Peugeot’s resurgent fascination with the hot hatch continues with the launch of the 308 GTI, a model intended to contest the segment’s busy middle ground with cars like the Seat Leon Cupra and the Ford Focus ST.
What is it?
A five-door only model that will come as two variants: the entry-level and slightly lower powered 250 and the 270, a car that benefits from the Torsen limited slip differential we’ve already seen in the low-slung RCZ-R.
Styling enhancements are found in the usual places - the GTI gets an exclusive black grille, additional spoilers and intakes, sill extenders, a gloss black diffuser and twin exhausts. However, they been applied with a good deal of modesty, the onus here being on efficiency as much as extravagance.
That said, Peugeot Sport (the manufacturer’s performance division) hasn’t spared the whip on the underside. Compared with the GT, the GTI sits a full 11mm closer to the ground on wider tracks and dramatically firmer springs. Bigger wheels also feature, as do uprated brakes.
What engines are there?
Just one: Peugeot’s current go-to performance lump, the four-cylinder 1.6 THP. As mentioned, it’ll be available in two flavours, 247bhp and 268bhp although peak torque will remain at 243lb ft no matter which option you choose.
Both drive the front wheels via a manual six-speed gearbox, and you can expect 62mph to take 6.2 and 6.0 seconds respectively. If those are competitive figures, the efficiency is exemplary: Peugeot claims CO2 emissions of 139g/km - a 20g/km improvement over the Focus ST.
How much equipment is there?
We won’t know that for sure until Peugeot spec the UK version, but expect its status as a range-topper to be reflected in the cabin.
Certainly the more expensive 270 will receive bucket seats, and the Drive Sport Pack - which includes a sport button to adapt engine noise and throttle response - will feature.
Externally, there’s also the £1300 option of the Coupe Franche livery, a body-bisecting combination of a black and red paint job. Alternatively, you can stick to one of six other conventional options.
How much will it cost?
Early word is that the 270's pricing will start at just over £28,000 and the 250 will be around £2000 cheaper. Expect those prices to be confirmed closer to the model’s on-sale date towards the end of the summer.
Can I get a discount?
Too early to say but this is a competitive market without a huge volume of buyers.
How good are its rivals?
Very. There are some household names among them, and (without discounts) the 308 GTI is not aggressively priced.
Certainly the car looks set to be a good prospect in terms of running costs, but that’s not typically the priority among hot hatch customers. The 308 will first have to prove itself the dynamic equal of the Focus ST, Leon Cupra, Golf GTI and the Renaultsport Megane - all rightly popular.