The first rule of Bang For Your Bucks is don’t talk abo… no, wait, that’s not right.
The first rule of Bang for your Bucks is don’t make your car more expensive than it needs to be. Rarely does the extra performance of any go-faster option outweigh the added cost, hence any given BFYB field tends to be made up mostly of manuals.
This year, however, Peugeot’s new 308 GTi 250 arrived fitted with the optional wheels and tyres from its GTi 270 bigger brother. This increases the wheel size from 18s to 19s and tyre width from 225mm to 235mm all ’round. Critically, those tyres also change from Michelin Pilot Sport 3s to the more focused Michelin Pilot Super Sports, the same rubber worn by the likes of BMW’s M2.
Peugeot Australia’s canny public relations bloke was rolling the dice, betting the extra grip from the stickier rubber would outweigh the extra $1600 the fancier rolling stock adds to the GTi 250’s $44,990 base price. Did it work? Did it ever!
One of the great things about BFYB every year is the surprises it throws up. We didn’t really figure the 308 GTi to be a contender during our pre-event speculation; its price sat towards the upper end of the price bracket and while it’s certainly no slouch, based on previous experience it seemed unlikely to blow us away with its pure performance.
Initially, that’s exactly what occurred. Its 6.42sec 0-100km/h and 14.41sec quarter mile efforts were about on par with its (cheaper) front-drive rivals, while in the other straight-line disciplines it was resolutely mid-field. You could argue a car with 184kW/330Nm and weighing only 1205kg (just 8kg heavier than a Fiesta ST) should be faster – we would – but that’s for another time.
Where Peugeot’s new hot hatch is plenty fast is in the corners, recording a scorching 1min40.1sec lap time to place it second in class behind Holden’s 300kW-plus SS ute. It may not be a rocket in a straight line, but it’s not difficult to discover where the Pug is making up time.
Even without the massive floating rotors of its 270 bigger brother, the 308 was the second best stopper from 100km/h at 35.34m and its corner speeds through the high-speed turn five sweeper and tight turn nine were second and third respectively. Basically, it stops really well and has heaps of grip.
One feature that was missed on track was the 270’s limited-slip differential. Short gearing makes the most of the highly boosted 1.6-litre four’s available grunt, but care is needed to stop the inside wheel spinning up, even in third gear. It’s also a testament to the engine’s flexibility; it might only pack 1598cc, but there’s power everywhere.
The chassis majors on stability rather than adjustability, but that isn’t to say it isn’t fun. The GTi 250 is one of those rare cars where driving it cleanly and accurately is just as much fun as sliding around. Unfortunately, the driver will still be doing plenty of sliding around as the front seats are woefully inadequate in terms of lateral support.
Peugeot’s odd ergonomics, requiring the steering wheel be dropped to see the gauges, again came in for criticism and a bigger steering wheel and faster steering rack wouldn’t go astray, but interior quirks aside, the 308 GTi 250 proved fast and fun.
Engine: 1598cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 184kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 330Nm @ 1900rpm
01. David Morley
“The surprise of BFYB 2016 for me. Is it really a 1.6?”
04. Dylan Campbell
“It’s like a Megane RS265 and Golf GTI Performance mixed together.”
04. Louis Cordony
“No LSD? No worries. Engine’s a gem, but better seats would help”
03. Scott Newman
“Rubbish seats, great engine and chassis. Relishes a thrash”
0-100km/h: 6.42sec (5th)
0-400m: 14.41sec @ 162.17km/h (3rd)
Lap Time: 1:40.1sec (2nd)
Bang Index: 131.5
Bucks Index: 84.2
BFYB Index: 164.1
WARREN LUFF SAYS
06. “The biggest surprise of the day, it’s a great bit of gear”
“THE engine and chassis are really good, it has heaps of power and it’s a usable chassis too. Very responsive on throttle, brakes are fantastic, but probably the biggest let down are the ergonomics.
“The seats have no lateral support, you may as well be sitting on a bench. You’re struggling to hold yourself in the car which then affects the driving, and I’m having to look around the steering wheel because the tacho goes in the opposite direction. Little things like that let it down, but it’s a great bit of gear.”
Want more? Check out the rest of 2016 Bang For Your Bucks.