2015 Peugeot 308 GT review
Isaac Bober’s 2015 Peugeot 308 GT review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and first-thoughts rating.
In a nutshell: The Peugeot 308 is proof Peugeot has finally worked out how to do, well, what used to be its stock in trade: Good driving, good looking and value for money hatchbacks.
2015 Peugeot 308 GT
Price From $42,990 (+ORC) Warranty 3 years, 100,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder Power/Torque 133kW/400Nm Transmission six-speed auto only Body 4253mm (L) 1804mm (W) 1447mm (H) Weight 1320kg Thirst 4.0L/100km (combined)
FOR ME, proof that Peugeot had found its mojo again was the arrival of the 508 back in 2011. And while I’ve banged on about it and the refreshed-for-2015 model, I think the new 308 is the absolute proof that what the French car maker achieved with the 508 wasn’t a fluke.
Our test car is the warmed-up turbo-diesel toting Peugeot 308 GT and while I’ve always been a fan of sporty diesel cars, the 308 GT is proof you can now get, if not a ‘hot’ hatch then at least a very lively one. And, until driving this car, my previous favourite oil burning hottie was the Audi TT TDI.
The Peugeot 308 GT arrived in Australia back in February this year and is available with two engines, one, a 1.6-litre petrol engine that makes 151kW and 285Nm of torque, or, our pick, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder which makes 133kW and 400Nm of torque, this engine also does service in the Peugeot 508 Allure, and others. Interestingly, the petrol engine is available with a manual transmission, while the diesel is automatic only which is a six-speed unit.
While the diesel-powered 308 GT is the most expensive 308 at $42,990 (+ORC) it’s just $1000 more than the petrol 308 GT which lists from $41,990 (+ORC), and the diesel gets quite a bit more gear in it. So that’s two reason to plump for it over its petrol sibling. The third is that fuel consumption is a claimed combined 4L/100km, and in our week with the car we averaged a virtually bang-on 4.5L/100km. The petrol, by comparison, drinks 5.6L/100km.
As mentioned, it’s best not to think of the 308 GT as a hot hatch and thus knock-on-the-head any comparisons with the likes of, say, Ford Focus ST. What I’m suggesting is that if you approach the 308 GT with a realistic expectation then you’ll come away impressed, but let’s not spoil the end just now.
The 308 GT gets some mild bodywork tweaks, including twin tailpipes, side skirts and bigger air intakes as well as LED headlights (the headlights are made up of a stagger 62 LED, to be specific), and 18-inch alloys. To my eyes it has all the visual sophistication of an Audi A3, but it comes across as more elegant. It truly is a good-looking machine. Do you agree?
The GT monicker is one that too many car makers bandy about these days without any real substance to back up the use of the title. That’s not the case with the 308 GT, with the suspension coming in for some tweaking to give the thing a more dynamic feel.
Compared with the standard 308, the GT line models sit 7mm at the front and 10mm lower at the rear. The suspension setup itself is pseudo-MacPherson strut (this uses a wishbone setup rather than the more traditional lower control arm) at the front paired to a deformable beam at the rear, and this has been tweaked to suit the specific engine variant. Why the pseudo-McPherson strut? It’s cheap to produce, is simple, perfectly suited to front-drive cars, allows for plenty of room in the engine bay, which means there’s plenty of room to run the drive shaft into the wheel hub.
So, the GT models sit lower than their garden variety siblings, and the suspension, front and back, is stiffer by up to 20% too. Peugeot says its boffins also worked on the dampers (a particularly important area for front drive cars) and has fitted hydraulic bump stops to minimise noise transfer into the cabin.
All of that sounds great, but how does the 308 GT feel in the real world and across a variety of surfaces? In one word: Good. The ride feels sporty without rattling your fillings loose and the work on the dampers means that even sharp bumps are managed without too much fuss; and the harder you drive the 308 GT the more it reveals in terms of agility. And there’s not even the slightest skerrick of torque steer, despite the front wheels having 400Nm twisted through them and that’s pretty darn impressive for so much grunt.
Sure, it’s default setting, like all front-drive cars, and this isn’t a hot hatch, remember, is understeer and pushed hard, and I mean very hard, and the 308 GT will run wide in corners, but lift off the throttle slightly and the nose will lock back onto the apex like a pig sniffing out truffles. Dial your drive back a bit and the 308 GT will feel totally relaxed and, to me, that shows some real depth in the vehicle’s character. Indeed, I find the fact it’s not a one-trick hot hatch very appealing as a fun, family car.
The steering is one of the car’s standout features. There’s a good line of communication from the wheels, through to the steering wheel and your fingers. And then theres’ the ‘sport’ button which ‘artificially’ boosts the engine note giving it a roarty edge, although this can only be heard inside as it’s piped through the speakers into the cabin. It also weights up the steering nicely and sharpens the throttle response… The sensation when pressing the button is very nearly a Jekyll and Hyde sensation.
The brakes are strong and the pedal feel is progressive which makes for a very smooth drive. The transmission is six-speed automatic only and while I initially thought the diesel-powered 308 GT should have a manual option, I’m not so sure, after a week in the thing that it does. But what it certainly doesn’t need is shift paddles on the steering wheel. They’re fixed and when the wheel is turned they can be hard to reach; and when you do use them the transmission will still shift on its own if it thinks you’re holding the gear for too long, so, stick with D and just concentrate on the drive.
Sit behind the wheel and it takes a little while to feel totally at ease with the low mounted, and seemingly very small steering wheel. Even with the seat adjusted in its lowest position, and the steering wheel raised as high as it would go it still felt a little too low. Initially, anyway. After about 20 minutes I settled in and it felt okay. The seats are good but not great. While they’re comfortable, I did find the seat base a little too short for my long legs and the side bolstering could have done with some extra bolstering, but with plenty of available adjustment most drivers will be able to get themselves comfortable.
The dashboard is neatly laid out and the material choice and quality of the fit and finish really is up there with the likes of the Volkswagen Group, which are considered the gold standard in interior fit and finish. The infotainment unit is easy to use and quick to respond and has a whole heap of in-built functionality that’s allowed the dashboard to be very clean.
Climb into the back and there’s plenty of room for two adults, although legroom is a little snug. We fitted two child seats into the back and besides having to remove the headrests to get the seat to sit flat against the backrest there were no dramas. The boot itself is cavernous and, indeed, Peugeot probably could have swiped a bit of room from the boot to add to back seat legroom. With the rear seats in place there’s 435 litres of space (the Hyundai i30, by comparison, offers 380 litres). This grows to 820 litres with the rear seats folded.
The 308 GT (diesel) sits at the top of the tree and is priced from $42,990 (+ORC) and that gets you a fair amount of kit as standard. This includes things like, head-up display, 9.7-inch touchscreen, electric folding mirrors and puddle lights, ‘performance’ suspension, push-button start/stop, 18-inch alloys, steering mounted paddle shifters, reversing camera and front parking sensors, keyless entry, sat-nav and rear privacy glass.
The 308 GT also gets capped price servicing for 60 months or 75,000km with 15,000km service intervals. Pricing is (approximate only) $455 (12 months/15,000km); $745 (24 months/30,000km); $520 (36 months/45,000km); $760 (48 months/60,000km); $485 (60 months/75,000km).
In terms of safety, the 308 GT, like the rest of the 308 range, gets a five-star ANCAP rating with active cruise control, emergency collision brake, blind spot monitoring, park assist, six airbags, stability and traction controls, tyre pressure warning sensors, and three ISOFIX mounting points in the back, although you’d only fit two seats across the back at one time.