On the face of it, the Peugeot 308 GTI provides a worthy alternative to so many more celebrated hot hatches. The EMP2 platform means it's genuinely light - 1,280kg at the kerb, against 1,500 for a Focus ST - so there's no need for something like four-wheel steer to contrive a sense of agility. Driving modes extend no further than a sport mode to sharpen the throttle (traction is either on or off), making it an approachable and easy car to understand. It'll blend in way better than a Civic Type R, yet is more stylish (and just as good to drive) as a Golf GTI. The 308 is manual only, comes as standard with Alcon brakes and a limited-slip diff, and it's cheaper than all of the cars listed above.
So why does nobody care? Well, though it was a welcome return to hot hatch form from Peugeot, this is no reincarnation of the 306 GTI - the class leaders weren't exactly troubled by the 308. A slightly baggy gearshift, the odd steering and the last yard of missing chassis finesse see to that. But the 308 deserves way more recognition than it receives. (As does the 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport, but maybe that's a Spotted for another day.)
Today, there's just a solitary '260' GTI on sale; at launch the range was split into a '250' and '270', the latter proving most popular thanks to the extra power and equipment for not much more money. This car from the classifieds is one those 270s, and is the cheapest we've yet seen at just £13k.
Diablo Red is a colour made famous by that old 306, and suits the 308 nicely. Frankly, after the two-tone cars, any one colour seems to work well. This 270 has covered 34,000 miles, with three services to back that up, and will be sold a warranty as well. For point of reference you'll pay £15k for a diesel Focus ST on the same mileage, a comparable Golf GTI is more expensive (with 50 less horsepower) and a Civic Type R of similar vintage - while a more powerful, more exciting hot hatch - is £17k. With twice the mileage.
Still not sold? Thought not, and perhaps the general apathy towards the 308 GTI might be its greatest drawback. That said, it should be considered that its small engine and light weight make it efficient - 39mpg and 139g/km - while nothing beyond some electrical issues have been reported as reliability woes. There really is plenty to recommend the 308 - even his mightiness Jeremy Clarkson said it was a car "you will find an excuse to drive." So there.
It's hard to imagine any more following, either, what with a glut of new hot hatches around and Peugeot's apparent unwillingness to produce anything fun any more. Maybe that's it; when Peugeot finally stops making hot hatches for a full range of hybrid SUVs, everyone will realise that really decent hot hatches were in their midst for a good few years. Hopefully some will realise right now, and snap up what looks like something of a bargain - and the rest will be none the wiser still.
SPECIFICATION - PEUGEOT SPORT 308 GTI 270
Engine: 1,598cc four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive, LSD
Power (hp): 270@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 243@1,900-5,500rpm
First registered: 2015
Recorded mileage: 34,000
Price new: £28,155
Yours for: £13,750