Peugeot 308 GTi: Cheap alternative to mainstream hot hatches
1. Hot hatch has a hot price
The Peugeot 308 GTi costs $44,990 on the road right now, or $1000 less than its regular sticker price before dealer delivery and registration fees. That should instantly earn it a place on hot hatch shortlists, given it undercuts the likes of the Hyundai i30 N in most states (Hyundai's drive-away deal ranges from $44,000-$48,000) and comes with the reassurance of a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, the industry standard these days unless you're buying a Toyota. Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km and the first three services come to a less-than-stellar $2020.
2. Feature list is extensive
Peugeot hasn't skimped on the features in the GTi, with a 9.7-inch infotainment screen packing smartphone mirroring and satnav, auto lights and wipers, airconditioned glovebox and front seats with a massage function. The safety suite has six airbags, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. AEB is an obvious omission on the go-fast 308, simply because it uses a manual gearbox. Materials in the passenger's line of sight generally look and feel classy; the plastics lower down in the cabin are less visually impressive but solid.
3. It's fast and frugal
The 308 uses a 1.6-litre turbo (200kW/330Nm) to propel its 1178kg from rest to 100km/h in just 6.0 seconds. The engine is docile enough low in the revs to be unobtrusive around town but comes alive as the tacho needle sweeps (anticlockwise) beyond 3000 revs. As with the Hyundai, a manual is the only transmission and the ratios are well chosen to keep the engine percolating on upshifts, though the throw is a touch too long for mine. Claimed thirst is just 6.0L/100km and we returned 7.8L despite some provocation, which is still impressive.
4. The cabin is compromised
Peugeot's approach to a head-up display has been to elevate the instrument panel to the top of the dashboard. The rationale being that it keeps the speedo in the driver's line of sight. The reality is that the small steering wheel obscures either the speedo or the dials depending on where it is set - most owners will set it low to avoid impairing vision. It isn't the most intuitive set-up and can't come close to a genuine windscreen-projected display.
5. Cargo capacity is class-leading
The 470L boot makes the 308 GTi a versatile performer relative to its hot hatch opposition. Flip down the 60-40 folding back seats and that space expands to 1309L. The rear seats just accommodate three adults, which is what you'd expect from a car this compact, but rear legroom is tight if those up front have the seats set back. Storage space is limited and the single cup-holder nestled between the front pews won't take larger bottles.