By Mike Torpey on 2015-12-29 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Peugeot 208 THP 156
THE full-on hot hatch experience of the upcoming Peugeot 208 GTi may not be up everybody's street but those wanting sporty style with a hefty extra kick haven't been ignored.
As a taster for what lies ahead in early summer there's an engine boasting some serious punch in its own right - the 1.6-litre THP 156 unit reserved for three-door 208 models and only in high-spec Feline trim.
Headline figures of 0-62 in 8.1 secs and a potential top speed 134mph while still returning a useful 48.7 miles per gallon certainly aren't to be sniffed at.
And slick touches like twin exhausts, an extended roof spoiler, two-tone alloys and a retro-style small steering wheel, which you look over rather than through, all add to making this a stand-out model from the French manufacturer.
What you also get are goodies like cornering lights, parking sensors, panoramic sunroof and climate control and the cabin has a premium feel to it courtesy of comfortable part leather part cloth seats and drilled alloy pedals.
Perhaps the best touch of all is a simple but effective one - blue neon lighting strips around the roof lining and dashboard dials.
Back in the early 1980s, Peugeot transformed the supermini scene with a compact hatchback for the mass market - the 205, which proved a game-changer for the brand, lifting accolades like Car of the Decade.
The 208 is the latest evolution of that line, and is smaller on the outside but bigger on the inner than its predecessors. Pretty much a winning combo.
It comes in both three and five-door body styles plus a choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines and five trim grades.
There's also a fresh take on equipment and technology, the interior featuring - on 80 per cent of the models anyway - a seven-inch colour touch screen allowing easy access to the likes of radio, Bluetooth and music files.
Interior space - appreciably better than the 207 model - is adequate in a cabin that is thoughtfully laid out with dials positioned high on the dashboard.
Four adults can certainly travel in comfort provided there aren't six-footers sitting behind each other, in which case knee room is tight, and the 285-litre boot is adequate for a car this size.
The glovebox is small though and the spare wheel means there's no space beneath the boot floor.
Out on the road the THP 156 may lack hot hatch firepower but its revvy, responsive and spirited - a terrific little car to drive.
Peugeot 208 THP 156 Feline
Mechanical: 156bhp, 1,598cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 134mph
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 48.7
Insurance Group: 24
C02 emissions: 135g/km
Bik rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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