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The Peugeot 208 GTI is not as good as the 205 GTI. This is a good thing.

Whenever Peugeot releases a new GTI version of its smallest car we get very excited and exclaim, "The 205 GTI is back!!" It isn't. It can't be. Stop saying that. The 208 GTI is, thankfully, a very good car in spite of its ancestry.

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I've never driven a Peugeot 205 GTI. I fear that if I do I'll become a gibbering, simpering mess. You see, those who have driven it appear to love it so very much that they wish to put parts of them in the smaller, more intimate parts of the car. It is so good, according to many, that it'll change the way you think about cars and even life itself.

The clamour to replace the 205 with a more modern car is great. Why wouldn't you want a second coming? But there's been a problem with that. Every GTI following has been a bit shy of the bar set by the original.

With the likes of the MINI Cooper S, Polo GTI, et al, besting the French rockets, Peugeot saw fit to ditch all things GTI in the latter half of the last decade and concentrate on making less racy cars.

Thankfully, Peugeot decided that leaving the GTI name to gather dust was a terrible idea, and decided to give the 208 a new heart. However, Peugeot didn't decide to chase its own past. Instead it did something clever -- create a car that's luxurious and pretty brisk. It's not hardcore, it's not covered in carbon fibre and it's not covered in unnecessary bits of plastic. It looks good. Tidy, even. And it is fast.

As a result of this, it's subtle and a good giggle. Its suspension is comfortable, rather than "hardcore." The 208 GTI doesn't punish you for wanting to have fun.

All in all, this new GTI is a cracking little car. One for those who want speed but don't want to avoid speed bumps in case they knacker their spines. It's no 205 GTI. And that's a good thing.

Engine 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Power 197 bhp
Torque 203 lb. ft.
0-62 mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed    143 mph