By Patrick James on 2016-01-31 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Peugeot 308 GTi 1.6
ANY doubts that Peugeot has reclaimed its mojo for building sporty cars have been blown away in the last couple of years with the likes of the RCZ R and 208 GTi.
Now the new 308 is the first of that series to wear the GTi badge in many a year, thanks to the input from Peugeot Sport engineers.
And it's a real firecracker. Many hot-hatch enthusiasts like their power raw and unrelenting, but the this offers blistering pace with real refinement and day-to-day driving manners that won't leave you feeling like you have been driving around in a go-kart with no suspension.
It's not cheap at just over £28,000, but it delivers a real driving experience and will attract the attention of many company car drivers.
Despite its performance, decent fuel economy and lowish CO2 emissions mean it won't break the benefit in kind bank like some sports hatch gas guzzlers of recent times have done.
It looks the part too. Peugeot Sport, says the company, developed it on a clear brief: a compact, sporty car that's punchy and thrilling, for the ultimate in driving pleasure.
And if you want to stand out even more from the mundane then go for the so-called Coupe Franche paint job. If you want your GTi to look something like a strawberry dipped in chocolate you can pay £1,300 for this offering. Otherwise, the 308 is classy and slightly understated.
The car gets a beefed up four cylinder 1.6-litre engine with two huge power outputs of 250 and 270bhp, while the suspension has been tweaked and uprated to cope with all the power going through the large front wheels.
The car sits lower to the ground than the conventional 308, while the deep front air scoop and feline looking like clusters add to the sporty look. At the rear end, two large exhaust pipes are a not so subtle clue of the car's power.
This was the 270ps version and that power is delivered in spades. It sprints to 60mph via a slick six-speed gearbox, in a smidge under six seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph.
The rasp of the engine can be enhanced even more by pressing the Sport button, which turns the dials red and delivers a sporty roar.
The power is terrific, but the handling is virtually peerless. It clings limpet like on corners, feeling agile, athletic and composed, while the steering feedback means the car goes exactly where it is pointed.
The interior is now high end, with fit and finish more usually seen in executive class motors.
The sporty theme continues with the Alcantara bucket seats, which are red stitched detail bearing the Peugeot Sport logo. The dash is dominated by the 9.7 inch touchscreen which controls the major functions.
It's fun and funky and blisteringly quick, although claimed economy is a respectable 47.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
Being a compact hatchback, it is also practical with decent stowage space in the boot, which further opens up with the folding rear seats. A bonus rather than a prerequisite for someone buying this type of car.
Peugeot 308 GTi 1.6 270ps
Mechanical: 270bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 34
C02 emissions: 139g/km
Bik rating: 22%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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