Just a decade ago, the very best hot hatches were lightweight and boasted high-revving normally aspirated engines. Peugeot’s 206 GTi wasn’t really in contention for the hot-hatch crown until the French manufacturer upped the ante of its then-warmest hatch, resulting in the 206 GTi 180 – which was tested for the December 2003 issue.
Inspired by its recent successes in the World Rally Championship, Peugeot celebrated by paying homage to the 206 WRC with a 206 GTi that boasted a colour-coded body kit, five-spoke 17-inch alloys, aluminium fuel-filler cap, dual chrome tailpipes and faux carbon-fibre exteriors mirrors. Inside, the racy theme continued with bucket-style front seats and an aluminium gearshift lever and pedals.
But the real treat was the 2,0-litre four-cylinder, which was armed with variable inlet valve timing and 4-into-1 exhaust manifold and produced 130 kW at 7 000 r/min and 202 N.m of torque. Along with the close-ratio five-speed gearbox, this powerplant enabled the 206 GTi 180 to sprint to 100 km/h in 7,72 seconds and complete the 1 km sprint in 28,55 seconds.