Peugeot is on a bit of roll when it comes to its higher-functionality models. Final year’s RCZ-R uncorked the prospective we all knew the coupé had, even though the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary Edition (now a major model recognized as the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport) showed us a glimpse of the old 205 GTi’s legendary magic.
Even so, the new 308 GTi – Peugeot’s answer to the SEAT Leon Cupra, Ford Concentrate ST and Skoda Octavia vRS – is far more crucial than either of them. But luckily it’s nonetheless got one thing in common with both. Officially badged the Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport, like the RCZ and 208, it is been developed by Peugeot’s motorsport arm, which means this is much more than a power enhance and a bodykit.
The suspension has also been stiffened and lowered by 11mm, the brakes have been enlarged and the car comes with new lightweight wheels wrapped in stickier rubber. There are detail modifications to the interior and exterior, although this isn’t an in-your-face mega hatch like the Honda Civic Kind R or Renaultsport Mégane – it prefers to go about its enterprise quietly, but effectively.
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Two versions of Peugeot’s 1.six-litre THP engine are available: 1 with a Focus ST-matching 247bhp (badged 250) and the complete-fat version driven right here with 266bhp (known as 270). It’s the very same unit that worked so nicely in the RCZ-R, and once once again it is smooth, sharp to respond and requires on a rabid character when you hold on to gears and let it rev out. It’s clean, too, promising 47mpg economy and 139g/km CO2 emissions – far better than all of its peers apart from the Golf GTI. But then the VW has a rather sizeable chunk less power.
Order the Driver Sport Pack and you get a Sport button on the centre console that sharpens up the principal controls and adds weight to the steering. It also turns up the noise – and it’s this you notice very first.
The fact that it is a synthesised soundtrack pumped by means of the speakers will be sacrilege for some, but you cannot fault Peugeot’s efforts. The sound vibrates authentically when you floor the throttle and rises and falls completely in line with the rev counter. Put your prejudices to one side and it unequivocally enhances the driving encounter.
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The auto feels rapidly, as well. Even though the sprint from -62mph requires one-tenth longer than in the Leon Cupra (six. seconds vs five.9 seconds), the 308 GTi pulls strongly and will far more than hold its own in most straight-line drag races. But what about the corners? Stretch to the variety-topping 270 model and it has all the tools you want. You get a Torsen limited-slip differential on the front axle, as nicely as bigger brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels (which weigh 2kg much less each than the 18-inch rims) and Michelin Super Sport tyres. And the outcome is profound.
Wider tracks than on the common 308 and increased camber on the front axle mean when you turn in, front finish bite is immediate. When you get challenging back on the energy at the apex, the differential does its issue, sending torque to the outdoors wheel and catapulting you out of the bend.
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It’s mightily effective, and when you combine that with the car’s potential to devour the straights, it makes the 308 GTi an obscenely fast point-to-point automobile.
Portion of this pointiness is down to the tiny steering wheel, which offers the complete expertise a go-kart like feel. The steering is a small on the light side, even though, which can make the front end really feel ever so slightly nervous in fast corners. But truly, that is splitting hairs. In many methods this 308 sits somewhere in between the Golf GTI and Golf R – exuding the very same grown-up character, but with outstanding physique handle and a deceptive capacity to cover ground briskly.
That sophisticated, rather than boy-racer, theme is carried more than to the design and style exactly where the alterations are hilariously subtle. There are full LED headlights, a gloss-black mesh grille, larger air intakes and chunkier side skirts, plus a subtle diffuser and two huge tailpipes at the rear. The badge on the boot is the most significant giveaway – although our early production automobile did without having it so as not to draw consideration to the firebreathing hatch, which hadn’t been revealed at the time.
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If you really want to turn heads, for £1,300 Peugeot will give it the Coupé Franche remedy with a two-tone matt black and red paintjob (the opposite way round to the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport). But it’s a bold appear and an acquired taste.
As with all hot hatches, the 308 GTi rewards from the normal car’s practicality, with a decent 470-litre boot that expands to 1,309 litres when the rear seats are folded flat. Yes, an Octavia vRS is bigger still, but the 308’s load area is usable and there’s a lot more space beneath the boot floor. The rear seats are a little cramped, even though, so if space is a priority, the Civic Variety R is far more accommodating, even though it’s firmer.
Up front, you are greeted by an aluminium scuff guard and a largely black colour scheme punctuated with red stitching throughout. Bucket seats – normal on the more effective version – are properly worth the funds, as they hug you in all the correct places and look the company. Like the complete of the 308 GTi package, they serve a sporty goal, but are comfy and simple to live with each day.