The GT hatchback comes with a choice of two sports engines, a 1.6-litre THP turbocharged direct injection petrol unit with 205hp mated with a six-speed close ratio manual gearbox and priced at £24,095.
For higher mileage users there is the option of a 2.0-litre BlueHDI 180hp turbodiesel unit with a six-speed automatic transmission priced at £25,945. The 308 GT SW estate, given its likely business users role in motoring life, is only available with the 180hp turbodiesel unit and auto gearbox and costs £26,845.
I have just had a driving spell in the 308 GT five door hatchback with the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged direct injection petrol engine which produces 205hp at a high 6,000rpm but more important for a petrol engine it produces an impressive 285Nm of torque from only 1,750rpm thanks to its twin-scroll turbocharger. Coupled with its six-speed close ratio manual gearbox it is a pleasure to use for fuss-free daily travel both in and out of heavy traffic and then it comes to life on the open road for more enthusiastic driving.
On some occasions I was able to justify pushing the Sport button positioned on the centre console. This sharpened up the throttle response and steering but it doesn’t adjust the car’s dampers for more firmness. But it turns the dials red and you’ll get a synthesised sports exhaust tone emitted through the car’s speakers.
The GT suspension over other versions has revised damper settings and the ride height has been lowered by 7mm at the front and 10mm at the rear. The car sits on 18-inch alloy wheels and despite the lowering of the suspension, the firming up of the dampers and the use of larger wheels was one of the most impressive features of the GT because it didn’t harm the ride quality.
The ride was compliant so it made a pleasant change to drive a sports hatchback which didn’t give a spine-jarring ride over winding country roads and on open road trips the ride was comfortable with little road noise intrusion.
When it came to cut-and-thrust driving there was some understeer during fast cornering causing the traction control light to flicker on and the steering at higher cornering speeds didn’t communicate that well with me. The 308 GT isn’t as sharp in the handling department as its rivals such as the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf GTi or SEAT Leon FR but it has other attributes such as ride comfort.
Completing the GT’s exterior embellishments is the Peugeot iconic Lion emblem which has moved from the bonnet to the grille, there are LED headlights, new indicators, air scoops into the engine bay, tinted windows, wider side sill finishers and at the rear there is a diffuser with twin exhaust tailpipes, GT badging on the tailgate, front grille and front wings.
Inside there is a nice combination of upmarket ambience and sports design. This is no stripped-out hard-core road racing machine, it is very well equipped and adopts Peugeot’s new i-Cockpit design where the fascia has been de-cluttered of switches and controls which are now accessed via the centrally mounted tablet style touchscreen.
This is not a feature I like because, as an example, just changing the temperature or the air distribution, fan speed or switching on the air-con takes time moving through pages and to be honest taking your eyes off the road to make these adjustments just isn’t to be recommended. The standard fit sat-nav system is also slow to operate with the touchscreen.
As with other modern Peugeot models the rev counter, speedo and fuel/temperature gauges are positioned in a cowled instrument panel in front of the driver but this has to be viewed over the small diameter steering wheel and I know shorter drivers find this layout a bit of a compromise despite the fact that the compact wheel can be adjusted for height and reach.
Today’s Peugeots I find generally have classy high quality interiors and the GT follows this trend with red stitching for the part leather Alcantara upholstery on the sports seats, the fascia, door panels, gear lever gaiter and floor mates. Aluminium pedals and stainless steel sill finishers complete the sports design interior.
In addition my test car had the full leather seating option which includes heated front seats and costs an extra £1,200. But included as standard is Peugeots Open & Go keyless entry/push button start system and the very welcome Driver Assistance Pack which includes dynamic cruise control, emergency collision alert and braking system.
The addition of the GT variants to the Peugeot 308 range combines sportier performance with a smart looking exterior and a well specced welcoming interior. It might not be the sharpest handling hatchback in the current array of GT family orientated models but it has a lively fuel and tax efficient engine and above all it brings added pace in comfort.
Those wanting even more performance and a likely less comfortable ride will have to wait until the full-blown new 308 GTi 270hp version arrives later this year.
Peugeot 308 GT THP 205hp, 5-Door hatchback £24,095. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, variable valve timing, direct injection turbocharged petrol engine, 205hp, 285Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed close ratio manual gearbox. Performance: 146mph, 0-62mph 7.5-seconds, 43.4mpg on test, CO2 130g/km, VED road tax £ £0 First Year/£110 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 21%.
Insurance group: 26E Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles.
For: Comfortable ride, classy interior, well equipped, good fuel economy and reasonable tax costs, a reasonable turn of pace.
Against: Not the fastest accelerating or sharpest handling GT type family hatchback on the market, limited rear seat leg room, use of the tablet style touchscreen to operate some basic controls such as the heater.