Nat Barnes, Motoring editor, looks at how the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT embodies the pedigree of a thoroughbred racehorse.
Just how do you define pedigree? In theory, it should be easy. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s “the history or provenance of a person or thing, especially as conferring distinction”.
In practice, however, achieving that pedigree is a rather different matter. A darn sight harder, too. After all that ‘provenance’ isn’t something that comes about overnight. It’s achieved over years and decades of experience and success, and is something that can only be earned from others, not claimed. The New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT perfectly illustrates how pedigree often emerges from a history of power and precision.
Being the best
When it comes to racing, the reality is that second best is never good enough. Does anyone remember who came second in the Epsom Derby or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe?
The New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT is bred to be at the front of the pack, capable of 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds with 270 horsepower. When it comes to pedigree, this GTi has the kind of bloodline history that most hot hatches – or Derby winners for that matter – would probably kill for.
Driving enthusiasts are always keen to quote the huge success of the 205 GTi (294,514 sold, more than 60,000 of which in the UK), which only serves to illustrate the lasting popularity of the Peugeot GTi brand. More than 75,000 of the 309 GTi and 306 GTi were produced during the respective periods, and 34,629 of the diminutive 106 GTi were sold in its seven-year lifetime. The message is clear – Peugeot’s bloodline in hot hatches is backed up by years of great cars and fervent supporters. As pedigree stables go, few do horsepower better than this.
With such a well-storied history for the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT to live up to, the pressure is on before a wheel is even turned. Fortunately, this new addition to the GTi family delivers on every front from the moment you first take a look at the eye-catching paintwork.
Continuing the striking colour scheme from the New 208 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT, the Coupe Franche paintwork has been reversed to black at the rear and red at the front, and also uses metallic paint throughout rather than the matt black on the 208. The Coupe Franche finish is unique, setting the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT apart from its hot hatch rivals.
Under the bonnet
Under the hood there’s proof that beauty isn’t skin deep, with plenty of precision engineering to form the foundations. The turbocharged 1.6-litre engine comes in two versions; 250hp or 270hp. The latter is capable of a 0-62mph dash in 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 155mph, with both versions also able to produce 139g/km emissions and 47.1mpg on an average combined drive cycle, figures that are astounding given the turn of pace available at the touch of a button. Not so long ago, an everyday frugal family saloon would have been happy with that kind of economy, let alone a hot hatch like this.
But make no mistake, performance hasn’t been sacrificed for parsimony – both are available in equal measure. And how. The New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT is a spectacular beast, from the 19” aluminium Carbone wheels to the GTi logo on the tailgate.
Out on the roads
On the twistier roads, the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT shows off stunning grip and exemplary handling. With swift and smooth acceleration, the 1.6-litre engine under your right foot combines performance through the rev range with the 270hp incarnation being class-leading for the size. Push the Sport button on the centre console and it heightens the experience further still.
There’s no hint of lag from the turbocharger, just immediate and instant progress. Power is nothing without control, and here the car excels giving you instantaneous feedback allowing you to make minute adjustments before, during and after corners.
The reality is that point-to-point progress this swift would have been the preserve of supercar drivers not so many years ago. The New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT allows you to string a series of bends together with total confidence thanks to the ride height, which is 11mm lower than the standard 308, minimising body roll resulting in exemplary handling with plentiful grip levels from the superb Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
The standard Torsen Limited-Slip Differential on the 270hp version only maximises that, adding to the car’s cornering ability. By redistributing torque when cornering, the Torsen Limited-Slip Differential maintains speed through corners and retains traction in varied grip conditions. This is a car that doesn’t just flatter you as a driver, it encourages you to take full advantage of its abilities; building confidence and enabling you to become at one with it, in perfect synchronicity, in much the same way as jockey and horse.
A different breed
Some of the best modern hot hatches can match the cornering performance, so what is it that makes the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT so good? The answer, ironically, comes when you turn off that twisty road, onto an everyday dual carriageway or even your local high street. Making a fast car go quickly isn’t too much of a problem – making the same car liveable in day-to-day commuting is where many of the notable rivals fall down.
Plenty of other cars at this level are one-dimensional closet racers, unable to provide their driver and passengers with anything other than a flat-out experience at all times, whether they like it or not. What makes the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT stand out from the crowd is the flexibility, allowing it to be a superb track day car and a great everyday set of wheels, too. Peugeot’s engineers claim that it’s good enough for the school run and a circuit, and it’s hard to disagree. It’s the equivalent of that racehorse we mentioned earlier having the same practicality and docility, when you want it, as a Shire horse.
Where you expect the car to be over-keen, steering too jumpy and darting at every camber-change in the road, and with a spine-crushingly hard ride, there’s just a comfortable and refined hatchback. There’s an impressive and reassuring depth of maturity and realism that’s hard to match elsewhere, giving you the confidence to load the kids in the back after having an adrenaline-filled weekend breaking lap times. And best of all, it takes one push of that Sport button to enhance the experience further with sportier pedal mapping, red lighting across the dashboard dials and amplified engine noise in the cabin.
Heritage and bloodline
This, in turn, brings us back to where we started and the impressive depth of pedigree. Is the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT as good as some of its Peugeot hot hatch predecessors? Is it good enough to live up to the Peugeot heritage and bloodline?
The simple answer is no it’s not; this car is far better than that. It’s a tough sentence for those historical Peugeot enthusiasts to read, perhaps, but the reality is that this is more talented, provides better handling, and is more capable and flexible than anything that has gone before. The continued success of Peugeot’s GTi bloodline starts here. We’re under starter’s orders.
The pro driver’s view
Bradley Philpot, 29, is a Peugeot Racing brand ambassador and was the British winner of the Peugeot 208 GTi Racing Experience Competition in 2013.
As a result Bradley was entered into the 24hr race at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, where the team won its class for the fourth successive year. He was fortunate enough to be one of the first to drive the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT, and shared his thoughts with us.
So, Bradley, you’re familiar with a number of hot hatches. How does the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT compare?
Straight away you can feel the extra power of the New Peugeot 308 GTI by PEUGEOT SPORT. This is my first experience of this car on a track and it’s already giving me much more of a thrill than I might have expected from a road car.
In which areas do you think the new Torsen Limited-Slip Differential makes a difference?
When you’re trying to use all of that extra power it really helps when accelerating out of some of the tighter corners. In situations where you’d normally be spinning the inside wheel in a tight corner, it just drives you out of the bend. When you’re pushing relatively hard you can absolutely feel the Torsen Limited-Slip Differential working for you.
Now that you’ve had the chance to drive the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT on the road and on the track, what do you think?
It’s great. I had a huge grin on my face the whole time I was driving.
Often road cars can struggle on circuits with lots of understeer, but that’s not the case here. The car went exactly where I asked it to. There’s plenty of torque to use to your advantage and everything is perfectly under your control – exactly what you want from a hot hatch.
Find out more
More details on the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT can be found at the dedicated website. You can read about the technical specifications, where to test drive the car or how to select the various options to suit your needs.
If you’d like to race the New Peugeot 308 GTi by PEUGEOT SPORT right now, try the Peugeot Pocket Racing game, which is available for iOS devices and can be downloaded at peugeot.co.uk/apps-peugeot-pocket-racing