When I had the Peugeot 308 GT Line on test, I knew it would be a good car, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. I’ve had many press cars now, and the 308 was the first one my wife said would be a welcome addition to the family. When its smaller sibling, the Peugeot 208 GT Line was scheduled I expected it to be a great little car – I was not disappointed. It’s now the second French offering my wife wanted to keep. I loved my week with the car; I didn’t want my time with it to end, even trying to think up reasons to give Peugeot so they’d let me keep it longer. At the same time, if the car didn’t go back when it did it would have been the reason I bit someone in the face. If one more person looked at the car and commented on how cool everything is – the build, the quality, the looks, the interior, the specs – and then ended off their inspection with: “But it’s French…” I would have been in trouble for my reaction.
It’s a great looking car, especially in this optional (R3200-00) Ice Silver paint. It’s a matte finish and a little rough to the touch, but it’s easy to keep clean, just like normal paint. The only drawback to it would be getting little nicks and scratches, on normal paint you can usually polish it out but that won’t fare too well on this paint. It’s not a train smash though, that’s what insurance and paint shops are for.
The GT Line features styling cues filtered down from the daddy GTI model, and they make for a very pretty little car. The front grille has a new gloss black ‘Equalizer’ grille that has a red 3D marking stamped in, a nice touch over normal painted accents There’s a chrome bezel finishing it off. There’s also some chrome over the fog lights, around the windows and also the tail pipe to keep the theme going. The side mirrors are finished in Perla Nera black, basically gloss, and they’re a great contrast on the matt paint. GT Line badges and red Peugeot lettering also help differentiate the car from the rest of the range. One of my favourite things on the GT Line is the new 17-inch Caesium diamante wheels; that little red piece on a single spoke is great.
The interior rocks, it’s like a comfortable high-tech cocoon. The seats are great, proper sports style with high side bolsters and red stitching, height adjustable too (manually). The red theme is carried out on the nice and small multi-function, flat bottom, leather steering wheel, door trims and handbrake lever. Here’s also a red line through the seat belts, a cool little detail. Pedals are drilled ally. Peugeot’s infotainment system is pretty intuitive, you can use external apps and Peugeot apps, as well as browse the net if you set the system up to a Wi-Fi network on the 7-inch touch screen. You can access a bunch of the car’s running data and play with a host of settings. The audio side is very good, banged out all the tunes needed over the Bluetooth connection to my phone. The instrument cluster also looks great and shows a lot of relevant driving info. On this one the gauges read in odd numbers, something I like more than I should.
The drive is brilliant, it’s smooth, it’s quiet and the car handles like something that should be a sports range-topper. I took a few people for a drive; the first question that popped up was about the motor, if the car had the punch to match the looks. In all cases I said that they must tell me what size motor is up front. Not one person guessed right, and none of them believed what it was when I told them after the drive. Peugeot’s award-winning 1.2 Pure Tech SS is in play, the turbocharged 3-cylinder lump makes a very impressive 81kW and 205Nm. This is enough to get the car to 100km/h in 9.8-seconds and a 190km/h top speed. Sure that’s not hot-hatch territory but it feels fantastic. The 6-speed auto ‘box has perfect gearing and is silky smooth. In Sport mode it holds the revs high in the gear instead of up shifting, this makes you want to drive like a track racer. It also blips the throttle when you come off the gas and slow down with the gearing, keeping the car poised to accelerate quickly again.
I don’t care what kind of a mental block you have on French cars, for whatever reason. This car is very good, and it’s already in a competitive segment with great offerings from the other manufacturers, it’s just not fair that it has to fight a stigma that’s been passed down by old uncles and friends of friends who’s grandmother’s 2nd cousin twice removed’s pool man’s French car had some or other unfathomable, irreparable issue. This Peugeot 208 GT Line deserves at least a test drive before you discount it as a purchase. I loved this car, in every way, as did my wife as I mentioned. I could easily rock this as a daily. You could too.