The silver medalist
Spare a thought for the runner-up, that poor soul who came second. Like those athletes who return from the Olympics with a toothy smile and a silver medal dangling around their neck; or the chap who got five numbers right in the lotto. Now spare a thought for my latest test car, the Peugeot 308 GT.
Nope, that’s not a spelling mistake, there’s no “i” at the end of its name. Therein lies its second place because the 308 GTi hasn’t pitched up for work yet and this GT version already knows that it won’t hold top spot for long. It’s like the top-placed athlete at a tournament waiting for the world champion’s performance.
To briefly run you through the local Peugeot 308 line-up, this mid-size premium hatchback range starts with the 1.2L (110hp) turbo-petrol 3-cylinder Active model, followed closely by a slightly more powerful (130hp) GT Line version in manual or automatic guise. Top of the range – for now – is this 1.6L (205hp) four-pot turbo-petrol GT.
A decade or so ago, that would’ve been plenty-plenty for most buyers but the hot hatch market has gone a bit bananas since then. Nowadays you need at least 300-plus horsies to go for gold but – shh, big secret – you also need crazy styling, expensive engineering and uncompromising suspensions to tame such beastly power outputs.
Is that an indication of the upcoming 308 GTi’s potential? I suspect so (but hope not) because it’s my opinion that the world doesn’t need another crass, rock-hard, scary hatchback. What we need is modern and smooth, mildly entertaining and efficient hatchbacks which, hooray, is exactly what a Peugeot 308 GT is.
I took a good, long look at our Magnetic Blue press car and was quite happy to display it in front of my house. The design is sleek and contemporary, reasonably unique with plenty of Pug-specific details. These include a big lion on the three-bar radiator grill and cool “slashes” in the elegant rear lights.
Distinguishing features to lesser 308’s (ag, shampies) are two flat ‘n flush exhaust tips, deeper side sills and sporty 18-inch alloys with bizarre groves. The GT also has that futuristic 308 interior with odd shapes, a fake CD slot, tiny steering wheel, raised instruments with bent needles and strange markings.
At N$400,000 this current pole sitter sets itself apart with sportier seats, plenty of red stitching, keyless entry and a Sport button. Press that and those bizarre instruments go completely red, some energetic read-outs appear and the car pipes an artificial induction boom through the speakers. I thought it was quite fun but my wife hated it.
“Sies!” she said, “That sounds common!” Fair enough. Thanks to the excellent response from the engine in non-Sies mode, I only used the boomy Sport button while doing acceleration tests. And to annoy my wife. For the record, this Peugeot 308 GT clocked 0-100km/h in 7.60 seconds (Peugeot claims 7.5) and 400m in 15.2 seconds.
Another small criticism for Sport mode is that the tachometer’s red-zone disappears; being red and all that. The red marking starts around 6,000rpm (which is quoted as the peak power rpm) but, depending on which gear and drive mode was chosen, we found the rev limiter somewhere near 6,700rpm.
Most drivers agreed that the impressive torque figures of this runner-up are far more interesting than noisy rev orgies. Especially in daily traffic, the 285Nm spread over six nicely-stacked manual gears come in handy. Available at 1,750rpm, that does mean you need to keep at least 2 bars on the backwards rev counter.
As for the rest of the car, I have mostly positive things to report. Despite sporty ambitions, ride quality and comfort are pleasing. Grip and handling also got two thumbs up; as did the brakes and LED headlights. Peugeot quotes 370L of boot space which is not exactly medal contention but still acceptable.
Average fuel consumption’s supposed to be 5,6L/100km but we all know that’s an ideal-situation figure. Cruise at or just below the speed limit on a smooth, flat highway and you might achieve that. Throw in some weight, hills, stops and other such everyday nonsense and you’ll be looking at 7-8L/100km from the 53L tank. Not bad.
So why would you buy a Peugeot 308 GT? Well, glossing over that whole 2014 European Car of the Year award, I’d tell you that it’s a good-looking medium hatch with a favourable mix of power, efficiency and quirky style. It may be second to a GTi but, price and comfort considered, I’d be happy to go home with the silver.
0-10km/h: 0,39 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,98 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,55 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,10 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,66 seconds
0-60km/h: 3,67 seconds
0-70km/h: 4,38 seconds
0-80km/h: 5,23 seconds
0-90km/h: 6,16 seconds
0-100km/h: 7,60 seconds
0-110km/h: 8,60 seconds
0-120km/h: 9,72 seconds
0-130km/h: 11,02 seconds
0-140km/h: 12,56 seconds
0-150km/h: 14,69 seconds
0-160km/h: 16,63 seconds
0-100m: 6,67 seconds @ 95,10km/h
0-200m: 10,01 seconds @ 122,33km/h
0-300m: 12,73 seconds @ 141,04km/h
0-400m: 15,20 seconds @ 152,60km/h
0-10mph: 0,73 seconds
0-20mph: 1,67 seconds
0-30mph: 2,55 seconds
0-40mph: 3,95 seconds
0-50mph: 5,27 seconds
0-60mph: 6,83 seconds
0-70mph: 8,90 seconds
0-80mph: 10,83 seconds
0-90mph: 13,78 seconds
0-100mph: 16,84 seconds
1/4 mile: 15,25 seconds @ 95,15 mph
100-0km/h: 3,07 seconds @ 39,60 metres (once-off)
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0,59G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box