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2019 Peugeot 308 GTi long-term review: Part 1 - Introduction

By Chris Thompson, 05 Oct 2019 Reviews

2019 Peugeot 308 GTi long-term review Part 1 Introduction feature

We welcome a current-gen hot-hatch veteran

Do I have commitment issues? Am I too prone to fall into a state of infatuation? Is the Peugeot 308 GTi a good all-rounder hot hatch to live with? These are three questions which will hopefully be answered over the coming months as we welcome this little turbocharged French rocket into the MOTOR fold.

It’s not only my first long-termer, but it’s also the first time I’ve properly sat myself in a Pug 308 for a steer since I very briefly drove one to Sydney Dragway for the 2019 MOTOR Tyre Test. And I’m already enjoying it quite a lot. Maybe we’ll answer the infatuation question sooner rather than later.

But in my quest to remain impartial, I’ve scrutinised the work of Peugeot Sport to work out what I think I’m going to love and loathe by the end of the GTi’s stay. For a start, the fact that it’s a hot hatch with a relatively low kerb weight of 1205kg is a big tick in the ‘yes’ column, and its 200kW 1.6-litre four-pot is a nice pairing with the eager chassis, and it’s helped along by a fairly healthy 330Nm.

Speaking of punching above its weight, it has 166kW-per-tonne, which puts it ahead of pretty much everything else in its class, including the brawny 164kW-per-tonne Civic Type R. Even with that massive chunk of power from such a little engine, there’s not a massive amount of lag from the turbo, which means no mid-corner surprises. I hope.

Interestingly, after a few commutes and a photography session, the fuel tank still hasn’t required a refill. Maybe the 6.0L/100km claim isn’t far off? We’ll be keeping track of that.

Its price is also a little ahead of where it once was, though the Peugeot is ageing now. Introduced in early 2016, the 308 GTi has been updated once since, and with it there was a financial gain for buyers.

MOTOR feature: Biggest surprise of 2016 - 308 GTi

What was once a $50K offering was given a $4000 price cut early last year, and cheaper has to be better. You also won’t make it more expensive by adding an auto transmission, because you can’t get one. Another tick from me.

What I might find myself frustrated with is the fact that the tacho is around the wrong way, sweeping from right to left. And that the whole thing turns red in Sport mode. I like the aggro vibe, but where did the redline go?

There’s also a ‘massage’ function for the front seats… though all it does is move the lumbar support in and out, as if a rear passenger were gently kneeing you in the back.

Those quirks aside, I think I’ll come to enjoy spending time in the elegant-yet-simple cabin, which feels to rival the likes of VW. But it’s also the scene of a divisive aspect of the car – the instrument cluster.

Aside from the backwards tacho, the most noticeable thing about the cluster and the wheel is that it’s designed so you look over the wheel rather than through it to see the dials. I might be the only one in the MOTOR crew who actually doesn’t mind it (Newman outright refuses to accept it), but we’ll see if that changes.

One thing I’m still coming to a decision on is the styling, in particular the paint. While it’s been executed immaculately, it seemed an odd way to achieve a two-tone body colour. Admittedly, it looks better than it does in red and black, but I think I’d rather the whole thing blue.

We’ll also see what can be made of the GTi’s dynamic ability, both on the road and on track, given the reputation it has garnered through heritage and its own praise over the years. We might also find a way to explore that heritage a little more closely.

BFYB 2018: 308 GTi 270 track drive

During its stay in the MOTOR garage, we also want to find out if all the numbers Peugeot has littered its specs sheet with stack up. A bit of performance testing and lab analysis might be in order.

I’m hearing good things from everyone who’s driven a 308 GTi in anger, though it’s not clear whether that’s excitement, or an attempt to snag a drive later on.

As a fan of hot hatches in general, and of cars that keep kerb weight reasonably low, I’m looking forward to my time with the 308 GTi. Hopefully I still look forward to driving it in a couple of months’ time, lest those apparent commitment issues have me asking for other key fobs within the MOTOR garage.

A statement of a commitment with MOTOR long-term car reviews

2019 Peugeot 308 GTi Pros & Cons

Things we're falling for
1 - Power/weight!
2 - Thrifty drinking
3 - Tres chic interior

Things we're not fond of
1 - Backwards tacho
2 - Fake engine note
3 - Weird massages

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