Peugeot can’t seem to make their minds up when it comes to hot hatches. First of all they killed off the GTI badge in the UK and now, just a couple of months later, they’re giving their French buyers a brand new 308 GTI.
On paper the specs of this 308 GTI look good. It uses the same 1.6-litre engine (developed with BMW) as their previous sporty 308 GT, only it has a new twin-scroll turbocharger and uses direct injection to boost output to 200bhp between 5,500 and 6,800rpm. Torque is up to 275 Nm (203 lb-ft) between 1,700 and 4,500rpm and that makes the 308 GTI good for 0-62mph in just 7.7 seconds, and it’s all done through the front wheels and a six-speed manual gearbox.
To help cope with the extra power and the pace that’s on offer the GTI gets a tuned suspension setup with a 10mm lower ride height, as well as revised steering for quicker response. Brakes are upgraded to 340mm diameter discs at the front and 290mm at the rear.
From the outside there’s little to make the 308 GTI stand out from the rest of the range. 18-inch alloys are standard, there’s a black carbon-style insert under the restyled front bumper, a small roof-mounted spoiler, rear diffuser finished in black and twin chrome exhaust pipes. There are also GTI badges on the boot and front doors. Interior upgrades include front sports seats, aluminum foot rest and gear knob, and a leather sport steering wheel with a Golf-esque flattened bottom.
While this latest 308 may carry that evocative badge, it is hardly likely to set pulses racing in a marketplace full of 240-250bhp hot hatches. It will be priced at €26,900 in France, roughly £22k at today’s exchange rates, so it is a relatively cheap way to enter the 200bhp club but for £23k you can have a Renaultsport Megane 250 and £24k gets you into a Golf GTI.
While we may see a 308 with this engine on British shores, don’t expect to see it badged up as a GTI – it’s unlikely that Peugeot will risk a mauling from the motoring press and GTI officianados.