Long term report: Peugeot 208
Shoehorning in a more powerful engine and throwing on some big wheels is all well and good, but if the car you start with isn't anything to shout about, you'll be in for an unfortunate surprise when you hit a B-road.
In my mind, the old 207 GTi was the epitome of this problem. It looked sporty enough, but the 207's numb steering and weighty body meant that it was never going to live up to the legends of past hot Peugeots.
It's with delight, then, that I can report Peugeot's latest attempt – the 208 GTi – is back on form. It's quick, great fun to drive and thanks to the surprisingly supple suspension, more comfortable than rivals like the much-lauded Fiesta ST.
And that, I reckon, is a great testament to our long-term 208. It might have a fraction of the GTi's power (and considerably bouncier suspension, might I add) but it's great fun to drive nonetheless.
One thing a week with the GTi did highlight, though, was just how poverty-spec our little 1.2 Active feels by comparison.
Ok, so there's air con, folding mirrors, sat nav and so on, but the cheap and overly springy cloth seats feel like garden chairs against the GTi's well bolstered leather ones.
Still, we're willing to forgive it this little foible. After all, it's probably our fault for not speccing something posher.
Apart from acting as a good comparison tool to the fiery 208 GTi, our little long termer has mainly enjoyed some easy motorway miles in the blazing heat, transporting various of members of staff to meetings up an down the country.
You may remember from some of our early updates that the French hatchback suffers a bit in the cold, taking an absolute age to warm up and pump out heat from the blowers.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens in the scorching summer days but in reverse - the air-conditioning takes an absolute age to get cool, meaning the first five minutes of every journey requires all windows to be lowered and the sunroof fully opened to keep the cabin's occupants from melting.
Yes, it might provide a fun thrash around the country but it makes for an utterly woeful ice-cream van.
Model: Peugeot 208 Active Vti 1.2
Price: £14,550 (as tested)
Engine: 1.2-litre, petrol
Power: 82bhp, 118Nm
Max speed: 109mph
0-60mph: 13.8s MPG: 65.7 (combined)
Mileage this month: 250
Costs this month: £0