To enthusiasts on the Atlantic's western shore, the GTI badge is commonly associated with Volkswagens. But back east, those three letters invoke memories of hot hatches from Peugeot. The original 205 GTI (pictured above) defined the segment for such iconic follow-ups as the 106 and 305 GTIs, but according to the latest reports from the old world, the current 207 GTI will be the last as the French automaker refocuses its energies.

Instead of hot hatches, which are particularly popular in the UK, Peugeot will reportedly shift its attention to sleek sport- coupes. The RCZ unveiled at the Frankfurt show last month will be just the first, with a smaller sibling reportedly in the works. However, the company's successful hardtop convertibles – including the current 207 CC and 308 CC – will continue to serve as a central product to the Peugeot line-up.

While the Peugeot RCZ targets the Audi TT in the marketplace, the French automaker's factory racing division will continue taking the fight to its German rival in Le Mans racing. As for rallying, however, Peugeot has dismissed the possibility of re-entering the World Rally Championship so long as its PSA sister company Citroen is in the series. Peugeot was a mainstay in the WRC until 1986, returning again in 1999 to claim several titles with the help of one Marcus Gronholm, only to withdraw again in 2005. While Citroen dominates the WRC, Peugeot's British subsidiary claimed the championship in the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge this year.

[Source: Autocar]


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