Last year we drove Peugeot’s latest hot hatch weapon, the 208 GTi. Whilst it was very good it fell a little short when put up against the current crop of fast hatchbacks.
But, Peugeot have handed the keys over to Peugeot Sport, the same arm that developed the RCZ R.
This time however it’s called a 30th Anniversary model. It boasts an extra 8 HP – making a total of 208…gimmicky – and a slight increase in torque to 300 Nm.
But the real juicy bits are the widened track, stiffer suspension, Torsen differential and revised steering. The electronic safety net has also been toned down to be less intrusive.
All this is yours for the princely sum of £21,995.
Externally the changes may seem subtle. Gone is the bright chrome work in favor of matte black.
Paint choices of the 800 models are the black/red ‘Coupe Franche’, Satin White and Rioja Red.
Lowered by 10mm over the standard GTi the 30th sits on custom matte black 18” alloy wheels, and adorned with black skirting.
The Red and Black Coupe Franche design isn’t for us, it’s a little lairy and boy racery.
But, get one in white and it looks stunning! The matte black detailing and those arches frame the white paintwork beautifully.
I actually want one it looks that good! Sadly, only 20 white models will be sold in the UK.
Getting into the 208 GTi 30th we had flashbacks of how Peugeot Sport radically transformed the RCZ, was that a one hit wonder?
Thankfully, no. Driving the 208 GTI on track and then the 30th back to back the difference is astounding.
Mainly, this is thanks to the limited slip diff fitted up front, you can now get the power down mid corner without any tire scrabble at all. Push to the limits and you can hear the diff whirring beneath you, finding the grip that 300 Nm of torque desires.
You can really drive through the corner, on full power, without the car pushing wide – as you often find the standard GTi doing.
Braking has also been greatly improved thanks to the Brembo sourced – Peugeot Sport branded – 4 pot calipers. Pedal feel isn’t massively different but the ability to come to a stop quicker, and more controlled is vast.
No doubt the ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sports aided the situation – especially in the icy, damp conditions we found on track at Circuit De L’ouest early one morning.
Through the corners there is less body roll than the standard 208 GTi. It isn’t completely omitted, but then this is still meant to be a useable, everyday car, so it isn’t overly stiff but strikes a compromising balance.
Peugeot Sport have widened the front track by 22mm and the rear by 16. Coupling this with stiffer springs and dampers it really firms everything up just enough.
The steering has been tweaked too, and the new set-up makes the GTi 30th seem nimble and subtly more connected than its forbearer.
Put one in the hands of Gregory Guilvert – Peugeot test driver and Sebastien Loeb’s right hand man – and you can do this with it!
Once inside you initially set your eyes upon the “newly developed“ bucket seat. They aren’t new at all…in fact it’s the very same seat you would have seen in the 206 GTI 180 and the 207 GTi….a little disappointing. They are also nowhere near hugging enough, especially on track.
It ‘s a great shame as it lets the car down slightly. With the increase in performance and rigidity the 30th edition deserves some really rock solid proper racing seats. Even some off the shelf Recaros would be better than the floppy sided ones currently installed.
At the back you get a set of new circular exhaust tips, they seem to give the 208 more of a parp than the original.
Moving on to the dash all of the standard red to black GTi trim has been changed to gloss black, And above the interior light you find a numbered plaque denoting this cars specialty.
Oh, and you also get some very desirable red Peugeot Sport car mats.
Apart from that everything is standard GTI trim, it doesn’t feel very special when sitting inside. The seats make it a step up over the original 208 GTi but there are no massive differences.
An Alcantara wheel wouldnt’ve gone a miss, along with matching centre console trim, aluminum gear knob and matching handbrake….just something to make it stand out.
Peugeot’s new 208 GTi 30th Anniversary is how the 208 GTi should have been from the start! If Peugeot Sport are this good at developing handling and tweaking performance why Peugeot don’t get them involved from the ground up is beyond belief.
Is it worth the extra cash? As a limited production model I will say yes. Hopefully in 20 years time they should be as collectible as the fabled Rallye heritage.
But, this is how the 208 GTi should be in standard guise, and having driven the limited run 208 30th it shows Peugeot could well have retaken the hot hatch crown once again.
Instead, the Fiesta ST garners that award….for now.
Peugeot 208 Gti 30th – Awesome diff, stiffer set up, disappointing seats, looks best in white.
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter