Not one but two new flash Harriet 308 GT models have dotted down from Peugeot, rounding out its compact line rather swiftly. There’s a 308 GTi toting the RCZ-R’s hyped up 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, and a GT, the latter being a 2.0-litre sport diesel which is a bit novel. Both are C-sector five-door hot hatches.
Hampton Downs was the venue for the launch so we cannot report how they go on-road, but we’d expect rather nicely, given how well each performed during a few flat-tack laps of the circuit.
The Downs, by the by, is well on its way to Stage Two completion under Tony Quinn’s stewardship and the full circuit should be ready for use by October. Read more on page 84.
Meantime, we got to grips with the GT and GTi on the existing half circuit, itself a decent test of dynamics, and undertook a slalom test in the GTi. Some drag racing in the GT on the front straight complete with the Christmas tree didn’t reveal anything other than the expected turbo lag; hit the gas when the middle yellow light goes out and you’re away on time when the green light extinguishes!
To take anything diesel to a racetrack says something of Peugeot NZ’s confidence in the GT and indeed it didn’t disgrace itself. Upshifting around 4500rpm you’re always left wondering where the rest of the revs went after driving the manic petrol GTi but there’s good punch when you hook the next gear, the exhaust noise is surprisingly low pitched, and dare we suggest almost sporty. It’s impressive for a turbodiesel. The GT alone is available with an automatic transmission, the Aisin-developed unit a sixspeeder. The GTi is manual only, which is a bit typical of Euro-centric car makers. For the few remaining manual fans, however, the GTi has a six speeder on offer; we found the space between the alloy pedals limited, and duffed a few shifts, hitting fourth instead of second a few times. That said, the GTi brims with midrange grunt, feeling superhero strong for a 1.6. There’s 330Nm available from 1900-5000rpm, and with over 200kW on tap at 6000rpm, top speed is limited to 250km/h. Sportier suspension and ESP make for fun laps on track.
The GT was not always a foregone conclusion for the Kiwi market, but got the green light once it had been sampled on local roads. The diesel generates 400Nm at 2000rpm, and is an engaging