The astute among you might notice a slight change in my Peugeot 308 GTi — that it’s now black, rather than the previous ‘Hurricane Grey’.
That’s because my original GTi was involved in a serious accident on a Belgian motorway and was written off. This was an accident in the truest sense of the word, with those driving being innocent parties. Thankfully, the occupants are fine other than a couple of broken bones and will soon be fully recovered.
Before I talk about the new one, which is identical in every way other than the colour, it’s worth doffing a cap to the 308 GTi. Details aside, the incident highlighted just how effectively the car protects the people inside it from harm. The so-called crumple zone responded impressively to the head-on impact of a tree and certainly helped the occupants get away with their lives. Euro NCAP safety ratings don’t mean much to many, but this car has the top five-star classification in adult, child and pedestrian protection and when put to the test, it absolutely proved it’s worthy of the award.
So, on to less serious matters of practicality. While hot hatches such as our 308 GTi are favoured for their speed, part of their charm is their everyday usability.
Space in the car is impressive, most notably in the boot. It has 470 litres, which compares favourably with the 380 in the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the 316 in the Ford Focus ST, and it has an impressively wide and smooth-shaped aperture for loading and unloading.
So how does it fare for occupants? I enlisted two helpers, who just happen to be 6ft 2in-plus tall. Both were comfortable, with neither’s knees touching the seat or glovebox in front. That said, there wasn’t much wriggle room and the rear passenger complained that it was difficult to get out of the car (but then she is used to her Renault Scénic). Still, the 308 passed the space test, making it usable for the average family, while also being able to carry colleagues every so often.