The new frog-in-a-sock’s debut also comes on the heel of a week-long flood of photos and details, with a leak as recent as today revealing key power figures.
The new hot hatch is properly known as the ‘308 GTi by Peugeot Sport’, reminding buyers that Renault Sport is not the only dedicated performance branch of France’s carmakers.
On the styling front, the new 308 GTi shares plenty in common with the 'warm' 151kW petrol and 133kW diesel 308 GT models that hit Australia earlier this year.
GT and GTi alike wear just about identical styling up front, while the rear of both sports hatches have the same compact ‘wing’ atop the tailgate.
The GTi does get its own unique diffuser and round exhaust tips, however, and the larger 19-inch wheels with red Peugeot Sport callipers also helps to set it apart.
And, of course, there’s the ‘Coupe Franche’ paint option, which offers the choice of a two-tone black/red paint design.
As revealed earlier today, the 308 GTi will be offered in two forms, with the standout differences being in output: one will offer an already handy 184kW (250hp), and the other will dial power up to 200kW (270hp).
Both versions are driven by the same 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and both - 308 GTi 250 and 308 GTi 270 - offer 330Nm of torque.
It’s also the same engine found in the existing RCZ R coupe hero, although it has been tweaked for Euro 6 emissions compliance.
A six-speed manual transmission is the only option, and the GTi 270 also benefits from the addition of a Torsen limited-slip differential, as featured in the RCZ R and the 208 GTi 30th edition.
There’s also a wider track and more camber to the GTi’s wheels. And, thanks to its specialised suspension package, the GTi sits 11mm lower than the GT.
That package includes recalibrated dampers and hydraulic bump stops, and, although there’s still a torsion beam arrangement at the rear, Peugeot Sport says it is 100 percent stiffer than in the GT.
The 308’s electric steering system is heavily revised, with torque steer and cooperation with the new Torsen LSD forming the main focus points for the GTi’s engineering team.
Braking is by big 380mm discs at the front front, and 268mm discs at rear.
Peugeot claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.2 seconds for the GTi 250, dropping to 6.0 seconds for the hero GTi 270.
An Australian debut for the 308 GTi is still to be confirmed, but, speaking with TMR today, Peugeot Australia’s Tyson Bowen said that securing the new hero is a top priority.
“It’s been nearly two decades since we’ve had a model in this segment in Australia,” Mr Bowen said. “We’re confident we’ll get it here, we’ve just got to make sure we put the right package together for Australia”.
Could “the right package” mean a price drop for the current $41,990 308 GT so that the new 308 GTi can best tackle Volkswagen’s $41,490 162kW Golf GTI?
“It’s too early to tell. The 308 GT is often compared to the GTI, but it offers a lot more on-board equipment, so that makes up for the price,” he said.
“It’s also a slightly more liveable vehicle, day to day. The suspension isn’t as firm as it would be in the GTi, it’s a slightly different proposition.”
But, while the GT might be focused more at buyers looking for a ‘quick enough’ car with plenty of standard features, Mr Bowen said the GTi would be a halo car “that will put 308 on the map”.
Sales of the 308 are also up 162 percent in 2015, with year-to-date figures at 705 units.
As a brand-building halo car, the GTi isn’t going to push the 308 range into Golf territory (9147 YTD), but it should help to put Peugeot’s small car range on more shopping lists.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to secure the car,” Mr Bowen said.