The engine is a good unit, although its character is very different to that of the GTi 30th. Instead of that car’s free-revving, high-end potency, the 308 GT version builds revs in a more leisurely, linear fashion. Initially this smoothness can dupe you into believing it’s not that quick, but a glance at the speedo brings home the realisation that it is - 0-62mph takes a respectable 7.5 seconds.
In the petrol GT (there’s also a diesel version), the engine drives through a six-speed manual gearbox. The ratios are well spaced to make the most of the car's broad torque spread, but it’s a shame that the rather long-throw gearshift doesn’t have the mechanical precision that some rivals possess.
Peugeot has made quite a number of changes to the suspension set-up on the 308 GT. The front ride height has been lowered by 7mm and the rear by 10mm, plus the dampers have been recalibrated and the springs stiffened. As you’d expect, these changes result in the GT acquiring a firmer ride, and it is noticeably more fidgety at speed than the standard car. However, there’s not much extra dynamic sparkle to compensate.
Challenge the GT in bends and there’s still a noticeable degree of body roll, but now, if you happen to come across a sharp bump mid-bend, the car will make a hop sideways as the dampers struggle to keep the wheels in contact with the road. Other than this it’s perfectly predictable, in the sense that it predominantly understeers - which can be trimmed with a feathered throttle – but otherwise it doesn’t feel much improved over the standard 308.
There is a Sport button that gives the GT more attitude. Press it and the dials instantly turn red, a readout appears – to feed you information on engine outputs and boost pressure – while the stereo augments the engine’s tune to make it sound vaguely (and rather oddly) like a flat-six. The button also weights up the steering, but, unfortunately, doesn’t boost its accuracy or feel. The brakes also suffer from an initial over-assistance, making them grabby until you learn to modulate the pedal pressure.
The 308’s cabin design is pleasing to look at and the materials used, at least in the prominent places, are of a decent grade. With most of the essential controls operated via the touchscreen it’s quite minimalistic, too. However, the absence of ‘real’ buttons does mean you have to swap between the various menus all the time, even just to change the air-con temperature.
The leather seats with their contrasting red stitching also add to the premium look and feel; they adjust to give plenty of head and leg room, offer good support and even come with a massage function to help de-stress while on the move.
It’s a shame that the small steering wheel doesn’t come back farther to match the seat's movement, though – if you're tall and need the seat extended right back it leaves your arms at full stretch. The wheel does have plenty of up and down travel, but with Peugeot’s i-Cockpit dial arrangement, some people will find the need to have it set unnaturally low to enable them to see the instruments. Your over-the-shoulder view is also limited by wide rear C-pillars, although a standard reversing camera goes some way to making amends for that.
In the back things are less spacious. Headroom is fine and on a par with many of the 308’s competitors, but the legroom is unusually tight so you’ll struggle to get two six-footers sitting fore and aft of each other. However, the boot’s a decent size at 470 litres and it’s well shaped, too.