Peugeot 308 GTi review
The Peugeot 308 GTi has the performance and price to beat the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but not its class or quality
What's not so good
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The Peugeot 308 GTi is the hot hatch version of the French firm’s small family car. It’s an alternative to the likes of the SEAT Leon Cupra and Volkswagen Golf GTI that comes with a minimalist cabin and a spacious boot, as well as a surprisingly powerful little engine.
In keeping with that minimalist theme, from the outside, there’s not much that distinguishes the Peugeot 308 GTi from other 308s. Well, not without hitting the options list, that is. There are a few red trim pieces in the front bumper, as well as lowered suspension and twin exhaust pipes. But, if you want something that stands out a bit more, you can pay extra for the ‘Coupe Franche’ paint job – a two-tone finish that makes the 308 GTi stick out like a sore thumb.
Inside, meanwhile, there are plenty of features that set the GTi apart. So, you sit in figure-hugging Alcantara and leather sports seats that hold you firmly in place in tight corners. You also get aluminium pedals, metal kick plates and lots of red stitching.
Unfortunately, while the interior looks nice and modern, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as solid or as upmarket as a Golf GTI or Leon Cupra. The infotainment system is also rather disappointing, as it isn’t particularly intuitive to use and the sat-nav can be tricky to follow.
On a more positive note, there is lots of room for adults in the front, along with plenty of space to store odds and ends. Sadly, the rear seat isn’t so accommodating, as there’s noticeably less kneeroom than you get in a Golf.
It’s a case of so near, yet so far, for the 308 GTi. It’s very close to being a great hot hatch, but it’s not quite on the money
When you open the boot, though, you can see what’s happened. It looks like Peugeot has sacrificed some passenger space to allow for a bigger boot, as the 308 GTi’s boot is huge. It has more than enough space to carry a large baby buggy or four suitcases with room to spare. And, with the seats down, there’s significantly more space than you get in most alternatives.
Just as impressive is how much power the Peugeot 308 GTi’s relatively small 1.6-litre engine can produce – 262hp – and how much pulling power it delivers at relatively low revs. This means the car responds quickly and feels eager, without the driver having to constantly change gear.
It also helps make the Peugeot 308 GTi quicker than the VW Golf GTI. The 308 GTi gets from 0-62mph in just six seconds – that’s almost half a second quicker than the German machine.
Given the stats, it’s a shame that the Peugeot’s pokey engine doesn’t sound any more exciting. Admittedly, you can hear its likeable burble and the pops during full-bore gearchanges from the outside, but precious little of that noise makes its way into the cabin.
Running costs are impressive, though, with claimed fuel economy of 43.5mpg, although in normal driving conditions, you’ll more likely to see a figure in the mid- to high thirties. That’s on a par with the Golf GTI, but unfortunately the 308 doesn’t feel quite as agile or as sure-footed as the likes of the Golf GTI and Leon Cupra. This issue is somewhat compounded by the 308 GTi’s rather soft suspension, which wallows and bounces around more than a Leon Cupra, Megane RS or Golf GTI on bumpy country roads.
The Peugeot 308 GTi was built to beat its namesake from Volkswagen, and in many ways it does. But it can’t match the Golf’s breadth of talents or the way that the Golf feels special even in the mundane cycle of daily life.