AS THE BATTLE rages between Europe's largest and second-largest carmakers, Volkswagen and PSA Peugeot Citroen, the French side has struck a new blow with the unveiling of the 2010 Peugeot 308 GTi - aimed squarely at Volkswagen's Golf GTI.
Where the Golf GTI draws power from a 2.0 litre turbo four-cylinder producing 155kW, its French counterpart the 308 GTI develops a not-too-distant 147kW from its not-inconsiderably-smaller 1.6 litre turbo-charged four. The same engine is used by BMW's MINI brand, and will also feature in Peugeot's upcoming RCZ sports coupe.
Maximum power is available between 5500 to 6800rpm, with 275Nm of torque available from 1700rpm to 4500rpm.
The 308 GTi covers the 0-100km/h sprint in 7.7 seconds, according to Peugeot, with an average fuel consumption figure of 6.9 l/100km. By comparison, the Golf GTI lists a 0-100km/h time of 6.9 seconds and fuel consumption of 7.7 l/100km for the manual.
A new steering set-up and 10mm lower sports suspension enhances the 308 GTi's handling, with braking managed by 340mm discs at the front and 290mm discs to the rear. At each corner are chunky-looking 18-inch alloy wheels.
ESP, including dynamic stability control (CDS), electronic brake force distribution (EBFD) and emergency brake assist (EBA). The CDS, ASR (traction control) and EBA functions can be disconnected simultaneously (ESP Off).
Styling tweaks are minimal, with a black carbon fibre-style lip on the front bumper, a roof spoiler, a black rear diffuser, GTi badging and dual chrome exhaust tips.
Inside, sports seats up front are joined by an aluminium foot rest for the driver and an aluminium gear knob. The leather sports steering wheel features thumb grips and a racing-style flat bottom.
The 308 GTi is due to launch in Europe in June, and while Peugeot Australia is understood to be investigating its options, a local debut is unclear at this time.