The GTI moniker has a very strong following in local automotive circles. When a manufacturer attaches the three letters to the rear of one of its cars, you can rightfully expect a healthy level of performance. These days – especially in South Africa – we have a serious love affair with GTI models (just think of the number of Golf 5 and 6 GTIs on our roads). So, when a new one comes on the stage – enter the Peugeot 308 GTi – its merits are hugely debated.
Peugeot has supplied the GTi with the ubiquitous 1,6-litre turbocharged engine that can be found in a range of Peugeot and Mini models, in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged form. The engine was co-developed between BMW and Peugeot. In the 308 GTi, it musters 147 kW (the same as the Golf 5 GTI and 8 kW less than the Golf 6 GTI) and 275 N.m.
It’s difficult not to compare the GTi with GTI, but that would be doing the Peugeot a disservice – it’s more of a fast hatch than a hot hatch. Which begs the question: should a car with a GTi badge place driving performance above other features (looks, luxury and practicality)?
The 308 GTi is off to a good start, thanks to the vastly improved shift action of the six-speed gearbox. Most gearboxes from the PSA group have a vague and loose action that doesn’t inspire any confidence, even less so when you want to make a couple of quick shifts.
The good news continues with the engine. It’s eager and revs smoothly to the red line. However, with such a relatively small powertrain in a portly hatch, performance is brisk rather than healthy.
And except for the great engine, there’s nothing that motivates you to push this car harder and harder. The steering feel and handling are mediocre, and certainly not on the level of the best hot hatches.
So, it’s definitely not an exciting car to drive and won’t please hot hatch afficionados. But if you want the fastest, best-handling Peugeot 308, you won’t fault it … as long as you don’t expect a serious sportshatch.
Engine: 1,6-lite turbocharged petrol
Power: 147 kW between 5 800 r/min and 6 800 r/min
Torque: 275 N.m between 1 700 r/min and 4 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 7,7 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 237 km/h (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 6,9 L/100 km (claimed)
Price: R293 335
The price includes a five-year/90 000 km service plan and three-year/100 000 km warranty.