LIKE THE CUT: Big brother to the much-loved 208 GTi, the 308 GTi returns in 250 and 270 versions priced from $44,990.
LIKE THE CUT: Big brother to the much-loved 208 GTi, the 308 GTi returns in 250 and 270 versions priced from $44,990.

Peugeot 308 GTi road test and review

TIME can be a hard task master. Wait too long and you can be forgotten, not long enough and you can appear common.

For the Peugeot 308 GTi, the French marque's much-loved hot hatch, time it seems has been favourable, with a 15-year absence from Australian showrooms making little impact on its popularity or its ability.

Available in two variants, the GTi 250 suitable for everyday driving and the GTi 270 which caters for those who like a stretch on the track, the hot hatch built by Peugeot Sport has already sparked the interest of enthusiasts.

Both cars share the same 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and exceptional six-speed manual transmission, with the GTi 270 producing 16kW more power (200kW) thanks to a sportier tune.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

Comfort

The interior of the new 308 GTi seems quite restrained for a sporty car, with the red trim, smallish wheel and GTi badging the only real hints of the enjoyment that lies beneath.

Peugeot's iCockpit is in evidence here and while it is modern and uncluttered, it does make for a sparse dash. Most of the controls, including cooling and sound, are operated via the 9.7-inch centrally located infotainment screen. It may be all the rage but initially it is awkward to operate while driving.

The steering wheel feels nice in the hand, the unobtrusive controls and red strip to help bring it back to centre are worthy additions.

The front seats (sporty buckets in the 270) are supportive with enough room under the thigh, while the rear pew is slightly flatter and more upright but certainly good enough for two adults who don't mind a bit of a squeeze or children who won't need to.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

There are handy storage options dotted around the cabin, although the lip of the gear stick casing makes it difficult to retrieve your coffee cup. The boot, though, was a sizeable surprise, able to easily handle two small travel cases and laptops and jackets.

On the road (and track)

There is something about hot hatches that fire the imagination and this new Peugeot, with its turbocharged engine, is no different.

It does, in essence, make for a superb drive, so much so, that it is difficult to believe it sports a 1.6-litre unit rather than the 2.0-litre variety favoured by much of the competition. Even at low speeds - where you would expect it - there is no turbo lag, with the car offering smooth torque delivery and acceleration under load.

Both variants are exceptionally capable and nicely intuitive, although the GTi 270 is the clear winner when driven hard into the corners, the addition of a mechanical limited slip differential allowing it to find purchase.

The GTi is also fitted with a race-derived brake package that includes massive 380mm discs to haul you to a rapid stop.

2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed.
2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed. Mark Bean

The six-speed gearbox is super smooth, the clutch bites at a comfortable height and the feel is solid and assuring. The ride may feel a little firm but given that this is what makes it such a nimble performer, the bumps are not really memorable.

There is a fair bit of road noise though which probably could be drowned out by a sweeter engine note.

What do you get?

There is very little difference in the features list between the variants. Both boast things like keyless entry with push button start, reverse camera with front and rear sensors, sat nav, electric parking brake, 9.7-inch colour multifunction touch screen, bluetooth with USB connectivity, and auto lights.

The GTi 270 adds 19-inch alloys, sports bucket seats with lumbar and massage functions and, of course, the Torsen limited slip diff for you track day enthusiasts.

2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed.
2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed. Mark Bean

Panoramic sunroof and metallic paint are options for both. Safety is five-star, with full length curtain airbags, emergency brake assist and hill start assist as standard.

Running costs

Peugeot suggests a combined fuel usage of 6L/100km. We didn't find that at launch (8.2L/100km was our best) but look forward to testing that out when we have it for a week. Warranty is three years or 100,000km with roadside assist and fixed-price servicing for five years.

Competition

This segment has not stood still for 15 years and the main competition will come from the Ford Focus ST (from $38,990), Renault Megane RS (from $43,990), Volkswagen Golf GTI (from $40,990) and even the Subaru WRX ($38,990).

Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

Practicality

It is hard to imagine a world in which practicality and hot hatches can be used in the same sentence but I suppose the Peugeot 308 GTi could satisfy a few needs.

It could carry a family, for example, and the GTi 270 could be a small city car in the week and a track car on the weekends.

After such a long absence and considering its on-song performance, an engine sound more akin to a hot hatch would also be nice.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

Funky Factor

The exterior of the 308 GTi doesn't scream hot hatch and the lines, although sporty, seem a little restrained. Unless of course you choose the half red half black paint job for the GTi 270 which may be an extra $4700 but will make it stand out.

It sits lower than the regular 308, with a black radiator grille and functional air scoops. And we were big fans of the dual exhaust outlets and rear light design.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

The lowdown

Peugeot is offering up an exciting product in the 308 GTi, a car that can definitely leave you with a buzz. It is fun to drive, comfortable to travel in and certainly is well specced. It is not cheap, though, and there is no dual-clutch auto version either, so the challenge will be in attracting new buyers as well as Peugeot enthusiasts.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

What matters most

What we liked: Great little engine, smooth gearbox, fun ride.

What we'd like to see: Better engine note, auto option, drop in price.

Warranty and Servicing: 3 year/100,000km warranty and capped price servicing for five years.

2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed
2016 Peugeot 308GTi 270. Photo: Contributed

Vital Statistics

Model: Peugeot 308 GTi.

Details: Five-door front-wheel-drive hot hatch.

Engines: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol generating maximum power of 184kW @ 6000rpm in the GTi 250 and 200kW @ 6000rpm in the GTi 270 and peak torque of 330Nm @ 1900rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

0-100km/h: 6.2 sec in GTi 250 and 6sec in GTi 270.

Consumption: 6 litres/100km combined.

Bottom line plus on roads: from $44,990 GTi 250 and $49,990 GTi 270.

2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed.
2016 Peugeot 308 GTi. Photo: Contributed. Tibo


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