Peugeot 208 GTI An Owners Review
Why the Peugeot 208 GTI
It is 2017 and I needed to change my commute from train to central London to that of a 70-mile round trip up the M25. Not sure what was worse parking on the M25 in the rush hour or squeezing into an overcrowded late running train but those were the brakes. (excuse the pun) Anyway, my daily at that point was a Subaru 3.0L R spec B and even at 2017 fuel prices this was going to be a costly exercise. Also, I wanted to keep the miles low on the Subaru. However, I did not want a boring drive so started to consider various hot hatch options and the Peugeot 208 GTI ticked the most boxes of a car that provided decent performance, fuel economy and purchase price. Fortunately (for reasons later explained) not having owned a Peugeot before and being cautious about the make, (had heard about timing chain issues more later) thought it would be best to buy from a main dealer and get a dealer backed warranty. I found a nice grey, 2013, one owner 16,000 miles car.
I quite liked the look of the GTI, The curvy lives and detailing are accentuated by the GTI’s chunkier bumpers, with nice 17-inch alloys, red brake callipers and chrome twin exhausts. It looked quite sporty but not so in your face as some of the other options. With the interior the sporty theme continued inside the 208 GTI, with stitched leather finishes for the dashboard and door trims, heavily bolstered part-leather sports seats with some soft touch plastics. For that time the touch-screen infotainment system was also is very unintuitive. I loved the small steering wheel but others complain it obscures the instrument panel. I guess this all comes down to a personal driving position and for some people it would be annoying. For me I found the cabin a generally nice place to be and well put together.
Driving the 208 GTI & Practicality
I found the car quite practical to for a small hatch with about 285 litres of space with the seats up and plenty of room for the fishing tackle, suit case etc seats down. The front seats seemed rather fiddly to get back into the right place after folding down for rear seat access but that is only a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.
The driving experience was actually quite a surprise and far more fun than I had expected. To be honest it most likely felt faster than it actually was but the grip was good with very little torque steer. It cornered well and handled changes of direction without getting too unsettled, meaning some fun could be had on twisty b roads. On the motorway it cruised well and had enough power in most gears to accelerate for an over-take. I was actually quite surprised how little turbo lag the car had.
The most surprising thing for me about the GTI was the fuel economy giving the best part of 200 horse power on tap and a 0 to 60 of around 6.8 seconds, I was not expecting to be able to achieve over 40 mpg on long runs. In fact, I do not think it even dropped below 35 mpg even when giving her some stick.
What went wrong
Before I go into the issues I had with the car, I have to be fair and say she never actually broke down and left me stranded on the M25 as each issue was brought to my attention by a loud chime and an EML warning resulting in limp home mode.
I guess most of you reading this will already know the 208 GTI has the 1.6L THP (Turbo Haute Pression) engine, also known by its codename “Prince“. The Prince engines were developed by PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) in close collaboration with BMW that sought to create a “next-generation” 4-cylinder engine. The 16L THP engine is also therefore found in some minis of that era and potential timing chain issues and carbon build up on the valves are all well documented in cars using the THP engine at around this time. However, most of my research prior to purchase showed this did not seem to be so much of an issue for some reason with the Peugeot so I was prepared to take a chance giving a manufacturer used car warranty. Interestingly the issues I did have did not relate to either of these problems.
After about 6 months of ownership, I had my first EML and limp home experience fortunately close to home. I arranged the dealer to have a look and was provided with a loan car. It seemed that the high-pressure fuel pump had failed and the car had to be inspected for the dealer to get the repair approved. 3 days later I have call to say the repair has been approved under warranty and to collect the car by the end of the week. The repair would have been around £1,000 – Phew glad I had the warranty. Told when I collected the car a weld had parted on the exhaust bracket which is a common failure and officially told I would need a new exhaust. Unofficially the service guy said best bet get it welded but they cannot do it at the dealership. It was not rattling or loose and not an MOT failure so I left it at the point.
All good for about another 7 Months from the first failure when Ching I am presented with another EML light and limp home mode. Back to the dealer and a faulty coil pack was diagnosed and repair authorisation under warranty was given over the phone to the dealer and repair carried out.
We are now February 2019 and 29,000 miles on the clock and yes you guessed it EML and limp home. I thought O well another coil pack and dually left the car at the dealer. A call from the dealer reveals we will need to call in the warranty inspector as the code displayed is a major engine fault. What are we talking about I enquire? The fault code relates to a Peugeot 208 GTI TSB (technical Service bulletin) he says which indicates a complete top end engine rebuild. Gulp! Am I covered under the warranty? “Yes, you should be we need the inspection to confirm”. “However, you are the second one we have had at similar mileage and they were covered.” The dealer provided another loan car and within a week the car was inspected and the warranty repair approved which was a £4,100 repair! It left me wondering how many more cars out there will have the same fault or had I and the other car the dealer mentioned, just been the unlucky ones?
This is a quick little car and is fun to own with surprisingly low running costs both in terms of fuel and servicing. However, as far as the Prince THP engine is concerned, without the good dealer support I received, and this backed up by a first-class Peugeot used car warranty, this all would have been a different story. Of course, I may have been unlucky but anyone considering this car I would strongly advise a very comprehensive warranty to be on the safe side from any unpleasant surprises.
I traded the car in September 2020 and was pleasantly surprised that the residual values had held up well on the 208 GTI and I did not have any further issues following the engine re-build.