What's it like?
Appropriately, the GT is mildly better looking than the standard 308. Never the most dynamic presence, the addition of some extra air scoops and deeper sills lift the car just far enough into ‘modified’ territory to seem duly enhanced (although some may find the supplementary, and very fake, chrome exhausts a little too much to stomach).
The interior is better still. Already a 308 high point, the GT announces its range-topping status by maxing out on the amount of plastic masquerading as metal, and it succeeds, for the most part, in looking chunkily expensive. There’s a dash of anthracite and red stitching, too, which is all very tasteful, and the amply cushioned sport seats fit the billing. Needless to say the GT doesn’t fix the 308’s inadequacies in rear legroom, but then it couldn’t be expected to.
What is expected, is a little bit of va va voom once under way. Being a mainstay of Peugeot’s line-up, the fizzy four-pot provides this in a familiar way. It lacks the initial length of stride that a larger engine would provide but the 1.6-litre petrol four-pot is full of hard-edged enthusiasm at high revs. At 7.5sec to 62mph, the GT is decently racy rather than outright fast and better through the gears than climbing out of them - where you’ll typically have to wait half a second for the blower to catch up.
The pace, though, feels fit for purpose given the considerate nature of the chassis’ makeover. The recalibration described above is faithfully transcribed onto the road, the GT feeling, more often than not, like a very modestly stiffened 308 on low-profile tyres. It is slightly less prone to throttle-on understeer than the 208 GTI and it corners gamely, although its tenacity is inevitably limited by the consideration shown to maintaining a congenial ride quality. That’s forgivable; less excusable in this guise is the continued inconsistency of the steering, which still leaves you unsure of how much input to apply on the model’s notoriously downsized wheel. Instinctively fun the GT isn’t.
Should I buy one?
Despite the limitations of the handling, the car ticks many desirable warm hatch boxes. It’s good looking, appealing inside, well equipped, moderately pacey and, crucially, isn’t criminally expensive to run. Peugeot claims better than 50mpg from the petrol-powered GT, while its 130g/km CO2 emissions are lower than the equivalent (if outgoing) Focus Zetec S despite a 20bhp advantage.
However, when it comes to grins per mile, the Ford is the better endowed of the two. It is also significantly cheaper to buy. In the UK,the Peugeot costs £24,095 - almost £2k pricier than the incoming Focus ST-1, a car that will be, no questions asked, hot. Even allowing for more kit and a subjective touch of class, it’s hard to make a concerted case for Peugeot’s amiable reheat.
Peugeot 308 GT 1.6 THP
Price £24,095; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 202bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 210lb ft at 1750-4500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1200kg; Top speed 145mph; 0-62mph 7.5sec; Economy 50.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 130g/km/19 per cent