Manages to be both wild to drive and easy to live with
Plenty of ergonomic quirks to keep you busy, though
What is it?
Peugeot’s hot renaissance, the French firm rediscovering its joie de vivre after comprehensively losing it when it stopped making the 106/205/306 GTI. The 308 GTI is an enjoyable thing, but it’s got its work cut out if it’s got any hope of taking class honours, as it’s up against some very serious competition indeed – not least the established VW Golf GTI and Seat Leon Cupra and young upstarts like the Hyundai i30N.
Still, there are red stripes, dual exhausts, those three letters and some subtle styling revisions. The 308 GTI original launched with either 248bhp or 267bhp outputs; as the former did without a clever front differential, and the party this latecoming Frenchie rocked up up to seems to prefer big power outputs, then that 248bhp model felt somewhat irrelevant.
Enter the stringent WLTP regulations which have seen the higher powered model trimmed down to 258bhp and the base car lopped off the price list completely.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
It feels a bit Jekyll and Hyde, which does alienate it from its rivals, all of which try to please everyone, all of the time. The Peugeot fights them hard at its extremes – easier to live with when you’re driving it calmly, more thrilling when the mood strikes you – but doesn’t offer a better all-round proposition.
A Honda Civic Type R is astoundingly comfy given how much performance it offers, while the Hyundai i30N offers a good chunk of the 308 GTI’s fun at much lower commitment levels, with far more tactility to its controls. Find the opportunity to really push the Peugeot, though, and it can widen your eyes like few cars do at 30 grand.