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The new 208 GTi will restore Peugeot to the hot hatch podium, says an expectant source brimming with enthusiasm for the project. More power, less weight and an overhauled chassis aim to banish the memory of the underwhelming 207 GTi.

The standard 208 has had a mixed response since its launch earlier this year with criticism of the steering and handling. Whether the GTi version will be any different remains to be seen, but it does come with revised suspension, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars while there's an enhanced front subframe and a more rigid rear crossmember. The steering has been made firmer plus there are 17-inch alloy wheels with 205/45 tyres. There's also a 10mm wider track at the front and 20mm wider at the back.

As you'd expect of a GTi, the 208 gets a sportier look, athough it's still fairly subtle. There's a mesh grille along with different bumpers and side skirts. At the back there's a gloss black rear skirt with trapezoid twin exhausts plus there are red highlights on the brake calipers, lower grille and Peugeot badges. Inside the 208 GTi continues the theme with red stitching on the seats and dash plus red trim throughout. The sports seats are a Nappa leather and cloth combination while there are also aluminium pedals.

It’s also got outstanding ergonomics, decent handling and a thick-rimmed small size steering wheel, just like those fitted to racing cars.

It should provide a good base for a GTi model and given Peugeot’s recent inertia, it had better.

Preliminary 208 sales are encouraging. After only a month since first launching in Europe, the Peugeot 208 has already put in excellent sales performances across Europe.

To put the model’s success into perspective, PSA Peugeot Citroen achieved 115 per cent of its business objectives for the period, with over 35,000 orders taken across 10 countries. Peugeot 208 sales also contributed largely to the company’s best sales figures in over 18 months in the popular B segment.

The really good news for Peugeot is that the mix of orders included an uptake of over 55 per cent for the premium trim versions of Allure and Féline, contributing to yet more attractive margins for the French carmaker.

The cooking 208 has a refreshingly French chassis set-up, with the pseudo-MacPherson strut front, rear beam and anti-roll bars tuned to allow noticeable roll. The result is ride comfort far superior to the German hegemony, of draconian body control and crashy 'sporty' ride, although the 208 still generates decent grip and holds its line well.

'The GTi will be more sporty and less comfortable than the normal 208, but we will preserve the notion of comfort,' said our source. 'On the test track we are achieving a good compromise.' There are extensive revisions up front, with the engine mounts stiffened to boost front end precision and stability. The GTi also gets a revised front subframe and a wider track to cope with the increased power, bespoke damping and other measures to increase stiffness. The wheels measure 18-inches in diameter.
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