Which French automotive brand first won the Indianapolis 500? The answer would be Peugeot in 1913.
Which French automotive brand dominated the World Rally Championship in the 1980s? That would be Peugeot again…and we all know it was a Peugeot which Ari Vatanen drove on that memorable day at the Pikes Peak hillclimb which is one of the world’s most-watched video clips.
The point is Peugeot has a history in fast cars. So when word emerged of a GT model to boost the excellent 308 hatchback range (already European Car Of The Year) – well we knew it was going to be good.
Peugeot 308 GT Overview
“GT does not equal GTI and this car will be much easier as your daily driver,” was how Peugeot Australia boss John Statari introduced the new range-topper for the 308. It’s an important distinction – unlike a full-on GTI, a GT means you won’t need industrial strength earplugs in-place before you hit the throttle or your chiropractor’s number on speed-dial in case you run over a pebble.
And hints there is a road rocket still to come for the Peugeot 308 lineup.
In the meantime, the Peugeot 308 GThas arrived with a choice of turbocharged petrol or diesel engines, sportier suspension tune and just the right amount of exterior and interior enhancements – including high-tech inclusions such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assists - to engage with current and previous owners of high-performance Peugeots and also bring some newcomers to the famed French brand with the lion badge.
The bottom line is these high-performance hatchbacks are still the rage in Europe. And savvy local buyers looking for a fast European hatchback which won’t unduly shake their morning latte are well advised the check-out the Peugeot 308 GT.
Peugeot 308 GT’s two model lineup is:
|1.6-litre turbo petrol (six-speed manual)||$41,990|
|2.0-litre turbo diesel (six-speed automatic)||$42,990|
Peugeot 308 GT Engine
Petrol power comes from Peugeot’s e-THP 200 turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine. Maximum power is 151kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 285Nm arrives between 1750rpm and 4500rpm.
Compliant with Euro6 emissions standards, combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 5.6l/100kms and zero to 100km/h scores 7.5 seconds.
The turbo-diesel is from Peugeot’s ‘BlueHDi’ family and delivers 133kW of power at 3750rpm and peak torque of 400Nm at 2000rpm.
Also Euro6 compliant the Peugeot 308 GT turbo-diesel is good for combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.0l/100kms and for zero to 100km/h you can chalk-up 8.4 seconds.
The turbo-diesel drives through a six-speed automatic transmission developed by AISIN AW with steering column paddle shifters for manual changes. It’s a conventional automatic with a torque convertor but state-of-the-art developments such as low viscosity oil have lead to efficiency gains in the name of enhanced fuel consumption.
Petrol-engined Peugeot 308 GTs drive exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission.
Peugeot 308 GT The Interior
We give top points to the interior of the standard Peugeot 308 – such as the simple layout free of buttons and switches and the counter-rotating gauges (clockwise for the speedo, anti-clockwise for the rev-counter) are cool. Changes for the GT model are very impressive.
There’s a ‘chequered flag motif for the dashboard, red illuminated instruments, readouts for turbo boost pressure, power, torque and acceleration and alloy pedals. And the already compact Peugeot 308 steering wheel gets a nice perforated leather wrap.
Sports seats are handily bolstered and the driving position is nicely sporty. On the audio front we have a 9.7-inch multi-function touchscreen with satellite navigation and 6.9GB jukebox for music storage plus the usual connectivity.
Rear seat accommodation is reasonably roomy and the boot is impressive with 435-litres (rear seat in-place) or 1274-litres (rear seat folded).
Peugeot 308 GT Exterior & Styling
There’s a nice new paint colour exclusive to the Peugeot 308 GT called ‘Magnetic Blue’. Appropriately it is reminiscent of the French racing blue.
Otherwise subtle styling changes for the GT are well-done (again remember this is a GT not a GTi).
Highlights include the exclusive 18-inch ‘Diamant’ alloy wheels which are reminiscent of the RCZ R, new front air scoops, wide sill finishers, a rear diffuser and twin exhausts.
Up-front, the Peugeot ‘lion’ badge moves from the bonnet to a new-design grille with three horizontal blades, headlights are comprised of 62 LEDs each and the indicators are a dynamic function.
Peugeot 308 GT On The Road
The Peugeot 308 rides on Peugeot’s ‘EMP2’ flexible platform which it shares with the Citroen C4 Picasso. Suspension is a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear and for the GT model front ride height is reduced by 7.0mm and the rear by 10mm – to go with the 20 per-cent firmer tune for springs and dampers.
Extra grip comes courtesy of those 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres.
Over a full day on the familiar rural roads around Albury on the NSW-Victorian border we put both versions of the Peugeot 308 GT through their paces. Later a few laps around the TAFE driver training circuit in Wodonga allowed for a full-throttle blast.
We drove the diesel first and of course we went straight to the sport setting which brings into play the artificial extra exhaust noise. Reminiscent of the turbo-diesel Le Mans racers as we went full-throttle and worked the six-speed automatic in manual mode.
You must remember this is the Peugeot 308 GT – not a GTi – and while there isn’t neck-straining performance, the ample 400Nm of torque from the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel provided plenty of oomph under acceleration. Although slow gear changes using the paddle-shifters meant you had to get the timing of shifts spot-on to exploit things fully.
We give top marks to the Peugeot 308 GT’s ride and handling. Peugeot has struck a nice balance between sporty agility and comfort –plenty of grip and balance without being jarring.
But all things considered our favourite was the 1.6-litre turbo petrol variant. Sure, some may question the lack of an automatic transmission in this model, nevertheless the six-speed manual is nicely mated to get the most from Peugeot’s 151kW/285Nm four pot which loves to rev (maximum power at 6,000rpm).
Around the TAFE circuit the Peugeot 308 GT was a handy tool – nice turn-in and the expected understeer easily controlled with throttle input. It scored high on the ‘chuckability’ index.
Peugeot 308 GT Issues
Manual gear changes in the turbo-diesel (using the paddle-shifters) are a little slow.
Peugeot 308 GT Verdict
The ‘European Car Of The Year’ award doesn’t come in a cereal box. The fact is Peugeot has done a great job with the 308 – the equal of any European hatchback you care to name.
Good as the rest of the range is, the GT is a commendable range-topper. We like the styling changes (in fact the interior ranks as one of the best currently available) and both the petrol and diesel engines are winners.
As we said at the outset, these so-called ‘warm’ hatches are the rage in Europe and Peugeot has a history of good performance cars. Mark down the 308 GT as a worthy addition to that long line of great cars.
Peugeot 308 GT The Competition
With Volkswagen (the ‘king’ of turbo-diesels) strangely killing-off the excellent Golf GTD, the Peugeot 308 GT BlueHDi really goes head-to had with just the Mazda3 XD Astina. And, as the Peugeot is exclusively a six-speed auto, that means we’re talking just the six-speed auto Mazda3 XD Astina which is just a few hundred bucks cheaper at $42,230 ($42,990 for the 308 GT remember). You can get the Mazda in six-speed manual for $40,230. With 129kW/420Nm, Mazda’s twin-turbo 2.2-litre turbo diesel is virtually identical to Peugeot’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel. Great on-road dynamics for the Mazda3 too…so, as always, check the prices and specifications closely.
For the petrol Peugeot 308 GT, of course it’s the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The six-speed manual GTI will set you back $41,490 - $500 less than the Peugeot. Volkswagen has some serious extra muscle in the form of the 162kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre but to be fair this is the Peugeot 308 GT we’re considering, nit the GTi. No doubt the Golf’s ride and handling is considerably firmer than the Peugeot.