PEUGEOT 208 GTi 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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Back in 1984 Peugeot re-wrote the book on hot hatches when it released the 205 GTi, a lightweight three-door that quickly became the benchmark for its growing number of rivals and led to a revival by the iconic French carmaker. By the time the first 205 GTi arrived in Australia in 1987 its fame had preceded it and keen local drivers quickly grabbed them up.

Peugeot GTi variants were subsequently included as the little Pug evolved through the 206, 207 and 208 models but none quite captured the excitement of the original.

To celebrate the three decades of the GTi, Peugeot has now released a 30th Anniversary limited edition version of the 208 GTi.

Developed by the company’s motorsport division, Peugeot Sport, the 30th Anniversary edition is based on the standard 208 GTi but with numerous enhancements. The most noticeable, where optioned at $4000, is a paint treatment that’s unlike anything else on the road. Called ‘Coupe Franche’ it combines a matte black finish from the front to near the back of the rear windows with a bright red gloss paint from there to the back of the car.

Standard metallic gloss colours are either Alpine White and Le Mans Red. All models have ‘208 GTI 30th’ badging on the rear three-quarter panel and wheels.

Inside there are well-bolstered Peugeot Sport black bucket seats with Alcantara trim and red stitching and a small flat-bottomed sports steering wheel. Each model has its build number on a plate mounted on the roof headlining.

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Under the bonnet the standard 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine has been replaced with a THP (turbo high-pressure) unit of the same capacity but one that increases power from 147 to 153 kW and torque from 275 to 300 Nm. The new engine cuts the zero to 100 km/h time from 6.8 to 6.5 seconds while reducing CO2 emissions from 139 grams per kilometre to 125 g/km.

Not surprisingly it comes only with six-speed manual gearbox that drives the front wheels. It uses the same design of Torsen limited-slip differential that’s used in the Peugeot RCZ R. The electronic stability program, traction control and steering have all been recalibrated to optimise the handling benefits of the Torsen set-up.

Other improvements include a wider track; lowered suspension; new damper settings and spring rates; and 18-inch matte black alloy wheels with grey rear calipers.

To demonstrate the added benefits of the new 30th Anniversary model, Peugeot Australia took us out to Sydney Motorsport Park (nee Eastern Creek Raceway) and let us run comparison tests between it and the standard 208 GTI. The differences are quite noticeable. The suspension is stiffer and the steering sharper and more direct; while the new Torsen differential increases traction while reducing torque steer.

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The various enhancements add $5000 to the price of the standard GTI, lifting it to $35,990 (on-road costs have to be added on both models). Whether that surcharge is justified is problematic because – and here’s the bad news – only 500 models were built and, of these, just 26 were sent to Australia. At last report only four remained.

Among the eventual 26 owners we’re sure that many will be former 205 GTi drivers keen to re-visit the driving fun that the little Pugs gave them in their youth.

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