Back in 1987, somehow I managed to have climbed far enough up the corporate ladder to qualify for my very own choice of company car, within a budget of around £9k. This was a rare privilege as lower down a choice of 2 or 3 cars was the norm. In those days £9k would buy a selection of very desirable cars. For me the choice was easy; a Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi in dark grey metallic paint. At the time, the 1.6 version had become a very acceptable alternative to the Golf GTi among Maggie’s Yuppie generation not to mention the Hoorah Henrys and Sloane Rangers. But the 1.9, now that was very special. Grin Factor, that’s what it had…by the bucketful.
So, despite the lame guitar riff fanfare of the somewhat lame Peugeot TV ad, I was eager to see if the Grin Factor was reborn in the 2013 Peugeot 208 GTi. Black with red detailing, with a similarly hued interior, the demonstrator at CDG-CARS.com looked every inch the son (or is it grandson?) of my old “one point nine”.
My drive was to Heathrow and back and was rewarding, very rewarding, especially when I ventured off the M25 on the return journey. Just like the 80s car, this descendent was made for twisty roads; ultra sharp steering and ultra sharp throttle response all bundled with a super slick gear change. Did it have Grin factor? Yes, but the new car is soooo much more sophisticated in every single way; from cabin comfort to progressive power, touch screen sat nav to full auto air con. That level of sophistication is what makes it a very usable, fast and fun car for a new generation. For die hard 1980s born-again GTi fans they’ll miss some of the raw go-kart feel, but that should be more than made up for by the comfort and extra power.