Sometimes I wonder if the pleasure hasn’t gone out of driving and then a car comes along that renews my faith. The Peugeot Sport department have spooned into their new range-topping 308GTi hatchback a generous dollop of good ol’ fun.
It comes in two flavours; 250hp (246bhp) and 270hp (266bhp) versions. I was concerned that the lesser THP250 would seem under-nourished. I need not have worried. Sure, the THP270 gets bigger wheels and a Torsen differential but I’m not sure how much real world difference it would make on our roads.
The 308 GTi comes in regular paint but also in a two-tone whereby the back quarter is painted a contrasting colour to the rest of the car. It’s called Coupe Franche and you either like it or not.
I absolutely love the minimalist dashboard. Less is more. Virtually all the controls are managed by the well-sized touchscreen and crucially it is really well thought through. There’s a selection of apps on offer too which are all easy to use, including navigation.
The sports seats are comfortable and supportive with red stitching coupled with a smart leather effect and Alcantara finish. The front seats have lumbar adjustment. The front passenger is well catered for with plenty of legroom, some of which can be absorbed to give the rear near-side passenger some knee room. It’s less ideal on the other side when the driver is tall. It’s a bit cramped for a full sized adult. Fit and finish is excellent and there’s the option of a full Cielo glass roof. I should also mention that Peugeot’s Connect SOS & Assistance and Open & Go features are available as worthy options.
The Peugeot 308 GTi is a good looking yet discreet car – even when photographed on an appalling day – hiding its sporting credentials behind the guise of a regular family hatchback. The only giveaway is the modest body kit, the chunky wheels, the badges and the traditional hot Peugeot red line on the face. There is nothing that really makes it stand out as a Golf GTi rival, which it is; even the spoiler is underwhelming, but that’s the trend these days.
This is a car that you want to drive. It is a useful hatchback with a decent sized and well shaped boot and parking aids but give it the beans and it can really shift. The 1.6L turbo motor is flexible making the car lively, responsive and properly quick backed up by a sorted chassis and dependable brakes. There’s tons of grip from the fitted Michelins and minimal body roll thanks to the stiffer suspension which, on our test car, managed the clever trick of being both comfortable and drivable at the same time. Sport mode adds throttle response and changes the dials to dramatic red.
The Peugeot 308GTi is the real deal. It’s a safe (5*) family hatch when needed until you unleash the beast within when you’re on your own and when the road opens its arms to welcome you. The hot Pug is back where it belongs, at the front of the pack. I had a great time with the car and it is definitely in my top three for the year.
Well done Peugeot.