It’s said to be good luck should a bird happen to do its business just as it’s flying over your head. If that is indeed the case, then MOTOR’s new Peugeot 208 GTi long-termer and I should be in for a very successful relationship. Thankfully, it was the car, not me, that copped the aerial attack.
Having picked up the car from Peugeot dealer Regan Motors, it was parked under a tree near the office, which was apparently home to a flock of Renault fans, as by the time we left for the day, the 208 was in a right state. I swear, birds must have been diverting from their migratory flights for the opportunity to take a dump on the poor Pug, it was that bad.
An unpleasant start for CTG 49F, but a quick trip through a carwash and the introductory period could begin.
So why’s it here? Well, the 208 had the unfortunate luck of arriving on the market at about the same time as the Fiesta ST, which has proved itself to be one of the most fun cars of modern times. Ford’s baby gave the 208 GTi a bloody nose in a comparison in our December 2013 issue, and repeated the drubbing at last year’s PCOTY, finishing third to the Pug’s ninth.
But burrowing away in the back of our minds was the suspicion the 208’s talents might not reveal themselves fully in the quick-burn comparison environment – here’s its chance to prove itself. First impressions are that our suspicions were correct. Having just returned a long-term Fiesta ST – Morley still won’t talk to us – we’re perfectly poised to compare the two on a day-to-day basis.
As fun as the Ford is, its frenetic nature can occasionally be wearing; the Peugeot’s calmer demeanour is paying dividends at this early stage. The softer suspension setup that costs it during max-attack motoring is proving its worth on the daily commute, rounding off the worst of irregularities Melbourne’s roads can serve up.
At $30,470 as-tested ($480 for metallic paint), the Peugeot asks for a hefty premium over the Fiesta, but the interior ambience justifies the extra spend. The seats are comfy, the seven-inch multimedia touch screen keeps the button count to a minimum and there are nice touches everywhere like the contrasting red stitching on the seats, steering wheel, gearshift boot and dash; red illuminated rings surrounding the dials, and the way the plastic fades from a rich red to a deep black on the door handles and screen surround.
But it’s not all so hunky dory. The glove box may be chilled but it’s also so small it’s pretty much useless, the alloy gearknob is so cold in a Melbourne winter it burns to touch and then there’s the driving position, but expect more on that in a future update.
Arriving with just 577km on the clock, the 208’s early use has been pretty gentle. The handbook doesn’t specify the need for any running-in procedure, but old-school mechanical sympathy is preventing the upper reaches of the tachometer being explored before the odo ticks over to at least four figures.
This is frustrating, as even with limited rpm the 208 is a rapid machine. We’ll investigate this feisty powerplant in more detail next month.
This article was originally published in MOTOR October 2014.