Peugeot 308 GTi THP

270

Peugeot 308 GTI, side action
Peugeot 308 GTi, front, static
Peugeot 308 GTi, front, action
Peugeot 308 GTI, front action
Peugeot 308 GTi, interior
Peugeot 308 GTi, rear, static
Peugeot 308 GTi, boot
Peugeot 308 GTi, dashboard, sport mode
Peugeot 308 GTI, front static

YOU can divide hot hatches into two classes...the in-your-face, extrovert boy-racer brigade, and the more discrete, low-key variety.

Almost inevitably, it's the brash and bold that generally gain most attention - I'm thinking here of the be-spoilered Focus RS and the Civic Type R with its massive rear wing and air scoops.

In contrast, the Golf GTI and Peugeot 308 GTi are shrinking violets that tuck away their muscles beneath less flashy clothes. Subtlety and understatement is their formula, and it's sometimes much easier to live with.

The Peugeot, only available as a five door, comes as a turbocharged 1.6-litre in two stages of tune - a 248bhp model and the full-fat 267bhp with a clever differential that boosts cornering prowess.

It was the beefy version I tried. Mind you, it still trails the Golf, Focus and Civic in terms of outright power. But on normal roads there's more than enough shove for most drivers, and at £28,445 for the GTi THP 270 it's something of a hot hatch snip.

With a long background in turning out slick, fast hatches dating back to the legendary 205 GTI of the Eighties, the 308 is out to uphold a tradition. Developed by the same team that produced the rakish RCZ R, it shares the same turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol four-pot engine driving the front wheels and is matched to a manual six-speed gearbox.

With lowered suspension and stiffer dampers plus wide 19-inch alloys the 308 GTi looks more purposeful and sticks to the road like superglue. Despite the limited slip differential, there's a degree of steering tug under full throttle, but only on greasy surfaces does this become an irritation.

It may be a bit behind in the power stakes, but its lighter body helps make up for the deficiency and allows the GTi to dispose of 62mph in just six seconds. Max is 155mph. Its pared down weight also helps make it feel agile and athletic with a steering system that feeds back road information to the helm.

Poor surfaces are coped with well despite the firm suspension and ride comfort is one of its strengths - right up there with the Golf GTi, and better than either the Type R or Focus RS.

The engine note isn't as rorty as you might expect, unless the Sport button is activated. Even then, the sound emitted is unlikely to encourage you to race up and down the gears for the sheer joy of it.

For a high performance car to regularly register 40-plus mpg is quite exceptional but that's what I got from the Peugeot which boasts CO2 emissions of just 139g/km.

The cabin is smart and modern with a tiny leather covered steering wheel set low and a minimum of switchgear. Deep wrap-around bucket seats with smart red stitching hold front seat occupants securely in place. Rear leg room is a bit restricted but the boot is massive by hatchback standards with 470 litres of luggage space.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot 308 GTi THP 270

Price: £28,445

Mechanical: 267bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 6.0 seconds

Combined MPG: 47

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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