Peugeot 308 GTi speaks to the heart

Riley Riley

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What is it?

The 308 GTI is Peugeot’s hot hatch contender.

It’s up against the likes of Golf GTI, Holden Astra RS-V, Subaru WRX, Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS and the soon to be released Renaut Megane RS — all of them very good rivals.

It’s a bit of a sleeper and slow sales are not helped by the fact it’s available only with a manual transmission.

Believe it or not this section of the market has become very ‘autocentric’ in the past few years.

The WRX might not be a hatch, but trust me it’s certainly a competitor.

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What’s it cost?

A price cut has brought the 308 GTi down to $45,990 plus onroads, but even at this figure it’s too expensive.

The benchmark Golf GTI is $41,990 and realistically the 308 needs to be less than this to even get a look in.

Then again, if you’re after something a bit different, something that still offers plenty of poke – then the French powerhouse could speak your language.

Standard kit includes satnav, 9.7-inch touchscreen with Redline red and black theme, 6.9Gb jukebox for storing music, climate airconditioning, Alcatrana sports seats with red stitching, and also red stitching on the door panels, gear lever and floor mats — plus other sporty bits.

There’s also a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, and full LED headlights.

Although it gets a five-star safety rating, it does not at this stage feature automatic emergency braking which Peugeot is rolling out across its lineup.

Competitors include the Holden Astra RS-V ($30,740), Golf GTI, ($41,990), Renault Megane RS ($44,990), Subaru WRX ($45,640), Ford Focus RS ($50,990) and Honda Civic Type R ($50,990).

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What’s it go like?

Don’t for one minute think this is some kind of pretender.

The GTi has been engineered by Peugeot Sport, the French marque’s in-house motorsport division, that knows a thing or two about building high-performance road and race cars.

The 1.6-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine produces a very healthy 200kW of power and 330Nm of torque, the latter from a low 1900 revs.

It’s teamed with a slick six-speed manual, with drive to the front wheels and a Torsen limited slip diff to keep the tyres in contact with the road.

Suspension is pseudo-McPherson strut setup with coil springs and hydraulic dampers at the front with a twist beam, aluminium wishbones and coil springs at the rear.

It rides on dark coloured 19-inch alloys fitted with 235/35 licorice strip Michelin Super Sports.

Brakes are beefy 380 x 32mm discs with Alcon calipers at the front and 268 x 12 mm discs at the rear.

Weighing in at 1205kg the GTi can dispatch the dash from 0-100km/h in a commendable 6.0 seconds flat.

The manual shift is smooth and easy to use and tugs your hand back to centre so you never lose track of which gear you’re in.

And, of course, there’s the ubiquitous coloured stripe at the top of the steering wheel so you always know which way the wheels are pointing.

Like most hatches of this ilk the 308 can be driven as an ordinary shopping hauler around the ‘burbs, but is ready to really fire up when the road opens up and the bends beckon.

Engaging sport mode really brings the car alive with sharper responses and a louder engine note — although the latter is artificially enhanced.

The small steering wheel takes some getting used to. The steering is direct and responsive and importantly delivers plenty of feedback.

Red illuminated dials add to the drama with readouts of power and torque being delivered, turbo boost pressure, and longitudinal and transverse acceleration.

The more you drive the car, the more confidence grows, and you will soon be charging into corners, late braking and powering out again with complete confidence (and composure).

The diff channels torque to the wheel with the highest traction, making it possible to accelerate faster out of corners than would otherwise be the case.

The brakes are terrific.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! I hear you say — but is it as good as a Golf?

Does it really matter?

The proof is in the pudding and the level of excitement the car generates, because the only person you will really need to please is yourself.

Fuel consumption by the way is rated at 8.1L/100km and that is exactly what we were getting after more than 300km behind the wheel — some of them rapid.

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What we like?

  • Understated looks
  • Strong performance
  • Great brakes
  • 5-year warranty

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What we don’t?

  • Just the price
  • Oh and the tyre reinflation kit

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The bottom line?

Peugeot knows its stuff and the 308 GTi offers plenty of fun. If you’re looking for something different, it could be the one.

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CHECKOUT: 5008 reasons to buy a Peugeot

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Peugeot 308 Gti, priced from $45,990
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 8.0/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8.0/10

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