As a brand, Peugeot Sport is associated with serious motorsport. It has pedigree. For a road car to be graced with its name is an indication of something a little special.
However looks wise, it’s not too far removed from the standard car. It’s certainly nowhere near as striking as a Honda Civic Type-R or Hyundai i30N. It seems more reserved; perhaps more grown up and sophisticated.
The front bumper has venting in the corners, but you have to look hard to spot it. On our test car the centre lip was black, to contrast the Ultimate Red paint (£675 extra). If you opt for Magnetic Blue, the lip comes in red, which is slightly more aggressive-looking.
Ultimate Red is a lovely colour, but we prefer our hot hatches a bit more boldly-styled. For that reason we’d opt for the Magnetic Blue with Nera Black ‘Coupe Franche’ – it means ‘Fresh Cut’ in French.
19 inch ‘Carbone’ two tone finish diamond-cut alloy wheels sit on top of some rather large red painted Peugeot Sport brake calipers. Those front discs are 380mm with four-piston calipers, but we’ll come onto their performance later. Visually though; they’re massive.
At the rear, you’ll find a large twin exhaust, situated either side of a black rear diffuser. A large rear spoiler reminds people behind you that the car is rather special, as you disappear into the distance.
The longer you sit and stare at the 308 GTi, the more you start to appreciate the subtle styling touches. If it’s a big impact and unforgettable first impression you’re after; this may not be the car for you.
Open the doors on the 308 GTi and you’ll be instantly drawn towards the rather large, bulky bucket seats, which are the stars of the show in the cabin.
Finished in a part-leather, part-alcantara and featuring the Peugeot Sport logo, they look fantastic. They’re not the hardcore, shell-style seat found in some hot hatches, but that fits with the grown-up nature of the 308 GTi.
The dashboard and centre console in the GTi maintains the standard 308’s minimalistic approach. In the middle, you’ll find a 9.7 inch multimedia touchscreen that controls most functions; including climate control.
The dashboard plastic is not the highest quality, but its textured appearance means it looks alright. In the rest of the cabin there is plenty of leather and contrasting red stitching to give a nice feel of quality overall.
You’ll find the small steering wheel, a popular choice in modern Peugeots, which is finished in perforated leather. Red leather is visible through the holes of the perforation, which is very effective. Peugeot have also added a red ‘centre’ mark at the top, with a GTi badge at the bottom to remind you it’s not an ordinary 308.
With the smaller steering wheel, the dials sit above the wheel. Depending on your height, it can take some jiggery-pokery until you get the right position to see and reach everything.
Interestingly, whilst the speedometer moves clockwise, the rev counter movers counter-clockwise. This takes some getting used to at first. Hit the ‘Sport’ button and those white dials turn into a devilish red.
Privacy glass makes the rear seats a little darker, but it is a nice premium feature to have. In the back it’s very much the same blend of leather, alcantara and red stitching as the front, minus the deeply-bucketed seats.
The 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport is unusual in this class of car. It’s powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Don’t worry though, because it puts out a monumental 276 PS and 330Nm.
This is the most powerful production engine of its size, and that is a credit to Peugeot Sport. All that power is delivered to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox with a Torsen limited-slip differential.
The 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport will go from 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds, and on to a top speed of 155mph. That puts the Peuge308 GTi up there with the 2.0-litre cars, thanks in part to a power-to-weight advantage of a smaller engine.
Put your foot down, and you’ll feel the punchy acceleration. In Sport mode the throttle response is sharpened and steering weight increased. You’ll also notice an amplified engine sound in the cabin. And then you’ll wish it would go away. It’s so artificial-sounding; it would be better left off the car.
Whilst there is no automatic option, the manual box is alright. The ratios were on point, balancing acceleration and cruising ability. However the actual gear box felt slightly vague and notchy.
Because the steering wheel is so small and precise, this emphasises a lack of precision in the gearbox. A short throw gear lever would be better.
There is actually a bit of turbo lag, which is a strange thing to experience these days. Having said that, if you keep the revs up you notice it less, and the 3080 GTi is chomping at the bit to get going.
The limited-slip differential helps reduce wheel spin, meaning you can use more of the power. Push too hard and you will still find a bit of understeer; not unsurprising in a 270PS front-wheel drive car.
If you’ve never driven a 308 GTi, then you’re missing out on one heck of an experience. Peugeot have managed to put the car on a strict lean diet, producing an overall weight of 1,205kg. That’s seriously lightweight for a car of its size, and boy does it make a difference.
Put simply, the car felt as direct and agile as a go kart. Lift off the throttle and you can feel the rear axle go light and the nose tucks straight in. It’s a car that invites you to find its limit in the corners, almost like its showing off to all its mates.
The car rides at 11mm lower than the standard car which minimises lean in the corners. The Torsen Limited Slip Differential limits understeer for the most part, and those beefy 380mm front brake discs can pull your face off. Put them all together and you have a car that will take the fight to most others on a testing B-road.
After a bit of adjustment, I eventually found the perfect driving position. The bucket seats are as supportive as they are attractive, holding you firmly in place and giving you the confidence to push on.
With the four-piston front brakes you can leave your braking late too, and thanks to its lightweight frame the 308GTi is composed under heavy braking. However when driving round town they take a little getting used to. With a sharp bite you can expect a jerky affair if you get a bit heavy footed.
Put the car into “normal” and cruise down the motorway, and you’ll find the Peugeot 308 GTi is quiet and smooth. Surprising given the car has no adjustable dampers, but also showing that this is, after all, a grown up hot hatch.
Although some people will miss the extra torque of a 2.0-litre engine, Peugeot’s choice to use a 1.6-litre engine has its own merits. For the most part you will drive it sensibly, and in doing so the efficiency benefits far outweigh the performance ‘loss’, if you can even call it a loss.
The lightweight 308 GTi has start/stop technology which helps save fuel in traffic and around town. The resulting CO2 emissions of 139g/km mean that road tax is £205 in the first year and £140 thereafter. You could even call that cheap to run.
The same can be said for fuel economy. Combined fuel consumption is 47.1 mpg which is remarkable for a car with this performance. What’s more, I saw that figure, so I can believe it is capable of it. Your wife would struggle to say that this is a ‘silly’ car when you can show that on the trip computer.
Admittedly, if you get a bit enthusiastic behind the wheel – and it is our job to do so from time to time – then you can expect a figure maybe in the low to mid 30s. That’s still impressive for a hot hatch. On a balanced diet of country road blasts and motorway slogs you’ll never feel aggrieved at the fuel usage.
The Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport is, in most respects, as practical as the regular 308. Only available as a – door, getting in and out of the back is easy for even tall adults.
Once sat inside adults will be comfortable in the back, but it is apparent that those bulky front seats have eroded some of the standard car’s generous rear legroom. When you consider the 308 GTi against the likes of the Skoda Octavia vRS, you can really tell the difference.
For children, there are absolutely no issues in the back of the 308 GTi. There are two ISOFIX anchor points on the outer seats for car seats. There’s also enough lateral room so the kids aren’t sat on top of one another, which hopefully will keep the fighting at bay for a little while.
The 308 GTi does have a generous boot. With a good opening and reasonable depth to the boot, bulky items are not an issue. And, at 470 litres, it’s more than ample space for the shopping, the family dog or a few suitcases.
That little steering wheel means in normal mode (when it’s lighter) makes manoeuvring a doddle, and visibility is good. You won’t struggle at the supermarket or in a tight multi-storey car park.
The 308 GTi comes with a fair bit of kit as standard. Keyless entry and go. 9.7-inch touchscreen multimedia system including Bluetooth, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Cruise control with speed limiter. Dual-zone climate control. Reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors. Auto lights. Auto wipers. You get the idea.
Those lovely front sports seats also come with a massage function. Okay, a ‘massage function’ might be over-exaggerating a little bit. It pulses the lumbar support. But on a long drive, this little touch can go a long way to keeping you refreshed and feeling great when you arrive.
The touchscreen responsiveness wasn’t as slick as other systems. Moreover, I am still not completely sold on the minimalistic cabin. Adjusting the dual-zone climate control via a touchscreen is no easy task, and can be quite difficult to do while driving.
The biggest omissions from the equipment list come in the form of driver aids and assistance systems. The likes of blind spot monitoring, lane keeping aid, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning and speed sign recognition. You can get these on the 308 GTi as optional extras or packs, but we like for these to be standard on the range-topping cars.
Value For Money
So the real question is ‘would you buy one’? Peugeot Sport has done an excellent job at creating a practical hot hatch with the 308 GTi. With the car weighing just 1,205kg, and with a fruitful engine given its size, the car feels like one of the fastest, nimble hot hatches on the market.
For me, the Peugeot provides the ability to own an everyday family hatchback with the sporty, rally edge for a starting price of £28,595. On top of that, with the smaller engine and lighter car, the running costs make the Peugeot a more viable option in the mid to long term.
Despite its reasonably recent facelift, the 308 GTi still feels like it needs further freshening up, especially when you look at the I-Cockpit Peugeot is now fitting to newer models.
Whether or not the 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport is the car for you will depend largely on whether or not you want the bold, in-your-face type of hot hatch or this quieter, more unassuming one. The 308 GTi packs a hell of a punch, but it doesn’t brag about it.
Other complaints are that while the starting price is reasonable, some kit is extra, and you can soon get to the wrong side of £30,000. Whilst that doesn’t represent bad value in itself, it becomes hard to ignore the Hyundai i30 N. We reviewed that recently and, at £28,595 as tested, it really is the hot hatch to beat.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||276PS at 6,000rpm|
|Max torque||330Nm at 1,900rpm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive with Torsen limited-slip differential|
|Fuel tank size||53 litres|
|Fuel consumption||47.1mpg, combined cycle|
|Towing capacity||N/A braked / N/A unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||470 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£29,270|