IT'S come a long way since it broke the traditional hatchback mould back in 1984 in the shape of Peugeot's 205 GTi and now that model's latest successor - the 208 GT Line - hits the roads this month.
Looking far more sophisticated, the latest 208 is packed to the gunnels with all the latest on-board car technology and powered by a three-cylinder turbocharged 1.2-litre 129bhp petrol engine.
Crucially though, just like the original, it's still exceptionally good fun to drive with scintillating handling and none more so with what is probably the best ever automatic gearbox ever in a small car - an eight-speed automatic that's quick, smooth and so responsive up and down the gearbox that it immediately delivers the performance drivers would expect.
For those sporty minded drivers still wishing to gearchange themselves there is the choice of using the paddles behind the steering wheel for manual changes but in reality the best and easiest option is to let this highly impressive Peugeot ‘auto box of tricks' do the business.
It really is impressive with acceleration of 0 to 62mph in 8.7 seconds with the 129bhp under the bonnet and certainly well worth the £23,350 asking price.
Peugeot is also offering a GT Line automatic version with a slightly smaller output of 98bhp from the same 1.2-litre PureTech engine costing from £22,100 plus a six-speed manual 98bhp version at £20,700.
There's just one GT Line diesel engine of 1.5-litre 98bhp at Â£22,200 and again with only a six-speed manual gearbox.
Prices for this new 208 start at Â£16,250 for the Active 1.2-litre 74bhp with a five-speed manual gearbox with the cheapest next trim up - the Allure - comes in at Â£18,850 with the same engine output which Peugeot UK expect to the biggest seller.
For the new 208 range there's also for the first time an e-208 model using a 50kWh 134bhp battery electric powertrain and a range of 217 miles with prices starting at Â£25,050 for the entry-level Active, Â£26,250 for the Allure and Â£29,650 for the GT version - all prices are after the government's Â£3,500 plug-in car grant has been included.
While the novelty of an electric powered 208 will appeal to many motorists the more traditional hatchback performance fans' eye will all be on the GT Line and with that 129bhp engine in tow first impression are that it will fit the bill because it's an exciting car to drive and much in the same style as other superminis in the market place but it does have that little bit extra in style and its furnishings and fittings.
The interior of this latest 208 looks really good with a design that slick along with strong and decent material choice and all of exceptionally high quality and definitely a far cry from that frugally kitted out 205 GTi I drove many moons ago.
It has a solid feel to it with really good lumbar supporting front seats, well positioned dials and controls for the driver and it has that small leather-clad steering wheel now be used in other Peugeot models which some observers have expressed their displeasure. Not me because I think it's a good fit and much easier to use than the traditional bigger steering wheels on other Peugeots.
The big plus factor for the driver of this new GT Line is the outstandingly good Peugeot 3D I-Cockpit with a head-up seven-inch touchscreen display in front of the main dials and which is also standard on Allure grade models and above along with the black piano toggle like key style buttons.
These are all so easy to use too and it's a system that makes this car extra safety to drive and obviously with the higher trimmed GT Line drivers gain a big bagful of extra standard equipment over lesser models.
This includes full anti-lock brakes, electronic stability, lane keep assist, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, dark tinted rear side and tailgate windows, plus the now expected Bluetooth connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and much more.
From the outside it looks the part too with additional styling cues over the other 208 models such as gloss black wheel arch extensions, twin chrome exhaust pipes and a diamond black roof.
For a small so-called ‘hot hatch' the GT Line is a most civilised small car to drive and even when pushed at a pace through twisty, country lanes it remains agile with good road grip and practically no body roll with a ride that firm yet comfortable and certainly better than most rivals in this sporty class.
Yes, there are slightly faster rivals around but what this GT Line does best is to deliver a proper sporty performance but in a far more civilised and not at an exorbitant cost.
It's also the cleanest in emission terms of any Peugeot supermini sport with a CO2 of just 103g/km and on average in fuel consumption terms come in at around the 45mpg even when driven more enthusiastically and with that outstanding automatic gearbox on board t