Peugeot has announced a new 308 GT model – a car that until recently would have qualified as a full-blown hot hatch. But in 2014, with just 202bhp at best, it’s more of a tikka masala than a madras. Though with a promised blend of comfort and performance it could still prove an attractive alternative.
Not least because Peugeot will offer the new 308 GT as both a five-door hatchback and an SW estate, and with a 177bhp 2.0-litre HDi turbodiesel as well as a 202bhp 1.6-litre THP turbo petrol. So it looks like a milder rival to cars like the Octavia vRS and the Focus ST, if not hot hatch staples like the Golf GTI.
Is the Peugeot 308 GT more style than substance?
Like all good curries, the 308 GT certainly looks appetising. The design department has rolled out a new ‘Magnetic Blue’ paint option for that attractive French racing vibe, and the car is hunkered down to the road over 18-inch wheels on suspension 7mm lower at the front and 10mm lower at the rear.
It’s also done a reverse Scirocco, with Peugeot moving the lion badge from the bonnet to the grille for the GT. Bigger air intakes, modest sill ‘finishers’ and a lacquered black rear diffuser complete the makeover. The headlights are full LED units (62 diodes in total) with sequential indicators – again, unique to the GT.
There’s no word of any involvement in the chassis development from Peugeot Sport, which worked wonderful magic on the RCZ R. But the 308 GT does get suspension between 10-20% stiffer, depending on version, and the uprated dampers also employ hydraulic bump stops for reduced noise.
The aim is a balance of performance and comfort that sounds agreeably endearing – if Peugeot has pulled it off. The brake discs span 330mm at the front, utilising floating calipers; at the rear they’re 268mm in diameter on the hatch and 290mm on the SW estate.
Peugeot 308 GT: petrol or diesel?
The petrol seems the keener driver’s choice, serving up 210lb ft 1750-4500rpm in addition to 202bhp and a six-speed manual gearbox. Variable valve timing, a twin-scroll turbo and stop-start means it’s impressively efficient as well, with Peugeot claiming 130g/km CO2 and 50.4mpg. Power-to-weight is as high as 169bhp per tonne.
The 177bhp diesel is certainly muscular, offering 295lb ft at 2000rpm and 50-70mph in just 5.5 seconds using fifth gear. Emissions of 103g/km, 70.6mpg and 134bhp per tonne is certainly tempting, too. But Peugeot has curiously decided to pair it with a six-speed automatic exclusively – which even with steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters seems to further emphasise the model’s modesty.
Is it any sportier on the inside?
The interior gets anthracite trimmings brightened up by red stitching, alloy pedals and a GT-spec steering wheel. The dials have a chequered backing, there’s a ‘GT message’ on start-up (we’re intrigued…) and the graphics on the touchscreen get a red and black makeover, too. As with every 308, the steering wheel is unusually small, with high-set instruments above. Love or hate, it’s a 308 alright.
The GT also gets a sport mode, which Peugeot has dressed up as the rather fancy-sounding ‘Driver Sport Pack’. Activate this to amplify the engine noise, go to red alert in terms of illumination, and view power, torque, turbo pressure and g-meter on the instrument panel. The steering and accelerator mapping receives a tickle, as does the gear mapping in the automatic.
The new Peugeot 308 GT will star at the 2014 Paris motor show, is available to order in November and arrives in UK dealerships in January 2015. Expect to prices to start around £23,000.