Last word first
Peugeot’s 2016 308GTi contains all the elements to entertain and yet possesses enough practicality to justify. Subtly overseen by Peugeot Sport, the 308GTi has their fingerprints all over its underpinnings, engine and character, delivering its 270bhp in its enthusiastic dismissal of tarmac. While it can bring the horizon into its windscreen with alacrity, this is no manic street screecher and is quite capable of fulfilling all normal driving demands, with 470 litres of boot space………………and then you provoke it.
Make: Peugeot, Model: 308GTi 270, Genre: Sports 5-door Hatchback, Drive: Front Wheel Drive, Engine: Petrol 1.6litre, 4-cylinder in-line, turbocharged, Transmission: 6-speed manual, Power: 270bhp, Torque: 330Nm, CO2 Rating: 139g/km, Road Tax Band: C, Annual Road Tax: €390, Boot Space: 470 litres, Entry Price: €36,990, Test car price: €39,990.
Some of the Competition: Golf GTi, Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R, Seat Cupra, Skoda Octavia VRS
Other than sitting on 235/55 X19” tyres, with red brake callipers peeking out of its tasty alloys, dual chrome exhausts and red accentuated Peugeot badge slightly covert over the front grill, red liner inset of the front air-dam and GTi badges on its flanks, this 308GTi could pass as ‘normal.’
Available in 247bhp and as in my test car, a 270bhp four-cylinder turbocharged engine, Peugeot Sport have done quite a job in keeping their enthusiasm restrained from lashing a loud paint scheme on their cub.
As with the sedate 308, the interior is roomy, front seats hug you like they love you, the drivers console is raised, the steering is small and there is a centre console almost devoid of buttons, as the touchscreen provides access and control of all the GTi’s functions. Drivers are well advised to pre-programme and familiarise themselves with all the centre console offers prior to hitting the horizon.
Fabrics and materials used within are quality and well matched, again indicating Peugeot Sports resistance to go garish.
On the Road
If you have had the experience of sharing time with the 209 GTI of old, this 270bhp 308, with its limited slip differential, is more powerful, less manic, more comfortable, less bonkers and overall only speaks loudly after you press the Sport button down on the centre console, where a manufactured sound is fed through the 308’s speaker system.
Controlling a front wheel drive car that obviously steers through said wheels, as it seeks to place 270bhp on the deck is fraught with you fighting to keep control of your direction, as against your desire to charge forward and stay on an intended drive line. Peugeot have certainly worked their magic with this 308 GTi and courtesy of that limited slip differential, you can feed in the power and torque of this ever-giving engine and keep it on course.
Normal commuting is perfectly achievable in the 308 GTi, the gears are well spaced and you don’t need the feet of Michael Flatley to keep it on song. Activating that Sport button sharpens up the steering, suspension and engine response, with additional information on the central readout displaying power, torque, boost, lateral and longitudinal acceleration,plus on top of the audio soundtrack changes, the drivers console glows to red, as the speedo needle, running clockwise, and the rev counter running anti-clockwise, appear to duel against each other.
Mentioning the speedo, drivers should definitely use the cruise control on the motorways and other open road areas, as the numerics on the speedo show those numbers applicable in France, 70, 90, 110 etc.
That small factor aside it is admirable how civilised this 270bhp family hatchback really is. I can certainly recall driving less powerful front wheel drive ‘hot hatches’ who misbehaved in a nigh unmanageable manner any time you tried to put its power down and change direction, the torque steer bringing you into the realm of wrestling jelly.
Pressing the 308 GTi’s Sport button will provide your ears with acoustic acknowledgement that your car choice has a voice. It may be an electronic enhancement rather than a true exhaust expression, but added to the ‘perkiness’ of the response, it compliments nicely.
Peugeot’s 308GTi deserves your test-drive time to access within this small, but talented sporting hatch segment. Parked alongside the mundane metal of a car park, it doesn’t shout its name, nor announce its presence via provocative clothing. But look closer and the learned eye will see the detail, the sequential and educated thought process behind every aspect of its form.
Film buffs might remember the quote; “I have a head for business and a bod for sin." Melanie could have easily been talking about this very talented Peugeot offering.