img src: www.peugeot.com
When it comes to designing truly stunning cars the Italians do tend to have the best track record. The Germans tend to make the most reliable and well built cars and the French…well the French have always done things their own way. Brands like Citroen have often pushed the design envelope and almost literally thrown any kind of rule book out the window. Peugeot may not have been quite as left field in their design but they have also made a lot of “very French” cars over the years. Alongside these more stereotypical efforts Peugeot’s GTi badge has found its way onto a few rather feisty cars too. The 205 GTi was an 80s icon and looks wise the 306 GTi6 was even better. After that things in the GTi camp got a little flat; until now that is! The new 308 GTi may just be the car to take things to a new level.
There is simply no debate, well not in my head anyway, the 308 GTi is a very pretty car indeed. It walks that very thin line between aggression and beauty almost perfectly. The wide and brutish stance is perfectly tempered but the smooth and feminine lines producing a rather intoxicating effect. That being said this is not a flamboyant car by any means and people who are not interested in cars might not really notice it. This is subtle beauty, it is refined and for those with a good pallet it is all rather delicious.
Power and Grace
One problem with the GTi badge is that over the years it has found its way onto some less than sporty cars across various brands as well as some classics. It, for a time, became a mark of sporty seats rather than sporty performance but now, it seems, it is back where it should be; on a feisty and fast car. The test vehicle I was kindly leant for a week had the 266 bhp version of the 1.6 litre turbo charged engine and it was a really nice surprise. 60 mph arrived in just 6 seconds from a standing start while the handling was focused and confidence inspiring. The engine noise in the cabin, when the car is in sports mode, is enough to fix a smile on anyone’s face but beware all is not what it seems. The engine noise is real but it is augmented using the speakers so it’s a lot louder inside than out. This means you may feel like you are driving around in a rally car but no one else will be sharing that experience; this may or may not be a bad thing. The 6 speed gearbox is a pleasure to use and it just adds to the overall driving experience which is taught, poised and thoroughly enjoyable.
Inside and Out
It is important to point out that the 308 GTi is no boy racer car. Yes it is pretty quick, yes it looks the part and yes it sounds great if you are inside. But, it is also a very practical and quite luxurious. It really carries a German interior feel in terms of quality but has flashes of French style too and this makes for a very nice cabin indeed.
Child seats fit in the back perfectly and the boot is roomy enough for a fair bit of shopping. But it is touches like the sumptuous panoramic sunroof that really make it a nice place to be. The seats are sporty but comfy and the steering wheel is a joy to hold on to. One slight issue here is that the instrument binnacle sits over the wheel so you do not look through it to see the dials. This means the wheel is very small but this simply adds to the fun sporty feel and the power steering balances it very well. The top models comes with a very efficient infotainment system and all the mod cons you would expect too.
Je ne sais quoi
The temptation to simply put down the feelings I have about this car by using that classic French phrase is perhaps not doing it justice. Rather than it being a case of “I don’t know what” but I like it, it is really the fact that “I know exactly what” and I love it!
This car is good because it looks better than the vast majority of daily cars on the road, it drives faster and better than them too and it is also very well kitted out and very comfortable. What does it cost to have a pretty, fast and generally great car? Well the well spec’d test car was just shy of £29,000 and I think it is worth every penny!