For us North Americans, the Peugeot 205 GTi has little or no significance, especially since it was never sold here and the last Pug we could get our hands on was the 405 Mi16 back in 1992.
In Europe however, the 205 GTi, produced from 1984-94 is revered; a sharp handling overachiever of a hot hatch that was inexpensive to own and tremendous fun to drive. Following its demise, Peugeot tried to capture the car’s quintessential spirit with the 206 and 207 GTi models, though these cars never achieved the same cult status as the original.
With the new 208, that replaces the 207 for the 2012 model year and the 30th anniversary of the 205 GTi not far off, perhaps now is as good a time as any to introduce a true successor to the original, much like VW has done with its own hot hatch. The Peugeot 208 GTi concept, revealed at Geneva, plays heavily on the old 205 theme, not only in the side glass window treatment, but also the brushed aluminum appliqué on each rear quarter panel.
Other distinguishing exterior features on the 208 GTi concept include a special front fascia, rocker panel extensions, rear deck spoiler and dual chrome exhaust tips. Inside, sport bucket seats upholstered in Nappa leather with tartan inserts, plus a dash trimmed in Alcantara, along with a black headliner, leather wrapped steering wheel and aluminum pedals, help convey the sporty theme.
Under the hood is a RCZ 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine cranking out 200 horsepower, teamed with a six-speed manual gearbox, while a wide track, big alloy wheels and low profile performance tires round things off. Finished in attention grabbing red paint the 208 GTi concept was definitely one of the highlights of the Geneva show and there’s little doubt a production version will materialize, though it would be cool if it debuts as a 2014 model, to coincide with the 205 GTi’s 30th birthday.
As for North American sales, don’t get your hopes up, though if this new Peugeot-GM alliance thing really gets going, there’s a chance we might again see cars with Lion badges sitting in stateside showrooms. If that day comes, we hope there’s a little GTi hatchback among them.