Hot 308 GTi is all go with plenty of show
NOW I know I have said this before, but I continue to be astounded at just how much power modern automotive engineers manage to squeeze from modest motors.
Take this week’s test car – the brilliant 2016 model year Peugeot 308 GTi 270. Despite only having a 1598cc petrol engine this mid-sized pocket rocket generates 266bhp, can do 62mph in just six seconds and carry on to a highlyillegal and electronicallylimited 155.
The turbo-power delivery on this front wheel drive hatchback is positively brutal and care is needed to avoid the front wheels scrabbling for grip, although there is a torque-sensing differential to help out.
It has almost 20 more horses than the very impressive 2-litre Focus ST, is half a second quicker in the 0-62 sprint and even beats it (just) on top speed. However, the only area the ST does win over the GTi 270 is on price, being over £5,000 cheaper for the base model – although this does not have the same level of equipment and there is a cheaper (£26,555) and slightly slower GTi 250 with 247bhp.
I got to give the Peugeot a good workout using it for a trip with the supreme being to see some good friends who have a delightful holiday home on the island of Anglesey.
It was a 250-mile round trip and the 308GTI had a long history to live up to – most notably the 205 GTi of the late 1980s and early 1990s which, along with the Golf GTi, became the benchmarks for hot hatchbacks. Over 62,000 were sold in the UK.
The 308 GTi 207 scored straight away in the looks department having the standard 270 19” ‘Carbone’ alloy wheels (each 2.3kg lighter than the 18” alloys fitted to the slower 250) with Pilot Super Sport low profile tyres and a dramatic optional extra the ‘Coupe Franche’ (£1,300) paint job, which means the front two thirds of the car is metallic red and the back third metallic black.
There are also a pair of meaty exhaust pipes which in sport mode, thanks to some clever audio assistance, sound great inside the car plus red brake calipers, sports front and side skirts, a rear diffuser and lowered ride height.
But the car is most certainly not all show and no go. Peugeot’s multiaward and race-winning sport department have been hard at work on the standard 308 to arrive at a car which has great grip, superb brakes and handling and, in sport mode, power delivery which is monumental right across the rev range. And in case you forget, sport mode is engaged the whole dashboard layout switches from white to ‘I mean business’ red.
However, on our journey I was surprised how comfortable for a track-day influenced car the GTi is. Motorway cruising was no problem, although these days people will expect the cruise control to be adaptive. I also liked the very safety-conscious dashboard binnacle, which is above the steering wheel meaning it is more in the driver’s line of sight.
It’s an easy car to live with every day as it rides more comfortably than most rivals plus there is plenty of room for four adults and luggage. Build quality is also good with quality finishes throughout the cabin and Peugeot’s new ‘decluttered’ dashboard layout, with more functions controlled through the large touch-screen including heating and ventilation.
There is a lot of good competition out there in the hot hatch sector at the moment but if you want one that is more civilised and sophisticated the Peugeot 308 GTI 270 is fast, fun and unflappable.
More information at www.peugeot.co.uk.