The PEUGEOT 308 GTi has been nearly 40 years in the making. Ever since PEUGEOT Sport made its debut in the 1981 World Rally Championship, the French firm's tuning arm has been making performance-tuned road variants of its race and rally cars - starting with the iconic 205 GTi.
Well, here's PEUGEOT Sport's latest progeny, and it's clear that the last 40 years have been time well spent. While testing it at the Ascari race track, we declared: "The 308 GTi is a far more capable and interesting track car than you might have expected. It's more fun than a Volkswagen Golf, and more subtle than a Honda Civic Type R."
More recently, the Fifth Gear team got their hands on the PEUGEOT 308 GTi, with presenter Jason Plato giving it a run round their own test track.
To find out more about the PEUGEOT 308 GTi, head to PEUGEOT's showroom page.
Engineered to perform
First - the stats that matter. Under the PEUGEOT 308 GTi's sculpted bonnet is a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine with 260hp and 340Nm of torque. Components in the six-speed gearbox have been shot-blasted and surface-hardened for strength, while the output shaft has been shortened for improved acceleration.
A wider track - 1,570mm at the front, and 1,554mm at the rear - works with a ride height that has been lowered by 11mm, lightweight pseudo-McPherson front suspension with a deformable rear torsion-beam, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport 235/35 R19 tyres, to deliver impressive handling performance.
A Torsen limited-slip differential provides even more dynamic cornering by channelling torque to the wheel with the most grip, letting the driver accelerate earlier and more confidently out of bends.
And, when it comes to bringing all that to a halt, PEUGEOT has opted for Alcon disc brakes - 380mm front, 268mm rear -with four-piston calipers.
Add the Driver Sport Pack, and you get a 'Sport' button on the centre console that amplifies the engine sound and increases throttle response, while also changing the interior displays from white to red with more information about power, torque, turbo pressure and acceleration and cornering g-forces.
Designed to stand out
It's not only under the skin where PEUGEOT Sport delivers its performance creds. The PEUGEOT 308 GTi's large front bumper frames a large air intake for the intercooler and the stylish gloss black chequered radiator grille, with sequential LED indicators adding a high-tech touch of style.
From the side, the 11mm-lowered ride height is amplified by the large but lightweight 19-inch 'Carbone' two-tone diamond-cut wheels, which house the large 380mm front brake discs with their red four-piston calipers. At the back, twin exhausts with a chrome finish work with a gloss black diffuser to complete the sporty look.
For the perfect finishing touch, the PEUGEOT 308 GTi is also available with a special 'Coupe Franche' (or 'clean cut') hand-finished paint, blending Ultimate Red or Magnetic Blue with a Nera Black metallic paint for the ultimate look.
Inside, there's a full-grain leather steering wheel with signature GTi red stitching, aluminium pedals and GTi-branded doorsill finishers, while the figure-hugging bucket seats are upholstered in Alcantara and leather-effect trim. For longer journeys, they also have a massage function with two intensity settings.
Perfect on-track and off
PEUGEOT hasn't forgotten about the 'hatch' part of hot hatch, and the 308 GTi is as useful as a daily driver as it is tearing up the asphalt on track days.
The PEUGEOT i-Cockpit® blends a large touchscreen, with a head-up instrument panel and a compact steering wheel that delivers a more engaging driving experience. Connected 3D Navigation helps you get where you're going, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Mirror Link let you connect compatible smartphones and selected apps. The optional Denon Hi-Fi Pack adds an extra sense of audio engagement.
You can also choose to add extra advanced driver assist features that make driving easier and safer. The Drive Assist Pack comes with active lane-keeping assistance, driver attention alert, PEUGEOT Smartbeam Assistance and speed limit recognition. The City Park Pack provides automatic steering control for parallel and bay parking, as well as blind spot monitoring.
Yes, the PEUGEOT 308 GTi really is a great all-round hot hatch.