Peugeot 308 GTi hatchback
“The Peugeot 308 GTi is a great-to-drive and economical hot hatchback with subtly sporty looks and a comfortable interior”
- Pretty economical
- Fun to drive
- Very fast
- Tight rear legroom
- Pricey compared to some rivals
- Styling too understated for some
The Peugeot 308 GTi is a performance-orientated version of the standard Peugeot 308 hatchback. It’ll go from 0-62mph in just six seconds, yet return almost 50mpg. It competes with the excellent Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Skoda Octavia vRS, while offering a more ‘mature’ approach to the hot-hatch experience than cars like the Honda Civic Type R and Renault’s Renaultsport Megane.
Unlike the Golf GTI (which is available with three or five doors) and the Focus ST (which is available as a hatchback or estate) the 308 GTi is only offered as a five-door hatchback – although you do get one of the biggest boots in this class, so it remains a practical car. The turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine is tuned to deliver 266bhp, but it can also return 47.1mpg and costs £140 a year in road tax. And its CO2 emissions of 139g/km make it competitive for company-car drivers looking for an exciting alternative, thanks to a Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) liability of 26%.
The engineers tasked with facelifting the GTi for 2017 must already have been happy with it, because the engine and chassis are identical to before. The exterior design changes take a dedicated Peugeot enthusiast to spot, too, but include a larger grille, new headlights and altered rear light clusters with tinted lenses.
The unique two-tone ‘Coupe Franche’ paintwork option – where the front and back of the car are different colours – is now blue at the nose and black at the tail, but must still cause confusion at the DVLA. Changes inside are also subtle, but a sharper and more responsive touchscreen and more options for smartphone connectivity are welcome upgrades.
The 308 GTi is faster on paper than either the Golf GTI or ST Skoda Octavia vRS; we found it more involving to drive, and it’s also generously equipped. All models feature sat nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a reversing camera and sports seats.
Peugeot has deliberately taken a subtle approach to the 308 GTi’s styling, so there are sporty details inside and out (such as the understated bodykit and red-stitched steering wheel), but the overall impression is of a car that wears its performance credentials quietly. That’ll appeal to some, but drivers who want to make more of a statement should check out the Honda Civic Type R, which has a more overtly sporty design.
On the road, lowered and stiffened suspension makes the 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport – to give it its full title – feel agile and suitably sporty to drive, with upgraded brakes to cope with the performance on offer. A five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP adds further reassurance, as do recent reliability improvements from Peugeot. The Peugeot 308 finished 19th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The 308 GTi returns 47.1mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2, for an annual road-tax bill of £140. While nobody buys a hot hatch with frugality in mind (and driving in a sporty manner will see that economy figure become increasingly theoretical) the 308 GTi is more efficient than many similar cars; including the less powerful Volkswagen Golf GTI that manages up to 44.8mpg fuel economy.
Peugeot’s three-year/60,000-mile warranty is average rather than remarkable, although servicing costs should be reasonable, especially when compared to sports cars with similar performance.
Engines, drive & performance
The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine found in the 308 GTi is smaller than the 2.0-litre engines found in most rivals, but its 266bhp is hardly lacking. It might not be quite as eager at low revs as the Golf GTI or rev as high as the Civic Type R, but the GTi certainly feels quick and gets from 0-62mph in six seconds dead. Keen drivers will also welcome this version’s limited-slip differential, which varies the amount of power sent to each wheel depending on depending on how much grip is available.
On the road, the 308 GTi is thoroughly enjoyable to drive and feels every inch a true hot hatchback – in fact, it’s even more exciting than the Golf GTI or Octavia vRS. It features lower and stiffer suspension than the standard 308 hatchback, while a wider ‘track’ (the distance between the left and right wheels) provides extra grip and makes a small steering wheel makes the car feel almost like a go-kart to drive. Unlike the majority of rivals, the 308 GTi only comes with a manual gearbox; it has a satisfying action, adding to the sense of involvement.
Pressing the Sport button makes the engine more responsive to stabs of your right foot and turns the dials red, but the artificial engine noise pumped through the speakers won’t please everyone.
Interior & comfort
Peugeot has been very restrained in its approach to detailing the 308 GTi’s interior. There’s subtle red stitching on the steering wheel, a metal gearlever and pedals and part-leather sports seats, but the overall effect is restrained; some will find this a refreshingly mature approach, others may wish the 308 GTi felt more distinct from the standard 308 hatchback.
The Honda Civic Type R, in comparison, features bright red seats and makes no apologies for its sporty attitude. Whether you prefer Peugeot or Honda’s approach is a matter of personal preference.
Whichever camp you fall into, the 308 GTi is certainly well equipped. You get a touchscreen infotainment and sat-nav system with Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio, as well as cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning and automatic lights and wipers. For 2017, the 9.7-inch display received improved resolution and a similar capacitive touchscreen to a tablet, making it far more responsive. Connectivity was also boosted by adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But the climate controls are still buried in a menu, making them far fiddlier than a simple temperature knob.
The small steering wheel is likely to divide opinion: you’re meant to look over rather than through it to see the dials. Most drivers find it works well, but if you’re taller or shorter than average, it’s worth checking that you don’t find it obscures the speedometer. Stiffened suspension also means the ride is noticeably firmer, especially when tackling potholes, and road noise is also increased. The Volkswagen and Skoda are both easier to live with in this respect.
Practicality & boot space
One of the key selling points of a hot hatchback is that it offers sport-car performance, yet makes few sacrifices in terms of practicality. The 308 GTi achieves partial success in this area: its 470-litre boot is bigger than those of the Volkswagen Golf GTi, Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R and SEAT Leon Cupra, but rear-seat passengers will bemoan the fact that the extra luggage space seems to have come at the expense of their legroom.
There’s also relatively little in the way of interior storage, due to a particularly small glovebox. The door bins are average-sized and while there are a couple of 12v power sockets, overall interior practicality is underwhelming.
Reliability & safety
The standard Peugeot 308 was rated highly for reliability in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. Of the owners who responded, 8.5% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once.
The 308’s five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP is also encouraging; six airbags, a seatbelt buzzer and speed limiter, alongside sophisticated traction and electronic stability control systems add reassurance, particularly given how much performance the 308 GTi has.
Price, value for money & options
The 308 GTi 270 by Peugeot Sport costs just under £30,000 – which seems quite expensive. A Ford Focus ST is half a second slower from 0-62mph, but it’s also about £3,000 cheaper. The Peugeot is also not much cheaper than the significantly faster Civic Type R.
Still, specifying a 308 GTi is a relatively simple affair, partly due to the fact that Peugeot fits almost every conceivable extra as standard. Alongside the subtle bodykit and sporty interior trim, you get sat nav, a reversing camera, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone air-conditioning, keyless entry and go, LED headlights and Peugeot’s Driver Sport Pack.
In terms of extras, very few are available, but a panoramic sunroof costs £500 and can be fitted to cars without the two-tone paintwork.
Unless you want the 308 GTi in standard Hurricane Grey paint, other colour options range from the £500 Magnetic Blue to two-tone Coupe Franche for £1,300. Other than that, there’s Peugeot’s Connect SOS, which – for £250 – will automatically contact the emergency services in the event of a crash.