Back in 2010 Peugeot revealed their hottest 308 and slapped a ‘GTI’ badge on its rump before selling it across mainland Europe. Here in the UK we got the same car but it was called a ‘GT’ instead. It may seem like an odd move but that missing ‘i’ says a lot more about the 308 GT than you might think.
The Peugeot 308 GT THP 200, to give it it’s fill title, is the quickest 308 to date. Powered by the same 200bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine as the stylish RCZ it will hit 60mph in 7.5 seconds and flat out it can cover 147 miles in an hour. That’s none too shabby but these days anything taking over seven seconds to reach 60mph starts to look a bit inadequate.
That’s why the GT badge makes so much sense. Bringing the 308 to the hot-hatch-crazy UK market badged up as a GTI would have been akin to painting a big bullseye on it and asking the motoring press to take potshots. That’s before you consider the rose-tinted memories of the 306 GTI-6, the legendary 90s hot hatch that left an enormous pair of shoes for future GTIs to fill.
The 308 GT is only available as a five-door hatchback with none of the coupe-esque shenanigans that its rivals indulge in. With a discrete rear spoiler it doesn’t shout about its performance and only the standard black 18-inch wheels and front LED running lights mark the GT out as the sporty model. Heck, there aren’t even any GT badges to give the game away. If you like your hot hatches to boast about their credentials then you may be disappointed by the 308’s understated looks. On the other hand, it’s great for catching other drivers unawares.
Inside you’re treated to comfortable and supportive half-leather seats, dual-zone climate, cruise control, speed limiter, rear parking sensors, auto-folding mirrors, auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, and a stereo with USB and MP3 compatibility, all as standard. The optional panoramic sunroof (£370) with its electrically sliding blind lends the cabin a bright and airy feel and, even though the glass doesn’t open, it really does lift the ambience inside.
Chrome highlights contrast with gloss black panels on the dash with easy-to-read white dials in the instrument cluster. It’s a shame the 308 can’t inherit the same high-res LED displays as seen in the 208 as the red-on-black LCD displays are starting to look a bit dated, and some of the plastics on show fall behind the standards of some rivals.
Rear accommodation is good with plenty of room for large child seats and decent leg room for adult passengers. That leg room isn’t at the cost of boot space either, with a decent 430 litres of space to fill (1398 if you drop the rear seats).
The engine shares the same zest for life as it does in the RCZ and comes with the same snappy six-speed manual gearbox. It’s a great pairing that make the 308 feel livelier than the figures suggest, topped off by a sporty exhaust note. The resonance chamber tucked away inside the exhaust system adds a depth and character to the high revving antics and, while you know the noise you’re enjoying in the cabin isn’t quite the real thing, it’s difficult not to enjoy it.
At first you may think the 308 GT is a bit too soft. The suspension is very supple and both driver and passengers benefit from a comfortable ride that does a great job of masking imperfections in the road. That might lead you to think that the GT will be all soft and woolly when the pace picks up but once you start to make rapid progress you find that the 308 can easily handle it.
It might not reward keen drivers like a Renaultsport Megane would but it is a lot easier to live with when you’re not on maximum attack down your favourite road. The steering uses a variable-assistance rack and lacks ultimate feel but you can still place the 308’s nose right where you want it in a corner.
The smaller capacity of the 200 THP helps to keep the fuel bills down. Official economy is rated at 40.9 mpg and CO2 emissions are kept down to 159 g/km, resulting in a Band G rating for car tax. Succumb to the temptation to stretch the THP engine and you won’t see much above 30mpg but in the week I spent with the 308 it covered 470 miles at an average of 36.7mpg. The 308 GT sits in group 30 of 50 on the insurance scale.
The Final Reckoning
In sheer performance terms the 308 GT can’t compete with the likes of the Golf GTI, Megane 265, Focus ST and Astra VXR. What it does do is undercut those cars by at least £4,000 and still offer decent thrills. If you can ignore the taunts of your mates when they start quoting horsepower figures you’ll find that the 308 GT is a quick car and one that you can enjoy driving quickly. It won’t try to kill you with masses of torque steer and it won’t shake your fillings loose with a shatteringly stiff ride. It’s a great all rounder – quick, comfortable and not too expensive to run. The Peugeot 308 is more of a GT than a GTI which, funnily enough, is exactly what it’s claiming to be.
Peugeot 308 GT 200 THP Scores
|PERFORMANCE||THP engine is eager to please and sounds great||8|
|HANDLING||Comfortable yet still capable through the corners||7|
|AFFORDABILITY||Much cheaper than the usual hot hatch crowd||7|
|DESIRABILITY||Discrete looks and lack of GTI appeal hurt the GT||6|
|DRIVING SPIRIT||More fun than you might expect||7|
Peugeot 308 GT 200 THP Specifiations
|Engine:||1,598cc 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Top Speed:||147 mph|
|Kerb Weight:||1,474 kg|
|CO2 Emissions:||159g/km (Band G)|
|Price (As Tested):||£23,725*|
*Prices taken from Peugeot website, October 2012