I had the fortunate opportunity to test drive the fantastic new Peugeot 308 GTI this weekend just gone. Peugeot are kindly offering a free 48 hour test drive on selected models, so I took the chance to drive the GTI, a car Iíve been curious about since I saw one at a car show last June.
I had preconceived ideas about the GTI, I had assumed it would either be a bit disappointing, or it would blow me away. Iím pleased to say it was the latter! Similar in size, and at some angles, shape to the VW Golf, how will this mid sized family car come hot hatch perform? Under the bonnet is Peugeotís 1.6 litre Turbo petrol engine, finely tuned by Peugeot sport to develop 270 BHP. It looks the part, no over the top styling, just sleek and fairly understated with huge 19Ē rims, massive floating discs at the front, and twin exhausts at the back.
The interior is well finished with high quality soft touch plastics, it has an upmarket contemporary feel with some nice sleek touches. Everything has been simplified, so the majority of the controls are now integrated with the touchscreen. Pressing Sport mode turns the dials red and brings up a gauge displaying power, boost and torque as you accelerate. Going through the menu, you can choose to display a G meter to see how many Gís you can pull in the bends, a digital compass which also displays the nearest town and road name, and various other things such as you MPGís stats etc. Thereís a reversing camera that pops up too, handy for parking manoeuvres. Overall the cabin quality is up there with the best, the whole car in fact feels so solid and well built, feels German in this respect. The front bucket seats were extremely comfy and supportive, they even had a welcome massage setting.
How does it drive? Well as I pulled off the forecourt, there was a whoosh, a hiss then a bang, I knew this car was going to be a lot of fun, me and my brother were grinning from ear to ear from that moment on. The sheer instant power and torque from this thing is simply shocking, thereís a faint hint of turbo lag for just a fraction of a second, and then whoosh, youíre off. The official 0-60 time is 6 seconds, but in reality its much quicker, we timed a run of 5.5, but all that is meaningless, you have to experience the raw power this highly tuned car has on offer to believe it. It pulls like a freight train in every gear and just keeps going and going, I didnít see how far because its not my car, and I value my license, but you can be in any gear at any speed, you floor the throttle and before you can say ďitís just a 1.6Ē youíre well into triple figures. Thereís a whiff of torque steer if you accelerate hard, and you can understand why trying to tame 270 BHP through 2 wheels, but not to worry, thereís also a limited slip differential, which seems to offer unlimited amounts of grip in the bends. And if thatís not enough, then the traction control can keep things straight too, something I found out after a damp Sunday drive. Itís a very rewarding car and drives a lot Sportier than itís relatively normal exterior would suggest. But donít go thinking itís a raw, unrefined bouncy race car, this car actually drives just like your normal family hatchback if you want it to, itís quiet, refined, comfy and yes the suspension is quite stiff, but itís by no means uncomfortable or crashy. But when you want to turn it into a fire breathing beast, itís just a Sport button away.
The GTI has a super tiny steering wheel which is sensitive and light. Press the Sport button and it becomes heavier and even more sensitive, you only have to twitch it a MM left or right and the car will dart off, on twisty roads its a real joy. It turns in so sharply with zero body roll and immense control, it inspire confidence and encourages you to drive faster, the handling is so good, for the duration of the test drive, I felt like I could have taken each and every bend 50% faster than I just did. One thing the purists might not like is the ďfauxĒ engine sound. As modern engines and clever sound proofing peak, engine sound is often dampened which can ruin a fast car experience. Like a lot of cars now, pressing Sport mode plays the sound of the engine through the speakers louder, sounds tacky in theory, but in the moment, its so realistic nobody would guess its fake unless you told them. It enhances the thrill, gives the car a mean growl. The gearbox is a delightful manual only 6 speed, itís light, precise and seems to enjoy being thrashed around. Change gear correctly and youíre rewarded with a nice backfire from the exhausts, a real acoustic treat! At lower speeds, it feels a little clunky at times, you can hear a faint whine as you accelerate slowly, reminds me of driving a rally car the characteristics and sounds it makes in general. Iím pleased they donít offer a duel clutch flappy paddle nonsense box, they seem to dull down driving and always add a clinical element to the driving experience. Everyone I had in the car just could not get over the fact that it had a 1.6 litre engine. Of course thatís good news for fuel savers, with potential to be quite fuel efficient? Keep reading...
What about fuel stats then? I couldnít have a car like this without satisfying the eco warrior inside me. So Sunday evening, I left Sport mode off, and had a more relaxed drive. Even driving slowly, progress is good, speed picks up very quickly with little effort. I limited myself to 60 MPH and drove gently but not slowly. I averaged 47.8 MPG, which is quite remarkable for a car thatís so quick. Potentially it has a range of over 500 miles per tank if driven gently, who knows, with a bit of hypermiling, you might see over 50 MPG? Over the 367 miles I had the car (apparently I was limited to 150 miles, oops!) I averaged 31.7 MPG, for someone whoís used to getting double that, I was initially shocked, but itís actually a respectable figure considering the type of driving I was doing and the immense speeds this thing can do, I was almost expecting low to mid 20ís. From everyday use, I can see 35-45 MPG being achievable, which probably makes this car one of the fastest cheapest to run hot hatches on the market. Road tax is fairly cheap too at £140 a year, undercutting itís rivals somewhat.
Overall I was blown away by the GTI, as was my brother. It surprised me, my friends and my family in almost every aspect. Every time I put my foot down, people couldnít help but swear. There are a few flaws, as with any car, but there are also very few compromises. Itís quick, fun, comfy, refined, well built and is not only cheaper to buy, but more economical and cheaper to run than itís closest rivals too. Ok so the 48 hour test drive worked its magic, good job Peugeot, now the hard part is trying to find out how I can afford one...
So you liked it then...?! For some reason i thought it was gong to be some classic '80s car you were buying. How much is it then? Can you give them the Insight then finance the rest....?!
I tried "Power" mode out the other day. Turns the throttle into instant lurch of acceleration - but as the 0-60 is around 10 seconds and it has a vague 120ish bhp, dont think i'm anywhere close to you, performance wise.
I prefer the "Eco" mode, deadens the pedal for much better throttle control.
Ben it was stunning, I've not driven a car this quick for a while, I'd forgotten how fun it was, it's a credit to Peugeot Sport, they certainly know how to set a car up properly. I'd be seriously tempted, but this model is £28,000 so it's far from cheap, although I've seen pre-reg advertised at £20,000 which makes it pretty good value for the performance. I'd have to trade both cars in and finance the rest.
If you are seriously thinking about it, you should also consider some of the competition, latest Top Gear mag tested 30 cars for their "fun" factor and two of the top 4 were the Ford Fiesta ST (around 18k) and the Ford Focus ST (around 22K).
For me, if I had 20k it would have to be something a bit older, maybe one of these:
Would still have change to keep it nice, obviously not as quick, but those earyl BMW straight sixes have to be one of the best engines ever... (I've had 3 BMWs with the straight 6 and even 12 years after my last one, I still get goose bumps remembering how sweet they are all the way to the red line).
But then again, I don't think I could say no to a new Hot Hatch either
£8,000 off is pretty good discount...! I was interested to check the 0-60s of old cars i remembered as "fast" (you guys won't be impressed!), Xantia 2.0 hdi, Astra 1.7 with the Isuzu engine, 1.6 petrol Bluebird - the Prius beats them all, seems its the sportiest car i've had!
I dont really need any more power, though i have sat in a Mazda rx7 as the wankel engine propelled it to 60 in under 4 seconds so i can understand the appeal...!
Yea those old wankel engines, they'd burn almost as much oil as fuel. The thing that appeals to me with these modern cars is that they are super quick, but still have plenty of potential to be cheap to run and environmentally friendly. After all, and I still cant get over the fact, it's only a 1.6 litre. The instant power and pick up was most welcome when overtaking slow drivers, in gaps I would probably hesitate in the Clio, the Peugeot would be out and in again in a few seconds.
I should mention, I also had the privilege of driving the all new Megane last week too, and boy what a car that is too. It had the same engine as mine, so performance wise was on a different page to the Peugeot, but it felt leagues ahead of anything in terms of comfort and refinement, could barely hear the engine whispering along and there was zero road/wind noise. It rode beautifully, the interior was stunning with an 8 inch vertical touchscreen much like the Tesla, everything was customizable, you can change the layout and colour scheme of the dashboard etc, if you look closely at the interior pic, you can see the subtle mood lighting too, again, all customizable. Has every toy imaginable. If I don't end up with the Peugeot, I'll definitely be getting one of these, and it should do upwards of 60 MPG too.
Interesting - 2 very different rides then. The megane and your clio, similar acceleration and power? I was recently suprised to find the Prius is the fastest and most powerful car i've owned! I had always assumed your sporty looking clio to out perform it, but while comparing all my supposed "fast" old turbo diesels i checked you out and i seem (on paper anyway!) to have the 0-60 and bhp edge.
This came up at work with a lad and his new sporty Astra van, confident he could beat me - but not according to the figures. I'm not racing him down the dual carriageway...
Its nice treat to find a car i bought for economy and comfort to also be unexpectedly fast (by comparison). It overtakes well, and pulls away fast to ensure i'm never a hazard to a fast approaching car.
Yes the Megane and Clio are similar performance wise, 20 hp more in the Megane, but a bigger car. Your car and my car probably have a similar power to weight ratio so in theory should have a close 0-60 sprint time, although you may have the edge due to lack of gear changes!
I want to see what the Megane hybrid diesel is like next year, it can only be better than what I just drove and that was pretty awesome.