Keeping with Peugeot's long standing history of giving their diminutively sized three doors a tickle up, Peugeot has added the letters GTi to the current model 206. It now boasts 180 horsepower (134kW).
For those not particularly phased by the go-fast connotations, the 206GTi will still appeal, and most will agree it's much prettier to look at than the four door 206 variants.
The body-kitted 206 sits atop big 17-inch wheels placed at each corner's extremity. Sporty touches include a rear roof spoiler, race-styled aluminium fuel filler cap and faux carbon fibre accents on the wing mirrors.
Don't be surprised to find face prints on your windows; the interior styling is as cool as the exterior.
Deep bucket seating front and rear replicate race seats in their appearance and functionality.
The heavily bolstered sides hug your body firmly, minimising lateral movement. Upholstery quality was second to none for the price bracket, using a fresh and attractive combination of leather, Apicula mesh (a funky synthetic material similar to wetsuit foam) and micro suede, which adorns the seating, door trims and even the glove box lid.
A spherical alloy gear knob adds a final racy factor to the interior. Despite the comfortable and supportive seating however, a truly comfortable driving position is seemingly impossible. Limited adjustment of the steering column meant the wheel always felt too horizontal.
It might also be an idea to keep a spare set of sneakers on-board also, as the pedals are extremely close together, some concentration must be devoted to feet positioning when driving in business shoes.
The close confinement of the foot well also caused the left foot to occasionally press against the steering column when the clutch pedal is depressed.
Rear occupant room is minimal, seating positions are provided for a maximum of two people only while head and legroom have also been compromised in the 206's two-door form. None of this will matter to GTi purchasers though. It is accepted that space is an expendable commodity, especially when it's replaced with huge, suede covered sports seats.
The 206 GTi lives up to its pocket rocket looks. The 134kW is produced at a 7000 rpm and launches the hot hatch to a claimed 0-100kmh in 7.4 seconds. It doesn't punch your eyeballs into the back of your skull but it's certainly no escargot.
The 1997cc engine provides maximum torque at 4750 rpm and is at its best higher in the rev range. After 3500 rpm the engine feels crisp and responsive to throttle inputs and pulls convincingly. The positive shifting and close ratio gearbox was matched perfectly to the powerplant, maximising performance by keeping the revs in their optimum range. The only disadvantage of the shorter gearing was a 3500 cruising rpm at 100km/h in top gear.
Despite this high ratio Peugeot claim a top speed of 228 km/h can be obtained from the hot hatch, along with fuel economy of 8.8 litres per 100km on average.
Going round corners is a specialty of the Peugeot thanks in part to sports-tuned suspension and low profile Pirelli tyres. The firm suspension will be welcomed by driving enthusiasts when they hit their favourite stretch of twisting tarmac.
Front wheel drive vehicles naturally want to understeer, but oddly the 206 keeps it's line and remains flat through bends. The biggest issues in drivability are torque steer under hard acceleration and bumps and potholes being reverberated through the seat and steering column, this would soon become tedious in everyday driving.
The 206 GTi carries the maximum safety features available to the 206 range and includes six airbags and Electronic stability program. Storage is adequate for the average shopping requirements, thanks to the lack of a spare wheel.
An emergency puncture repair kit is mounted in the boot in lieu of the additional wheel. The bucket rear seating does fold to allow larger carrying capabilities but doesn't create a flat load floor.
Practicality and ride comfort are merely secondary functions so this must be a consideration when purchasing. The standard kit includes handy features such as fog lamps, heated mirrors, and rain sensing wipers. But it's the 'Grand Touring' aspect that will sell this car. For sheer fun and aesthetics the 206 GTi is hard to beat at this end of the market.