Externally the Peugeot 308 GTi is disarmingly discrete, exuding refined Gallic style, with a sort of je-ne-sais-quoi modesty. Subtly concealed dual exhaust pipes, alloy wheels, elegant skirts and GTi logo merely hint at the joie-de-vivre within.
Peugeot’s advertising campaigns reveal the powerful beast. “Push the limits” their European adverts encourage whilst in Britain the go-faster hot-hatch sponsors ITV’s coverage of the testosterone charged Six Nations Championship.
Cars are designed for lifestyles, sometimes with compromises. The 308 GTi caters for those of us with a split personality. In the morning it is a sedate run to the garden centre, in the afternoon you let rip rally-style on long inviting corners. With its sporty cockpit and intoxicating acceleration the 308 GTi is the performance car you have longed for. This is a driver’s car and cramped rear-seat passengers will probably take issue with designers who have allocated a very generous boot.
Back in the day of being young, free and single hot hatches, such as the Peugeot 205 GTi, were the thing. Three decades on – older, hopefully a little wealthier and with cumbersome estate cars discarded – drivers are empowered by the 308 GTi.
This is a car that should be prescribed by your doctor. Back pain is banished by supportive and figure-hugging bucket seats. Jolts from Britain’s potholed and unloved B roads are smoothed out by cosseting suspension. Light flooding in from sun-roof is a feel-good mood enhancer.
When it’s done the shopping, easily stowing away a week’s supplies from Carrefour – you might as well embrace the baguette and Bordeaux French lifestyle – comfortably easing its way round town with sensible parking sensors, this GTi is ready to play. But watch out for the soft alley wheels, they scratch easily, and it is worth investing in some protection to help maintain the car’s market value.
An aluminium chassis, weighing in considerably lighter than the competition, gives the 270 horsepower version a class-leading and potent power-to-weight ratio. At just six seconds for 0 to 62 mph this car, with its 6 speed gearbox, is designed for overtaking the Golf GTi. The only faux pas is an alarm system which sounds like a nuclear alert if you open the driver’s door before the hand-brake has engaged.
Press the Sport button, hard to resist, and oh là là. The dash-board dances with red-lights like a Soho night-club. Sports mode increases the responsiveness of power steering, engine and gearbox from a dab on the accelerator. Speakers augment the growling sound of the turbo-charged 1.6 litre engine. Nor is it too thirsty, achieving 47 mpg.
The 250 horsepower version starts at £26,555 with the 270 coming in at £28,155. Both are packed with technology: colour reversing camera, integrated sat-nav, dual zone comfort control, keyless entry for push-button start and DAB radio. It is probably worth digging deeper into your pockets, finding around another £1,600, for the 270 model. It has the Torsen differential which channels the torque to the wheel with the most grip.
Low to the road, secure on Michelin Pilot Super-Sport tyres, this hot-hatch is hot, as the French would say la crème de la crème.
Last modified: June 10, 2021