Peugeot's 308 GTi takes on strong rivals at the top of the family hatchback shopping rocket segment but it's well prepared for the task. The experts at Car & Driving check it out.
Ten Second Review
Peugeot has a strong history in family hatch-sized hot GTi contenders. Here's one of the most potent ever, a 308 GTi model that produces up to 270bhp and it is ready to do battle in this sector with the Ford Focus ST and the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Ever since the launch of the 205 GTi, Peugeot has been a go-to brand for hot hatch fans. The company's shopping rocket models include a roll-call of outstanding performance cars: the 309 GTi, 206GTi, 306 GTi-6... and so on, right up to the recent RCZ R, 208 GTi 30th and 208 'GTi by Peugeot Sport' models. Now, that same 'Peugeot Sport' division has brought us this car, the 308 GTi. In a sector filled with impressive hot hatches, the 308 GTi is aimed at the very top of the tree. That means its rivals include the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Ford Focus ST and the Renaultsport Megane 265. It'll have to be very good indeed to succeed in this exalted company.
The 308 GTi is aimed at the enthusiast end of the market - in every way a red-hot hatch. Hence the effort that's gone into tuning both the chassis and the 1.6-litre THP turbo engine, a unit offered in both 250 and 270bhp guises. Either way, performance is strong, both versions quicker over the benchmark sprint than the Ford Focus ST. The most powerful unit will get from a standing start to 62mph in 6.0 seconds, while the lower powered 250bhp variant can complete the benchmark sprint in a time of 6.2 seconds. Both models will go on to a top speed of 155mph. Opt for the GTi 270 version and it comes with a hi-tech Torsen limited-slip differential, this channelling the power to the wheel with the highest grip. That'll make this top Peugeot much quicker through the bends: it's certainly the version most would rather have.
Design and Build
This 308 GTi certainly looks the part, offered with clean lines that build on those of the standard car. As you'd expect though, this top hot hatch has more road presence than its siblings, with a muscular stance and plenty of enhancements to the exterior to make it stand out from the crowd. This includes exclusive styling front and rear and a lowered ride height that sees this car sit 11 millimetres lower to the ground than the standard 308. The nose features full LED headlamps, flanking a smarter black radiator grille with a horizontal chequered pattern and gloss-black finishing. The same motif is echoed on the air intake, which is surrounded by sequential LED indicators and a red detail strip. Below the bumper, two front spoilers boost aerodynamic performance. In profile, the redesigned door sills hint at the car's aggressive nature, while the sleek rear design features a gloss-black section housing the twin exhaust pipes. With a wider track of 1,570mm at the front and 1,554mm at the rear, this GTi has been engineered to offer exceptional grip. GTi 250 versions are shod with 18-inch alloys, while the GTi 270 variants feature dynamic 19-inch 'Carbone' light-weight wheels. Jump inside and you'll find a Peugeot i-Cockpit cabin enhanced to reflect the sporting nature of the car, with additional detailing to signify this performance version.
Market and Model
List pricing for the Peugeot 308 GTi starts from around £26,000 and rises to around the £28,000 mark for the higher-powered car. Both models are more expensive than a Ford Focus ST, but the lower powered 308 GTi is cheaper than a VW Golf GTI. Both 308 GTi variants are well kitted out. In the top-spec GTi 270 version, Peugeot Sport 'bucket' seats are upholstered in Alcantara with red stitching and provide cosseting lateral support. The compact steering wheel carried over from the standard car is here offered with a full-grain leather design featuring the GTi logo at the bottom and a red centring mark at the top. The cabin has the 308 model's now familiar i-Cockpit instrument layout and customers can also opt for a Driver Sport Pack. This gives you a 'Sport' button on the centre console: press it and the instrument display changes from white to red. At the same time, you also get extra information on the central read-out (details on power, torque, boost, lateral and longitudinal acceleration). Plus the 'Sport' mode enhances the engine's throaty growl and changes accelerator pedal mapping for a more engaging driving experience.
Cost of Ownership
Running costs can be steep when it comes to hot hatches but the 308 GTi is actually quite impressive here. The engine is arguably the most efficient in its sector, as you might expect given that it's just 1.6-litres in size (rivals use 2.0-litre units). CO2 emissions are rated at 139g/km, while combined cycle fuel economy is figured at 47.1mpg. Residuals will be strong if the market takes this car to its heart.
Peugeot seems to be rediscovering a little of its hot hatch magic. The 208 GTi showed us that the company's 'Sport' division still knew how to build a decent shopping rocket and this 308 GTi model seems to confirm that feeling. For the full-fat experience, you really need the 270bhp version but assuming you can stretch to that, then there's much here to like. This may not be as good a track car as, say, the Renaultsport Megane but it'd probably be an easier hot hatch to live with - and enjoy - day-to-day. If you're buying a car in this segment, it's a model you need to try.