PEUGEOT 308 GTi 270
A step up from the base model, The 270 gets more power, bigger brakes, an alarm, 19-inch alloys with Michelin tyres and sports bucket seats. Goodies include electric parking brake, keyless entry and push-button start, front and rear sensors, reverse camera, satnav and dual-zone climate control. But our “ultimate red” paint was $1700, the 3-year/100,000km warranty is only average and capped servicing is dear at $2270 for three years, $3965 for five. The GTi is more subtly styled than the Subaru. Only bigger wheels and brakes and dual exhausts hint at its sporty intent. The cabin styling is more overt, with a flat bottomed, small diameter leather trimmed wheel and heavily bolstered seats with embossed logos and red stitching. A sport button sharpens the throttle response, amps up the exhaust sound and displays digital readouts on
performance parameters. Tacho needle goes the wrong way. The 308 is outgunned on paper, 200kW/330Nm against 221kW/407Nm, but at roughly 320kg less it has a better power-to-weight ratio. Throttle response isn’t instant but in-gear acceleration is impressive. The exhaust note is a bit muted for a hot hatch. It claims 8.2L/100km and Subaru 10.4L — real word use bears out the difference. There are six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and automatic activation of hazard lights under emergency braking. It has massive front brakes, but lacks blind spot monitoring and automated emergency braking. The 308 diesel scored five stars and 35.82/37 in crash testing. A hoot, with sharp steering and plenty of grip from the Michelins, aided by electronics that shift the drive between wheels to improve grip. Be gentle with the throttle exiting corners or the wheel will tug in your hands, but it feels composed and capable through corners. The clutch feels light but the shift action is mushy and long-throw. The ride is firm but more comfortable than the Subaru.