a 36mm wider track. The lower weight of the 208 (in comparison to the 207) should mean impressive performance and economy.
The 208 GTi concept will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show on March 6th, alongside another 208 concept - called the XY - featuring a luxurious interior. We may have to wait until the Paris Motor Show in October to see the production version of the Peugeot 208 GTi.
Shane O' Donoghue - 17 Feb 2012