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Perky Peugeot 308 GT’s warm wave of nostalgia

17:58 10 June 2015

Peugeot's new 308 GT is a grown-up sports hatch combining practical performance levels with practical load-lugging ability.

Peugeot's new 308 GT is a grown-up sports hatch combining practical performance levels with practical load-lugging ability.

Peugeot

Peugeot’s new 308 GT is a sporty model you can’t help but warm to. It revived fond memories for motoring editor Andy Russell of a another favourite Peugeot warm hatchback.

Sporty intent

For many years Peugeot has built fine sports hatchbacks – the high-performance, hot-hatch GTIs immediately spring to mind - but the French car-maker is also rather adept at turning up the heat and turning out some warm hatches.

The 308 GT which looks suitably sporty without being completely over the top with outrageous huge spoilers and pumped-up performance parts - instead it shows its intent without being impractical.

Peugeot 308 GT factbox

Price: Peugeot 308 GT 1.6 THP 205 £24, 095 (2.0 BlueHDi 180 £25,945)

Engine: 1,598cc, 205hp, four-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 7.5 seconds; top speed 146mph

MPG: Urban 38.2; extra urban 61.4; combined 50.4

CO2 emissions: 130g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21%

Insurance group: 26E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,253mm; width (including door mirrors) 2,043mm; height 1,457mm

Standout style

The standout stylish 18in alloy wheels with flute spokes, black lacquered rear diffuser with twin exhausts and top-of-the-range headlights made up of 62 LEDs really set the tone for the 308 GT – tasty and tasteful.

I remember the old 306 XSi from the 1990s with great affection – its 134hp 2.0-litre petrol engine wasn’t the most powerful in the class but its sublime chassis set-up and the way it handled made it so rewarding to drive. And the 308 GT is in the same vein.

Under the bonnet

It may be a warm hatch but both Euro 6 emissions standard engines pack plenty of punch – a 180hp 2.0-litre BlueHDi turbo diesel mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox in both hatchback and SW estate while the hatchback is also offered with a 205hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Keen drivers will love the turbo petrol, a willing and pleasant experience with strong low-down pull with maximum torque at 1,750pm and spinning freely to peak revs to unleash all 205 horses. – you make it as relaxing or raunchy a drive as you want to suit your mood.

Jekyll and Hyde

And it has two sides to its character – to be honest it’s a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. Press the sport button behind the gear lever – the driver sport pack is standard on 308 GT – and it transforms the car into dynamic mode. The dials turn red with power, boost and torque displays, throttle response is sharpened, steering input tweaked and the exhaust note amplified into a deep, throaty roar.

Even with all that power and performance, the 308 GT won’t break the bank to run with a real-world 38 to 45mpg overall.

Comfortable and composed

The 308 GT is all about the driving experience. The 308’s standard suspension is a good starting point but it has been lowered by 7mm at the front and 10mm at the back, and it sits on eye-catching 18in alloy wheels, but it hasn’t spoiled the ride. Yes, it’s firmer but still capable of ironing out poor roads with supple composure.

It also handles with verve, hugging the road through corners with a flat body stance and fast-reacting steering… and that small steering wheel just adds to the sporty feel.

At the wheel

I really like the minimal fascia – Peugeot calls it the i-Cockpit – with functions sunch as audio, climate, phone, settings and sat-nav controlled via the large touchscreen and you look at the high-level instruments over, rather than through, the steering wheel and the needle of the rev counter on the right goes anti-clockwise which takes some getting used to. My only gripe is the tiny glovebox which, being designed as a left-hand drive model, still has to house the fusebox.

Pace with space

At least there’s no problem with accommodation for loads and passengers in the five-door hatchback with decent legroom in the back and a vast 470-litre boot which grows to 1,309 litres with the 60/40 split rear seat backs folded – unfortunately they don’t go completely flat and leave a little step up from the boot floor.

Final say

The 308 GT may only be classed as a warm hatchback but it is no slouch. It’s fast but it’s not furious. It’s not a boy-racer car, it’s mature and grown up. But, most of all, it great fun to drive and will put a smile on your face as big as that front grille.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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