Peugeot's 308 GTi 270 confirms what we know from RS-badged Renaults , the French have rekindled their mojo in the hot hatch segment.
Yes the German-made Volkswagen Golf GTi and the German-engineered Ford Focus RS have impressive reputations, but just a quick twirl around the block will confirm the Peugeot 308 GTi 270 is well-and-truly on the same page.
Vehicle Style: Small hatch
Engine/trans: 200kW/330Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.0 l/100kms | Tested: 8.2 l/100kms
The 308 is to Peugeot what the Golf is to Volkswagen – yes it’s a crucial model – so there is no shortage of variants. The 15 model Australian range includes hatchbacks and wagons and kicks-off with the three-cylinder Access at $21,990.
The Peugeot 308 GTi 270 tested here is the range-topper and it comes with plenty of impressive kit to support its $49,990 (plus on-road charges) price tag.
The exterior changes mirror the GTi 250 (chequered flag grille, a red insert for the lower front bumper and a rear diffuser with twin exhaust tailpipes) but the 270 goes further with handsome 19-inch alloy wheels.
On the technical front, the GTi 270 adds extra grunt (200kW versus 184kW for the GTi 250 although both have identical torque at 330Nm) a Torsen limited-slip differential and larger front brake discs with four-piston calipers.
THE INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5
- Standard Features: Peugeot Sport front seats in Alcantara/leather with contrast stitching (massage function in fronts), mood lighting, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, leather-trimmed GTi steering wheel, aluminium pedals, GTi alloy door sill protectors, red stitching throughout, power windows, rear side privacy glass, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning,
- Infotainment: Radio, CD player with 9.7-inch multifunction colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, Driver Sport Pack (displays G-force monitoring, throttle map recalibration, power/boost torque readouts and exhaust note amplification),6.9GB storage, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, two extra USB ports
- Cargo Volume: 435 litres rear seat up, 820 litres rear seat folded
The Alcantara-trimmed sports seats with Peugeot Sport logos and the miniscule leather-wrapped steering wheel (with a red stripe for centre) allude to this version of the 308 being something out of the box.
Combine plenty of manual rake/reach adjustment for the wheel, ample seat adjustment (including lumbar) plus the nice alloy pedals and the driver is quickly into a high-performance environment.
And that environment is enhanced by a driver-focused layout for the two-gauge instrumentation and 9.7-inch touchscreen.
However, as we’ve noted in other reviews of the current PSA products, the passion for eliminating buttons and placing most climate, vehicle systems and audio functions onto the screen leads to cumbersome navigation amongst various pages.
And, perhaps also a reflection of the simplified interior layout, there is a noticeable lack of items like cupholders.
Rear seat legroom is a little tight but the seat split-folds 60:40 and there is a centre ski flap for cargo versatility.
ON THE ROAD | RATING: 4.0
- Engine: Turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol (200kW @ 6000rpm/330Nm @ 1900-5500rpm)
- Transmission: 6-speed manual, front wheel drive
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs fronts ventilated (330mm front with Alcon 4-piston calipers/268mm rear)
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear
- Steering: Variable electric power-assisted 10.4-metres turning circle
Appropriate for its extra grunt, over the Peugeot GTi 250, the GTi 270 scores a Torsen limited-slip differential and larger front brakes with Alcon four-piston calipers.
It gets bigger wheels and better rubber too, with 19-inch alloys wapped in 235/35 R19 Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres.
The GTi 270 is marginally faster zero to 100km/h (6.0 seconds versus 6.2 seconds for the GTi 250). It’s faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI too, thanks to its extra power and aided by the Peugeot being over 100kgs lighter.
That extra shove from the 1.6-litre comes courtesy of a larger turbocharger, forged aluminium pistons, stronger connecting rods and polymer-coated bearings.
So there’s a pleasing zip and hardly any turbo-lag when you nail the throttle from a standing start or in mid-range for overtaking.
But the letdown comes when you change gears. Infuriatingly, Peugeot’s six-speeder has a long-throw gear lever and the actual cog-swapping is tediously slow. You do become accustomed to it after some seat time but in a package which is otherwise top-notch it’s perplexing.
And the exhaust note (notwithstanding the speaker-generated exhaust amplification which can be accessed via the infotainment system) well it sings a song more attuned to the Paris CBD than the Paul Ricard race circuit.
On the other hand, no question marks hang over the chassis. Get the 308 GTi 270 on your favourite twisty road and the rewards are plentiful. The steering is pin-sharp (the tiny sports steering wheel a definite plus), turn-in is instantaneous and grip from those Michelins is terrific.
The overall ride is impressive. Despite not having variable dampers, yes it’s firm but not overly so even when you’re pressing hard. We especially like the calibration of the front end which delivers some compliance on bump when turning-in but rebound was instantaneous and leaves you fully-informed about what the tyres thought of your intended cornering (understeer came at a very high limit).
Its braking power was simply awesome with those 380mm front discs and Alcon four-piston calipers arresting speed with impressive force.
Around town, the GTi 270 was impeccably well-mannered and easy to maneuver as the 10.4-metre turning circle, front/rear parking sensors and reversing made it right at home in city carparks.
Apart from that lethargic gearbox and suboptimal exhaust sound , we’re only deducting points for tyre noise on uneven road surfaces, but don’t forget those 19-inch alloys and grippy Michelins pay huge driving dynamics dividends.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - The Peugeot 308 range was scored 35.82 out of 37 possible points when tested in 2014. Test data comes from Euro NCAP based on diesel variants only.
Safety Features: Six airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Emergency Brake Assist, Limited-Slip Differential, traction and stability control, front and rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, reversing camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000kms
Servicing: 12 months/15,000kms/capped price servicing for the first five years/75,000kms – 12 months/15,000kms $748; 24 months/30,000kms $796; 36 months/45,000kms $801; 48 months/60,000kms $867; 60 months/75,000kms $872
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Golf GTI - those seven letters loom large over the Peugeot 308 GTi 270 and right off the bat the French contender has a problem with the Volkswagen best-seller priced from $41,340 to $46,490 ($49,990 for the 308 GTi 270 remember). That’s a shame because over our favourite twisty roads the Peugeot actually ranks higher on the fun-o-meter. Volkswagen’s hallmark interior style is also a factor.
The Ford Focus RS at $50,990 is also a great buy. Its all-wheel-drive chassis and 257kW/440Nm engine are the real party tricks from Ford. And if that’s a bit pricey, the Focus ST at $38,990 (184kW/360Nm turbo 2.0-litre) must be considered too.
Renault’s Megane GT at $38,490 is terrific but in this league it’s best described as a warm hatch (Renault needs an RS version to take on the GTi).
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL RATING: 4.0
Motorsport still flows through the veins at Peugeot with its most recent victory in the 2017 Dakar rally-raid in early January with the 2008 DKR, so hot hatch fans shouldn’t be surprised by the 308 GTi’s all-round excellence.
It’s fast, pointy, grippy, well equipped inside and makes all the right moves when you’re pressing-on.
All of which makes that laborious gear-shift stand-out like a pimple on a supermodel.
But to truly mount a serious offensive against segment rivals, Peugeot needs to lop around $5,000 from the GTi 270’s sticker.
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