Thursday, 2 June 2016

REVIEW – Peugeot 308GTi 270

Having recently tested the RCZ R and 208 GTi PS, I have decided that Peugeot Sport are doing the business. They are drawing on all that past pedigree and creating cars that are a credit to themselves and Peugeot as a whole. The marque is now making stylish cars, and the hot models are back in force. I therefore couldn’t wait to try out another Peugeot Sport offering; the 308GTi. Mechanically it is similar to the RCZ R, and that’s no bad thing. So would it be a good all-round hot hatch; that perfect blend of performance and practicality? I had to find out…

Looks – 9/10

Peugeot has deliberately understated the styling of the 308 GTi. There are no lairy arches or axe-wounded panels here. At the front you get LED headlights with integrated daytime-running lights. There are subtle air intakes to cool the brakes and a slightly lower, sportier front bumper. But that’s about it. At the side 19-inch “Carbone” alloy wheels are finished in satin black with silver flashes. Gloss black wing mirrors and privacy glass offer contrast to the wonderful Ultimate Red paint (£675). At the back you barely notice the subtle roof spoiler, or the diffuser in the rear valance. Twin exhausts are about all that give a nod to this being a hot hatch, and by the time you’ve seen them it’s too late. There is some appeal to the subtle approach, although I know some will find it boring.

Step inside the GTi and you will find a set of delightful, sculpted bucket seats. Finished in part-leather, part-alcantara and brandishing the Peugeot Sport logo they look fantastic. The way the shoulder supports meet the headrests is very fluid. The dashboard has a similar feel to it, and it appears to have been sliced away in the middle to reveal the 9.7-inch multimedia touchscreen. The small steering wheel is becoming a familiar sight in Peugeots now, and this one is perforated with red beneath black. There’s a red ‘centre’ mark at the top, and a GTi badge at the bottom. The dials in the 308 both start from the outside and move in opposite directions, with the rev counter going counter-clockwise. The dashboard looks pleasantly uncluttered, as even the heater controls are operated via the touchscreen.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

The engine is a 1.6-litre, turbocharged petrol engine. It comes with 250PS as standard, but I was testing the more powerful version. It has 270PS and 330Nm of torque. Power goes to the front wheels, via a 6-speed manual gearbox. There’s a Torsen limited-slip differential to help use that power, and the GTi will hit 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph. To say this is a smaller engine than other hot hatches in this class, I think it performs rather well. Power delivery is punchy, and you can easily forget this is only a 1.6. The gearshift is lacking a little precision for me; I would have preferred a more precise short throw gearstick. That being said you can work it to keep in the power band, and yet it is civilised in 6th gear on the motorway. There is a sport button too, which sharpens the car up and adds an induction sound symposer. It’s not the best system, but does add a little bit of character.

At 1,205kg the 308 GTi is rather lightweight; a Focus ST is 1,437kg for comparison. That makes a lot of difference to how it drives. It feels nimble, darting from corner to corner on its tiptoes. The steering is direct, and with that small steering wheel the GTi feels particularly ‘chuckable’. The driving position is great, and those bucket seats keep you firmly where you should be. There are no adjustable dampers here, but the 308 doesn’t need them; the standard suspension setup is a lovely compromise between performance and comfort. On motorway drives the 308 sleeps, with a smooth, quiet drive. Once you wake it up on a B-road, it feels planted and composed. The Torsen differential helps reduce understeer, and the whopping 380mm front brake discs with 4-piston callipers provide more than enough stopping power.

Economy – 10/10

IF anybody thinks that the 1.6-litre engine puts the Peugeot at a disadvantage in terms of performance, then I will swiftly add that it gives a hefty advantage when it comes to economy. Start stop technology and the smaller engine mean CO2 emissions of 139g/km, putting the 308 GTi in VED band E. Road tax is £130 in the first and subsequent years, which will feel kind to your wallet for the performance on offer. It’s a similar story with fuel consumption; refrain from hooning around and the 308 will return a combined 47.1mpg. Not too bad at all for a hot hatch; suddenly opting for a 1.6-litre engine makes sense…

Practicality – 8/10

As with several cars in this segment- including the Focus, Civic and Astra- the Peugeot 308 is 5-door only. That makes it inherently more practical than a 3-door hatch with stupidly-sized doors and having to clamber into the back. That being said, the rear legroom in the GTi was surprisingly less than I was expecting. I think the bulky bucket seats up front have contributed to this. The boot is vast, with a good-sized loading area. The 308 GTi comes well-equipped too, with satellite navigation, Bluetooth, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and go, reversing camera, auto lights, auto wipers and front/rear parking sensors all standard. To live with day-to-day the 308 is rather pleasant, although as children get older they may find it cramped in the back. Thankfully at 5ft7in it’s not a problem I have!

Fun – 9/10

I think that Peugeot Sport are on great form at the minute, producing some very good cars. The 308 is one of them; there’s a lot to like. The understated exterior styling gives it a stealthy edge, such that you have to look closely to see it’s a GTi. The Peugeot Sport engineers work their magic to ensure the drive is one to put a smile on your face, from the punchy acceleration to that sharp steering and lightweight feel to the handling. This is a car for all occasions, although you will look for those occasions that take you over twisty B roads. Push the sport button, turn off the radio and just drive. I know the symposer isn’t the most natural sounding system, but it does enough to make you smile, and that will do just fine for me.

Concluding Remarks

So that concludes my week with the Peugeot 308 GTi. Peugeot Sport has taken what was a good car, and made it brilliant. On paper it’s easy to dismiss the 1.6-litre capacity of the 308 as insufficient, but you must also take into account that the Peugeot is rather light. The overall package is a fast, nimble hot hatch that can take the fight to the big boys. And when it comes to running costs the 308 makes a mockery of cars like the Civic Type-R. So if you are looking for a fun family car then this should be on your list for consideration. For more information pop in to your local dealer or visit the Peugeot website. The GTi 270 starts at £28,155 and represents good value for money. So how best to sum up the 308 GTi? Easy: Fast. Lightweight. Fun. A back-to-basics hot hatch.

Total Score – 45/50

No comments:

Post a Comment