What Car? says...

The Peugeot 308 GTi is designed to restore the brand’s once legendary reputation among petrolheads.

Recent Peugeot models such as the discontinued RCZ R and 208 GTi 30th Anniversary impressed us with their intense focus and playful handling, but the 308 GTi will have to be a more rounded machine if it wants to make a true impact in the hot hatch sector.

Thankfully, this hot Peugeot has a lot going for it - on paper at least. For one, it’s based on the standard 308, a car that was a massive improvement over the mediocre 307 that proceeded it.

What's more, Peugeot Sport has had a hand in developing the car, so it gets the powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the RCZ R, significantly lower suspension and uprated brakes, plus a limited-slip differential to improve traction. It’s a significant overhaul, no doubt, but with a never-ending stream of exceptionally talented hot hatches being released, you have to question if they're enough to put the 308 GTi ahead of the pack.

Over the next few pages we'll see if it has what it to get the better of the Ford Focus RS, Seat Leon Cupra 300 and Volkswagen Golf GTI.



The Peugeot 308 GTi is fast and well equipped, but it isn't as involving to drive or as practical as the best hot hatches.

  • Powerful yet clean engine
  • Supportive seats
  • Large boot
  • Numb steering
  • Vague gearshift
  • Tight rear leg room

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Given that most of its rivals have 2.0-litre turbocharged engines, you might think that the 308 GTi and its 1.6-litre motor would leave you feeling shortchanged. But despite its small displacement, it can kick every bit as hard (harder on paper, in fact) than the Golf GTI.

Plant your right foot and the car pulls keenly throughout its rev range, delivering a progressive and strong flow of power.

The relatively aggressive limited-slip differential also helps to get all that power to the road, although you do occasionally feel the steering wheel writhing in your hands when you accelerate hard.

There's plenty of grip, too, although the Focus RS is even better in this area, and the 308 GTi isn't as poised or precise as the best hot hatches.

Steering that's quick to respond but rather numb is largely to blame. Around town, the 308 GTi is agile and accurate enough, but as speeds increase, the front end feels increasingly darty. Quite often it can take multiple stabs at the wheel before you discover just how much lock you require for a quick corner. Combined with a vague manual gearbox, this makes things all a bit clumsy.

That said, despite not being the most involving hatch on the market, the 308 GTi is still startling quick point to point. And while the ride can be a bit firm, it’s still quite comfortable by class standards.


Peugeot 308 GTi


The interior layout, fit and finish

As you’d expect from a top-of-the-range model, the 308 GTi is garnished with plenty of extra design details and equipment. The general layout is that of the regular 308, of course, but the subtle tweaks are worthy of a car looking to compete with upmarket rivals such as the Golf GTI.

The 308 GTi’s bucket seats, which are trimmed in leather effect and Alcantara, are of a high perceived quality and the perforated leather steering wheel feels supple in your hands.

A Sport button on the centre console allows the driver to increase the responsiveness of the engine, change the instrument panel colour to red (from white) and display certain information such as acceleration, power delivery and turbo pressure.

However, despite its sleek and minimalist design, not everything in the 308 GTi is logically set out. The driving position is compromised by Peugeot’s 'i-Cockpit' control layout, which places the instruments high on the dashboard. In an effort to ensure you have correct line of sight, the seat is positioned slightly too high for a hot hatch, and despite this compromise, smaller drivers will still find the dials are obscured by the steering wheel rim.

Thankfully, the standard car’s impressive 9.7in touchscreen is carried over to the GTi. The system comes packed with features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink, each of which allows you to use some of your smartphone’s features, including sat-nav, through the car's touchscreen. However, if you don’t like the idea of using your mobile data, the unit comes with a fully integrated sat-nav system, with three years of Tom Tom Live sat-nav updates provided at no extra cost.

The only problem we had arose when trying to use the infotainment system's menus, as some of the smaller icons are tricky to hit on the move. If only Peugeot had fitted separate controls for basic functions such as the air conditioning.

Much of the interior benefits from smart trim, but there are some signs of cost-cutting, including a large swathe of hard, scratchy plastic beneath the centrally mounted touchscreen.


Peugeot 308 GTi

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Although the front seats are mounted fairly high up within the car, tall people will still have plenty of head and leg room. The sports seats are a little short, in both the bottom cushion and the backrest, but their lateral support is exceptional.

In addition, Peugeot provides a couple of generously sized door bins and room beneath the central armrest for storing keys and other small valuables out of sight. 

Further back, the second-row seats are short on both head and leg room compared with the Focus RS and Golf GTI. However, the 308’s boot can accommodate more luggage than both of these rivals, and thanks to 60/40-splitfolding rear seats, you can expand that space when the need arises. The only disappointment is that the seatbacks don’t lie completely flat when you do so.


Peugeot 308 GTi

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

With the quality and diversity of the hot hatch market increasing at an unprecedented rate, the 308 GTi would have a hard time making a case for itself based on driving dynamics alone. This is something Peugeot is clearly aware of, because the 308 GTi is priced very competitively.

Every model receives a plethora of exterior trimmings which includes sporty side skirts, an aggressive front bumper and rear diffuser, a large twin exhaust system, lightweight 19in wheels, parking sensors, LED headlights and automatic lights and wipers.

Inside meawhile, there's dual-zone climate control, cruise control, and Peugeot's 9.7in infotainment touchscreen complete with sat nav, a reversing camera, a DAB radio, a USB port and Bluetooth capability.

And although it's a hot hatch, it’s also worth considering the 308 GTI’s competitive position on CO2 emissions and company car tax liability. Compared with the Focus RS, Leon Cupra 300 and Golf GTI, the 308 is significantly more fuel efficient and less polluting.

Standard safety kit is comparable with that in most rivals (six airbags come as standard), plus Peugeot offers a Driver Assistance Pack that brings several desirable extras. These include adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.

Security kit includes an engine immobiliser and deadlocks, plus the 308 GTi gets a Thatcham Category 1-approved alarm as standard.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


Peugeot 308 GTi