The PSA Group which produce Peugeot and Citroen cars has had worldwide acclaim in Rallying where the Citroen side of the house has won more WRC titles than Audi, Ford or even renowned Subaru!
So they know a thing or two about performance cars!
The little 205 GTi is the stuff of legend proving to be one of the very best “hot hatches” in its time.
Now Peugeot have launched a GTi version of the latest Peugeot 308 hatchback and I spent some 600km behind the wheel to see if it can cut the mustard against the likes of the current VW Golf GTI , Ford Focus RS, Seat Leon Cupra and Honda Civic Type-R.
The style of the new 308 GTi is conservative and yet attractive. Subtle styling details such as the special alloy wheels, front grille, and dual exhausts announce subtly that this is no ordinary 308.
The first impression on hopping inside the new 308 GTi is the great space and quality feel of the cabin.
The dashboard, which houses a full complement of instruments, is clearly and logically laid out, but that tiny steering wheel obstructs some of your view of the lower part of the instrument panel. I liked the driving position and visibility is generally good.
Being the GTi there is a smattering of go-faster detailing such as the figure hugging sports seats, GTi badging and contrasting stitching to the interior.
Other than that though it looks and feels much like a “normal” 308.
Standard goodies are comprehensive and include automatic climate control, auto lights and wipers, Sat Nav, electric windows all round, remote entry, push button keyless start, immobiliser, front fog lights, unique design alloy wheels, multi function steering wheel, on-board computer, heated mirrors and an iPad style centrally mounted touch screen.
The only problem with the screen is its functionality. Its frustrating to use, just changing the cabin temperature for example is a multi-press process. Why when it used to be so easy?
The 308 GTi is powered by a superb 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol with a choice of either a power output of 250 bhp or 270 bhp (as tested here) and is mated to a very nice 6-speed manual gearbox.
To get this 270 bhp onto the tarmac via the front wheels Peugeot use a clever and very effective limited slip differential.
The result is little or no torque steer and brilliant traction off the line and when accelerating out of corners. The bench mark 0 to 100 km is dispatched in just 6 seconds yet emissions are just 139g/km with an annual road tax of €280.00.
In short the 308 GTi lives up to its performance badge! This car has bags of get up and go with shove in the back mid-range punch. Its fast and competent at it.
Peugeot always made a good handling car and the new 308 GTi model is no different.
It rides and handles very well indeed. Levels of refinement are high with wind, road and engine noise well suppressed. Its a perfect daily driver, yet firm enough to offer a sporting driving experience should you wish to hustle along.
We are in a tough segment here. The excellent Ford Focus RS is for me the class leader, but its dearer too and the closer priced Golf GTi is a tempting proposition too. Prices start at €36,990 for the Peugeot 308 GTi 250 bhp while the 270 bhp version tested here notches in just under 40K at €39,990.
Verdict then? Bulls eye Peugeot, Its brilliant!
The Peugeot 308 GTi can be seen at Boland Peugeot Carlow.