2018 Peugeot 308 GTi 270 Road Test, Review
Peugeot’s 308 GTi is one of my favourite French cars of all time. I’ve owned several Peugeot and Citroen cars and they always leave a smile.
The brand is the world’s oldest, a fact most people don’t know.
270 refers to horse power, a term Australia hasn’t used since shortly after the days of pounds, shillings, and pence. 270hp equates roughly to 200kw, a term we are more familiar with.
Peugeot is an old hand at hot-hatching. It’s 205GTi was an early foray into the world of jaunty capped lads with, thick gold chains, and branded sneakers.
The brand has undergone a few changes under stewardship of new importer, Inchcape.
There is a new 5 year warranty, and both Citroen and Peugeot are now be sold in joint dealerships. There are 33 dealers for sales and service, and a further 2 for service only.
The sexy face of the 2nd generation 308 is a far cry from the dull, droop-nosed, first generation 308.
LEDs front and back not only give brighter, longer lasting light, but it gives Peugeot a chance to include signatures. Angry brows of DTRLs at the front, and Cats Claw tail lights which look like paws gripping the rear corners.
A deep curve cuts through the bumper, along under the grille and up into the headlights.
Another deep sculptural detail defines the upper and lower doors. It adds interest to what would have been a boring expanse of metal and gives the eye something to follow as you go from front to back.
The gym-fit look appeals to someone looking for something a little less likely to be parked next to an identical car in the Aldi car park.
19” Carbone wheels with Michelin Super Pilot 235/35 R19 low profile tyres look like a turbo blade schmeared in just a sensation of vegemite. Discs the size of dinner plates (380mm) up front have 4 piston Peugeot Sport brakes. The latter are painted in “look at me, look at me” red. Everyone knows you go faster with red.
There is a 5 grand optional two-tone paint job which is unique. Both colours are painted over an undercoat, not simply one colour painted over the top of the other. It is technically precise, just like the rest of the GTi.
A tasty cabin is mostly good news.
2nd generation i-Cockpit (1st generation appeared in the 208) doesn’t look quite a good as that in 3008 and 5008, but is still pretty damned cool.
i-cockpit consists of a small steering wheel with a couple of angular chunks carved out of a dash behind it. Driver’s instruments are a couple of dials for speed and engine revs with an LCD mini screen in between. It displays information like distance and fuel usage, and most importantly, a digital speedo.
The interior glows angry red when the Sport button is pressed as the dash changes colour.
The dial needles are a bit daft. Instead of both reading from left to right like every other car on the planet, they rotate towards the centre. They start from pointing outwards, to pointing inwards towards each other.
LEDs allow subtle mood lighting with lots of flexibility. Ethereal glows emanate from places you don’t expect. Footwells, doors, and the dash are gently washed with direct and indirect light. The effect is hypnotic at night, especially around with perimeter of the sunroof. A pool of blue makes the glass look like it is floating about the roof.
Deep sculptured Peugeot Sport seats are far more comfortable than they look. With red stitching, the leather/Alcantara saddles they include a massage and heating function.
Red stitching continues around the gear stick boot. The gear knob is sculptured, and you find yourself stroking it, feeling the lines around the red inserts. Sorry, I drifted off for a moment!
With 6 slots, the shifter sits at just the right height with nice short throws between gears. Reverse is found by lifting the little collar under the knob with two fingers. It saves having to pull faces while trying to find reverse, especially if you’re rushed doing a 3-poiner.
Sound is brilliant from a premium speaker setup.
Do you remember the days of thin, breathless, sound that needed resuscitation? Anyone who really enjoyed music had to resort to after market systems. The after market offerings have almost disappeared with new car’s infotainment systems fully integrated.
A 9.7” touch screen has permanent direct access buttons. SatNav with voice control is standard, as is phone mirroring, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Cars without a touch screen for CarPlay should be slapped.
There is an odd look to the centre stack.
A CD drive sits in the middle of an expanse that bugles like a full wine bladder.
The tablet floats above and looks pretty good. New versions of i-Cockpit have a more attractive double layer piano key arrangement (see our 5008 VIDEO review HERE). Besides, who under 60, uses an optical drive? It is functional, but not pretty in 308.
- Speed sign recognition and recommendation
- Premium sound system
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Driver attention alert
- High beam assistant
- Auto lights/wipers
- Semi automated parking
- Rear camera with all-round senors
- Blind spot monitor
- Enhanced sports exhaust (louder in spot mode)
Drive and Engine
308 GTi 270 pairs the award-winning Peugeot Sport 200kw/330Nm 1.6L turbo 4 cylinder to a slick 6 speed manual. There is no automatic tranny here. If you don’t like to shift ‘em yourself, move on.
At 125kw per litre, Peugeot says this is the highest output in the segment. Move over Golf.
Much of the tech driving the 308 GTi is hidden from view. The forged aluminium pistons have strengthened segments and connecting rods that are cooled from below by a double oil spray system. Bearings have been polymer enhanced and to finish it off, strengthened bolts. Only an engineer knows what that all means, but it sounds fast, right?
i-Cockpit is claimed to be a kind of head-up display. It isn’t, it just isn’t
At first, looking over the top of a tiny steering wheel feels completely wrong. If you allow yourself, it quickly becomes second nature. There is no doubt in my mind that a proper heads-up display projected on the windscreen absolutely has to happen. There is no reason why it can’t have both.
A quick look at the upcoming 508 shows that Peugeot is continuing the setup from the 5008/3008 with the 3rd generation i-Cockpit.
There is no rev matching as seen in Honda’s Type R and others. If there was, 308 GTi would be near perfect. None the less, gears and clutch work well together and are incredibly easy to use.
Peugeot steering is great as it is, but that fettled by Peugeot Sport is a thing to behold. It is sharp without being alarming. Calibration of the electric assistance gives the right balance between “feel” and useability. It is predictable.
Once in Sport Mode, a raspy note around back (fake, but who cares) heralds a sense of anticipation.
Everything tightens and gets urgent. Steering and throttle go a all mental. Tractions control is best left on, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
Suspension remains on the comfortable side of hard, just. GTi sits 11mm lower than the regular car so a slightly lower centre of gravity drives better, and looks better.
Shift in to 1st and let loose the dogs of war.
Hit the corners, and the sharpness of the chassis puts the hatch into a stance that propels like a sling shot. A Torsen LSD (Limited Slip Diff) helps stop drive wheels from slipping. This differs from cars which use ABS as an “electronic LSD” to imitate a mechanical setup.
Coming out the other side, hold the gear, the lower the better, blasts you forward like being shot from a cannon. Just don’t hit that rev limiter. It really kills the buzz.
The highway trip showed a capable hatch at home with bags, burgers, and boring rest stops.
Built for frisky trackwork, you’d expect the suspension to be as hard as nails after hours in the saddle. It certainly felt firm but never boring. It made the trip fun.
Those little additions like CarPlay and auto high beam leave a lot of the tedious stuff to the systems to take care of.
Cruise control keeps careful track of your speed but in a manual needs the Nms to keep the wheels rolling up steep hills without running out of puff. Unlike an auto, if the speed drops off too much, you need to shift down yourself. When you do, cruise will need resuming.
French Cup holders drive me nuts. 308 GTi has a different console to the run-of-the-mill 308s. there is only a single fold-out holder which lives like a troll, deep in the centre console behind the gear lever. Unfortunately, your cup will get stuck under the lip of the piano-black trim around the gear lever boot. A taller cup will fix the problem, but I found myself stuffing hankies into the hole to raise the level of a (reusable) coffee cup.
As long as there is tarmac to be had, there is nothing this car can’t do.
- 5 star (EUROncap tested 2014/15)
- Active Blind spot monitor/assist (as of Jan 2018)
- Lane Monitor/control (as of Jan 2018)
- 6 airbags
- Active high beam assist with auto dusk sensing
- Traction control with ABS
- Torson Limited Slip Differential
- Sexy looks
- Superb drive
- Apple CarPlay
Not So Good Bits
- Cup holder drives me spare
- Centre stack looks odd
- Cruise controls on hidden stalk
In January 2018, active lane control and active and active blind spot monitoring was added. At the same time, the price was reduced by $4,000.
Peugeot have kept the 308 GTi fresh and relevant, but hot hatches are not for everyone. Despite that, they have the advantage of 5 doors and the convenience of fold down read seats. It performs like a quick coupe, but is a tiny 4 cylinder turbo which appeals when it comes time to find a bowser.
The true joy of driving a hot hatch can’t be over stated. The practicality of a family car combined with the excitement of frisky performance makes a car for everyone. The days of rock-hard ride are gone, replaced by clever adjusting damping.
I had to dig deep to find something I didn’t like. The cupholders, cruise controls, and centre stack are minor niggles that are more talking points than deal breakers.
Any foibles vanish once the engine starts.
- RRP: $45,990
- Opt: $590 (Gris Aluminium)
- Price as tested: $46, 580
Here is a quick reference for changes in January 2018:
- Vehicle facelift included black chrome grille, new front spoiler etc
- Additional tech added: Active Lane Keep Assist, Active Blind Spot Monitoring (will steer you back to lane), Speed Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Alert, Smart Beam
- Warranty was increased from 3 year/100,000km to 5 year/ unlimited KM
- Price was revised down by $4,000 from $49,990 to $45,990
Facts and Figures: 2018 Peugeot 308 GTi 270
- Engine: 1.6L four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 200kW/330Nm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Warranty: 5/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: France
- Price: from $45,990
Author: Alan Zurvas