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I must admit when I took the wheel of the new Peugeot 208 GT Line, my memory flashed back to my first drive in the legendary 205 GTI. I recall vividly going to Dublin for the weekend and to the Phoenix Park Motor Races. Alas, we no longer have the Park races, but you could possibly still get your driving hands on a 205 GTI.

I got the same feel good with the newcomer as I did way back in 1984 when the 205GTI took to the road with its 1.6 litre petrol engine. It was the car that everyone desired, myself included. By the way, lack of funds prevented me from owning one, but I cherished the times I got to drive one and later a larger engined version arrived on the scene, but I still preferred the original.

In many ways, the 205 GTI lines up in my book along with the likes of the Golf GTI. There is no doubt the first 205 changed the fortunes of Peugeot. Up until then, the French carmaker was known for large saloons and popular estates and the arrival of the little hot hatch really did spell change and today the Peugeot range is one of the most stylish and desirable in the marketplace. Make no mistake, with such a car the initial focus just has to be as to what is under the bonnet and although there are a number of power choices, I focus on the 129bhp Puretech 130 petrol unit and while its ancestor relied on larger capacity engines, you may be surprised to learn that in this instance a it’s a 1.2 litre albeit aided by a turbocharger. I never stop to be amazed by the current trend of low capacity engines with impressive power outputs.

Driving pleasure is further enhanced with an eight speed automatic gearbox which I found was in perfect harmony, the end result, sheer driving pleasure. This hot hatch from Peugeot does pack quite a punch with rest to 100kph (62mph) taking under nine seconds and where legal a top speed just short of 210kph (130mph). However, using one of the three drive modes, Sport, I discovered that this flagship of the 208 range does sprint cleanly away and for more everyday driving, most will either opt for Normal or Eco modes. It is all down to the driver and to a particular taste. I must add the Sport mode can put a large smile on your face.

Economy and emissions, the CO2 figure is and I managed to achieve 6.01 L/100km (47mpg) for my week behind the wheel. I have little doubt, however, that using the non Sport modes, that figure could be improved on. The term supermini in my opinion is often misused, but not so with the 208 GT Line. With handling and road holding qualities to match the power package it delivers gives so much satisfaction, something often lacking today in several of its rivals. On winding country roads with challenging bends this Peugeot turned in smartly and safely, building confidence mile by mile. You will not fail to recognise this member of the Peugeot family as the GT line model has a number of distinguishing features. The exterior is on a sporty theme with the appropriate badging and I have to say it is not overdone, which perhaps is no bad idea.

Moving to the well appointed interior and you are greeted by that sporty theme, very comfy rally style seats and a large touch screen which delivers all the connectivity you are ever likely to need. Like so many current Peugeot models, a small, sports style steering wheel. Ease of use of all the controls and easy read instrumentation are further standout features; all of this adds to a very complete package. The 205 GTI never had such features in abundance, but the sports like performance and road holding are common factors as the 208 GT Line carries on the Peugeot tradition of small hot hatches. Already many awards have come the way of the 208, such as European Car of the Year in which it triumphed by a comfortable margin over the Tesla Model 3. I am quite sure many more awards will follow.

Ian Lynas

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