First DriveIf you’ve got a penchant for French metal and you’re after a spacious, frugal and generally inoffensive family hatchback, then the 308 makes a good case for it
First DriveRefined, economical and pleasant enough small estate that’s also practical
What is it?
The most sporting iteration of the new 308 hatch, the 173bhp 1.6-litre GT.
The Peugeot 308, like its 307 forebear, has what its creators call ‘semi-tall architecture’. This quasi-MPV body style does not lend itself to performance variants. But then this range-topping 308 GT isn’t exactly an out-and-out hot hatch.
While you do get the same turbocharged motor from the 207 GTi (and the Mini Cooper S), a new six-speed manual gearbox, and a 140mph top speed, the emphasis is on warm rather than scorching.
What’s it like?
New 18-inch alloys and a rear spoiler lift the exterior (just about) out of the mundane, while the cabin gets the lovely leather-bound steering wheel from the 407 coupé and a chunky aluminium gearknob to let you know something sporty’s going on.
The mildly sporting flavour continues when you switch on the engine and move off. The turbocharged engine is smooth, revs freely and delivers its full 180lb ft (195lb ft on ‘over-boost’) from just 1600rpm up to 4500rpm. It never feels truly exciting, but it delivers enough punch to be fun when you want it.
Get to a corner and there’s plenty of roll, but the GT’s sharper-geared steering means the car turns in enthusiastically and there’s plenty of grip once you’re settled into the bend. Ride comfort also seems no worse than on the standard hatch - quite a compliment considering those big wheels.
Should I buy one?
The 308 GT is a bit like the old Focus ST170 - a compromise between comfort and agility. But for someone who wants occasional fun and regular comfort, that’s not a bad compromise.
The problem is more frugal diesel-powered rivals like the Toyota Auris SR180 and the VW Golf GT TDi 170, but if you don’t mind the extra running costs, the 308 GT is more fun than either.