“Competition has become fierce, but with the latest 308 GTI 270, Peugeot has delivered a brilliant machine.”
People show their age when talking about hot hatches. The original VW Golf GTI started it all off and is rightly a legend. I even drove one once with its designer – it was like driving with a movie star. These days it’s all R, Type R and RS, but back when I was a novice driver the supermini 205 GTI was king of the hot hatches. The front wheel drive 205 by today’s standards was absolutely tiny, but boy could it shift! Power came from a 1.6-litre four cylinder. Later Peugeot dropped a powerful 1.9-litre under the bonnet. It had gorgeous wheels and arm wrenching acceleration that made the car ‘tramline’ at every opportunity – yet it was the most fun you could have with your clothes on! Peugeot ruled the GTI roost. 205 GTI, the new French kid on the block, took over from the brilliant VW Golf GTI as the most desirable hatch as the German machine gradually lost its way and gained weight. It wasn’t until the 200hp mark 5 Golf GTI that the VW got back on track. Since then, competition has become fierce, but with the latest 308 GTI 270, Peugeot has delivered a brilliant machine.
308 GTI comes with a 1.6-litre (THP) petrol engine with two power outputs, a GTI 250 (250hp) or the GTI 270 (270hp/330nm) we have on test. Our 270 gets a limited slip differential (VW’s GTI with the ‘performance pack’ has one too) so you can always get more power to the road when cornering. The LSD stops the unloaded driving wheel from needlessly spinning away its power when the wheel has less road grip.
Bucket sports seats on the 308 GTI 270 add to the driving experience. Peugeot has done a great job in lightening the machine – so the power to weight ratio is very good.
Handling is super and the level of grip truly impressive. The 308 GTI sits 11mm lower than the standard 308 and rides on a wide track (1,570mm front/1,554mm rear). The car feels planted underneath you.
Lightweight 19-inch alloys are home to some super sticky Michelin Super Sport rubber. A fast car is nothing without the ability to stop and the 308 GTI 270 version gets bigger brakes (than the 250). The GTI 270 features 380mm vented carbon discs up front with four pot calipers. While this would be a reason alone to go up to the 270 the real draw is the Torsen Limited-slip differential that’s standard fit. Cornering and accelerating out of curves is a hoot in the 270 – as it should be in any hot hatch.
The suspension set up is specific to the GTI too and features what Peugeot calls a ‘pseudo’ MacPherson strut in the front while at the rear, the axle features a twist-beam set up. Damping has been fine-tuned and it even takes into account when the car has just a driver in it.
We love the ‘Sport’ button (found down near the gear lever) that dials the car up to 11. The car comes alive and strains to be driven with enthusiasm. Zero to 100kph takes just 6 seconds. A clever ESP set up helps keep you on track but for those more gifted behind the wheel, it can be switched off too.
If you drive like a saint you can do respectable mpg (47mpg or 6L/100km) thanks to stop start technology. We averaged closer to SUV mpg during our test but unlike driving an SUV – we spent the whole time grinning.
The 308 GTI 270 is a really well sorted hot hatch. On the outside it looks the part without being ‘in your face’. The interior is simple and classy. The only niggle we had concerns the slightly notchy six-speed manual gear shift but all in all the car is terrific.
The 308 GTI 250 starts from €36,990, whilst the 270hp version starts from €39,990.