Peugeot 308 GTi

Peugeot 308 GTi, front, action
Peugeot 308 GTi, handling
Peugeot 308 GTI, front action
Peugeot 308 GTI, front static
Peugeot 308 GTi, front, static
Peugeot 308 GTi, rear, static
Peugeot 308 GTI, side action
Peugeot 308 GTi, interior
Peugeot 308 GTi, boot
Peugeot 308 GTI, rear static
Peugeot 308 GTI, rear action

THE Peugeot 308 might originally have been designed as a sensible family hatchback - but now the French car maker has had other ideas.

The range has been expanded to include two very hot hatches which take the 308's performance to a dynamic new level, not to mention its styling.

Both are powered by 1.6-litre engines - not too dramatic you would think - but the turbocharged terrific twosome are offered with a choice of an awesome 250bhp and 270bhp.

Both models wear the coveted GTi badge and have the performance to back it up, which must be a worry for the original hot hatch the Golf GTI.

To make sure they live up to the hype the car maker went to performance experts Peugeot Sport to develop the new models, both of which have a top sped of 155 miles per hour.

The 308 GTi 250 also looks every inch the performance car it is.

Sitting 11mm lower than the standard model and equipped with stylish 19-inch black and silver alloy wheels, a deep air intake, two under-bumper spoilers, full LED headlamps and an exclusive radiator grille with glass-black finish it's easy to see this car is built for action.

At the rear two generous exhaust pipes protrude like cannons and the rear side windows are almost totally blacked out.

Step inside and while the theme is overtly sporting with its generous high backed, body hugging sports seats the dashboard is definitely minimalistic, most of the operations for the car having been transferred to the central touch screen.

Peugeot's now ubiquitous small leather sports steering wheel allows you to have a good grip on the action and sits well below the neat speedometer and rev counter dials with their designer pointers.

Oddly the tachometer works in the opposite direction to the speedo, with the revs unconventionally building from right to left on the dial rather than left to right. I'm sure someone somewhere thought it an interesting design feature but it's not so easy on the eye when it comes to a quick readout.

The car has an electronic handbrake - and as a result comes with a sensible hill holder clutch so you don't struggle on inclines - next to which is the Sport button for when you are feeling brave.

Build quality on this car is excellent. You can close the doors with the lightest of touches yet they have such a solid feel to them as they shut they put even premier German car brands - often seen as the benchmark- to shame.

On the road the 308 GTi 250 is a very civilised car and can be driven sedately with ease.

But use it as it was intended and it's one of those cars which makes you come alive in the mornings. The power delivery is crisp, instant and just keeps on coming.

And when you have an open road and are feeling bold you can push the Sport button, which turns the illumination on all the dials from white to red - as a warning.

It also changes the accelerator pedal mapping as well as boosting the engine growl so you not only feel the extra thrust you hear it. The car hits the red line in each gear in the blink of an eye so it's not a car for the faint hearted. For a 1.6-litre this car is impressive with a capital I.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot 308 GTi

Price: £26,555

Mechanical: 250bhp. 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 6.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.1

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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