After a 15-year absence, the GTi badge returns to the Peugeot 308 range with the launch of two 308 GTi models in Australia.
Extensively developed by Peugeot Sport, the French car maker’s in-house motorsport division, the 308 GTi is the fourth road car project in three years following the RCZ R, 208 GTi 30th and 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport.
Underpinning the two model attack is Peugeot’s familiar sports-tuned turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that also powers the RCZ and 208 GTi. Two power outputs are available depending on the model. The 184kW/330Nm 308 GTi 250 is priced from $44,990, while the more potent 200kW/330Nm 308 GTi 270 comes in at $49,990. Both models are front driven and paired exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. There’s no automatic here.
Both stickers exclude on-road costs and place the 308 GTi range as the most expensive in the segment. The GTi 270, in particular, is pricier than the perennial of hot hatches that is the Renault Megane R.S. 265. It’s also uncomfortably close to the all-paw Volkswagen Golf R.
When we drove the 250 variant earlier this year, we liked its talented chassis, driving engagement and efficient engine. But how justifiable is forking out another five grand for the 270 for 16 more kilowatts, a Torsen limited-slip differential, larger front brakes and 19-inch wheels with stickier rubber?
If you’re a fan of the Red/Black Coupe Franche separation-line design (or two-tone exterior in layman’s terms) exclusive to the 270, then you don’t really have a choice.
But as far as driving is concerned, the added fireworks does serve up that extra bit of dynamic edge that will surely resonate with keen drivers. And for some rising to the 200kW club may mean something.
While the 250 is plagued by mild turbo lag low down in the revs, the 270 feels just a tad livelier as soon as you get on the throttle. And as the boost winds up, there’s just that extra bit of urgency as it hurls towards the 6,500rpm cut off.
Peugeot claims the 308 GTi 270 is capable of hitting 100km/h from rest in 6 seconds flat, 0.2 seconds quicker than the 250. On test, we managed a best of 6.2 seconds. The 270’s stronger pull is accompanied by a soundtrack that is welcomingly rortier than the 250, too.
To Peugeot’s credit, both cars offer hot hatch performance using just 1.6-litre of displacement while the competition makes do with 2.0-litre. And in the case of the 270, 200kW from a 1.6 is mightily impressive.
To squeeze more power from the 1.6 turbo four, which is jointly developed by Peugeot and BMW, Peugeot’s engineers did more than just an engine tune, there’re also forged aluminium pistons, polymer-coated bearings and strengthened connecting rods.
Tipping the scale at just 1.205kg, the 308 GTi 270 sets a new record for power-to-weight ratio in its segment, at just 6kg per kilowatt.
The rest of the car is also proper hot-hatch stuff. The six-speed manual gearbox is slick and makes for fast and swift gear changes, while the pedal positions are good for heel and toe. The small racing size steering wheel is sharp and accurate, though it struggles to telegraph what the front wheels are up to.
Sitting 11mm closer to the ground compared to the standard 308, the GTi sports stiffer springs, uprated dampers, a 10mm wider front track and more negative wheel camber on both axles. All good but one would question Peugeot’s decision to go with a torsion beam rear setup instead of the more sports-suited multi-link or double wishbone system.
A blast through some of Melbourne’s best driving roads is all that’s needed to remove any doubt. The 308 GTi 270 feels solid and taut around the bends. Its agility aided by astounding grip level coming from those magnificent Michelin Super Sport 235/35 R19 tyres.
With the front axle managed by a Torsen LSD, turn in is properly sharp and the car stays well controlled, even in the tightest of corners. It’s a tidy steer for sure, though in the wet the front wheels will wash out, calling for a more restrained approach with the throttle coming out of a bend.
For the most part, the Peugeot is more engaging than the overly friendly Golf GTI but not to a point where it plays with you like how the Focus ST or Magane R.S. do so well with a happier rear axle.
The 308 GTi 270 does stop better than its rivals, though. With Alcon four-caliper brakes clamping massive 380mm rotors in the front axle, the Peugeot shreds speeds with the feel of a fully wound up Boeing reverse thrust on touch down.
Around town, the 270’s ride is firm at suburban speed but settles down considerably over 80km/h. It’s especially compliant on open country roads, despite riding on non-adjustable dampers and 19-inch wheels with low profile tyres.
Like the rest of the 308 range, the GTi’s cabin refinement and comfort is also respectable. Its stylish and quintessentially French interior feels premium and elegant, while those grippy sport seats score highly on every day usability.
The 308 GTi 270’s fuel economy is clearly the segment’s best. After a week of mixed driving including the occasional hill runs, the car returned an impressive 8.1L/100km, beating all of its rivals at the bowser.
Design & Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance & Handling: 8.0/10
Features & Equipment: 7.5/10
The new Peugeot 308 GTi 270 packs the all the essentials required in a modern day hot hatch – power, dynamics and noise. It looks classy and comes with the most stylish interior of the competition. And it’s definitely a better drive than the lesser 308 GTi 250.
However, at close to $50k, the 270’s proposition looks bleak compared to cheaper and just as accomplished rivals.
- Powerful and efficient engine
- Sharp dynamics
- Classy interior
- Everyday usability
- Vague steering
- Not as playful as rivals
2016 Peugeot 308 GTi 270 pricing and specification:
|Price (Excl. on-roads):||From: $49,990As tested: $51,690*|
· Satin White premium paint: $1,700
|Country of origin:||France|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||3 year roadside|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Engine:||1.6-litre turbocharged, direct injected four-cylinder petrol with engine stop/start:200kW @ 6,000rpm, 330Nm @ 1,900rpm|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||Claimed: 6.0/Tested: 6.2|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 6.0/Tested: 8.1|
|Body:||5-door hatchback, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, ESP, hill assist, Torsen limited-slip differential (front), tyre pressure monitoring, reverse camera, parking sensors (front and rear)|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,253/1,804/1,446/2,620|
|Boot Space (L):||470-1,309|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,205|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||N/A|
|Entertainment:||9.7” colour touchscreen, CD player, DAB+, 6.9GB jukebox, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, satellite navigation|