It was less than a year ago that the Peugeot 208, the French carmaker’s most popular model, was given a mild upgrade. Making its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the facelifted supermini received a redesigned front and rear, refreshed interior with some added kit, and a new GT Line trim. This new variant, which brings many of the design attributes of the feisty 208 GTi to the regular hatchback version, is here in the UAE now.
Based on the top-spec Allure trim, the GT Line package adds a new bumper, wider grille with gloss black surrounds – which the carmaker calls Equaliser – and an extra smattering of chrome on the front. The new headlights are flanked by daytime running lights, while the restyled tail lights also get LEDs.
Other styling features that distinguish the GT Line from the standard Allure version include black front fog lamp finishers and gloss black wing mirrors, chrome window surrounds, a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe, 17in alloy wheels, and special badging on the grille, front wings and the tailgate.
Inside, you get snug-fit black sports seats with red contrast stitching, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, soft weave finish on the dashboard, as well as aluminium pedals and door sill plates. The red-and-black treatment is extended to the seat belts and the door handles. These changes do lend the cabin a decidedly more premium ambience than a regular 208’s passenger cell. The panoramic roof (with LED mood lighting running along the edges) adds to the overall feeling of airiness inside; however, you’d be better off keeping it closed during summer months as the AC takes its sweet time cooling the cabin, especially the rear.
Apart from these GT Line-specific changes, the model also gets all the tech goodies available in the Allure trim, like automatic headlights and wipers, front fog lamps, electrical foldable door mirrors, satnav, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing camera and dual-zone air conditioning. The safety aspect is taken care of with driver, passenger and side airbags coming as standard.
Any resemblance to the 208 GTi ends there though, as the GT Line drives like any other 208 in the model range. If you get carried away by the GT pretensions and expect it to behave like a hot hatch, you’re going to be disappointed.
Powered by the same naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-pot as the other 208s, it isn’t the quickest off the line, either. The engine note is gruff and sounds strained under acceleration, while the four-speed automatic’s shifts are jumpy and erratic. There’s an annoying whine from the engine when the revs are between 2,000 and 2,500rpm, which disappears once it settles at cruising speeds. The Sport button beside the gear shifter, when pressed, firms up the steering a bit, but not much else to alter how the transmission behaves.
But that’s not to say this is a dull car to drive. The small, flat-bottomed steering wheel is a pleasure to hold, and makes tight manoeuvres a lot easier. The suspension is well sorted and keeps the car flat through corners. The ride quality is very good at highway speeds, and road and wind noise is kept within acceptable levels. Moreover, the cabin is surprisingly roomy for a car of this size, and accommodates four adults in comfort.
The GT Line makes sense only if you approach it as just a style trim rather than a performance variant. At Dh71,500, it costs Dh8,000 more than the Active Plus variant, but adds a host of features that aren’t available in the latter. If you’ve already zeroed in on a 208, then the GT Line is undoubtedly the most stylish variant of the lot. But with the facelifted Access trim going for as little as Dh55,900, it’s up to you to decide whether style is worth that difference.