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Potent Peugeot 308 GTi really hot stuff

11:55 13 February 2016

Peugeot is back in the compact family hot-hatchback market with the 308 GTi and it's a real challenger.

Peugeot is back in the compact family hot-hatchback market with the 308 GTi and it's a real challenger.

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Peugeot makes a very welcome return to the family hot-hatch market with the 308 GTi, says Matt Kimberley.

What’s new?

You’re looking at Peugeot’s first return to the compact family hot-hatch market since the much-loved 306 GTi-6. And the latest 308 is a fantastic base from which to start.

The 246bhp and 266bhp versions share a highly turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine but the latter wears upgraded British-made Alcon brakes, larger, lighter wheels, sportier bucket seats and a Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential. The price difference is modest, too.

Peugeot 308 GTi 270

Price: Peugeot 308 GTi 270, from £28,155

Engine: 1.6-litre, 266bhp, four-cylinder turbo petrol

Transmission: Six-speed manual driving front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 6.0 seconds; top speed 155mph

MPG: 47 combined

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Looks and image

The 308 is a tidy-looking car as it is, but the lower stance of the GTi brings out unexpected muscle in the curvaceous shape. The GTi 250 is 11mm lower than standard, but the 270’s ride height shifts back to normal thanks to larger wheels.

GTi badges are everywhere, so you’re in no danger of forgetting you’re in a spicy one. The 270’s seats look especially good with their high side bolsters and contrasting red stitching.

Space and practicality

The beauty of a hot hatch is that it’s a practical hatchback at heart. Put the back seats down and you can transport a chest of drawers, and very quickly. There isn’t much storage in the cabin, though.

Fortunately the GTi is spec’d up and comes with a reversing camera, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and a 12-volt power point for charging small devices. Sequential ‘scrolling’ indicators are a nice touch, too.

Legroom in the back is very reasonable, and there’s no shortage of headroom.

Behind the wheel

The 250 is balanced, fast, poised and, at 1,205kg fully-fuelled, a lightweight. But the 270 improves the package in loads of ways that you only discover when you drive them back to back. The power and feel in the Alcon brakes is incredible, and the Torsen diff lets the car hold tighter lines at higher speeds through potentially tricky corners. The variable-spring rate suspension is tuned well for British back-roads and the steering quick and precise.

Sharper engine responses in Sport mode are joined by suddenly very red instruments but the artificial engine noise actually takes away from the drive. It’s just as fast in normal mode and feels more rounded.

Above 3,000rpm turbo lag is negligible, below that it gives some throttle response away to 2.0-litre rivals. Peak torque is maintained 1,500rpm longer in the 270.

Value for money

The 270 is £1,600 more but you get all that extra equipment, higher residual values, a better drive and more fun. Its price is right in the thick of the best front-wheel drive hot hatchbacks so it’s competitive rather than a bargain.

Who would buy one?

Hot hatchbacks have broad appeal and a practical hatchback with serious performance can win plenty of favour. It has style and a measure of comfort on its side, too. It’s a real challenger, and a real GTi.

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Andy Russell

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