BOLDER than ever. That’s Peugeot’s marketing slogan for the 2020 308 GT, their latest offering to the hatch market Gods. But is it bolder than ever? Is it bold at all? Well, yes it is and no it isn’t.
It lives up to the slogan but at the same time falls short, and after some rigorous testing for a couple of weeks, we’ll tell you exactly why.
For those of you reading, you’re here because you have specifically searched for this car and haven’t decided whether it has everything you’re looking for, or you’re after a Euro-hatch that is zippy and nimble around town.
Or finally, you’re here because, like yours truly, you’re an enthusiast, and knowing that the GT is a limited edition run (140 units in Australia) of the 308 is enough reason to make your way to your nearest dealership and put your order in.
For the sake of this review though, we’ll call the 308 GT a ‘cool hatch’, and you’ll see why. For starters, there’s a hint of stigma with the Peugeot brand in some circles. It’s price point may not do it justice either, but more on that later.
But the exterior is a thing of beauty. Reminiscent of similar hatches such as the i30 N and Renault Megane R.S. – the sharp lines and angles of the Peugeot design will whisper quietly to you that you’re in over your head, that this isn’t your ordinary hatch.
Peugeot’s signature lion bares its sharp teeth clearly in the engineering behind the styling of the car’s panels and lights, with individual daytime running lights integrated into the headlight housing to create a sinister frown on the 308’s front end.
At the rear, you’ve got 3-claw LED tail lights, paired with the blacked out rear lip and trapezoid exhaust tips, to give the back end that marque Peugeot look. It’s a great combination, especially on the optional Pearl White of our test vehicle.
Unfortunately as is the case with many modern cars with reinforced plastic front and rear bumpers, the colour doesn’t sit as clear and brilliant on these panels as it does the rest of the car, although Peugeot’s factory paint is actually of decent quality.
Inside, it’s clear to see there is now a scarcity of Peugeot’s old ways and designs, and this is a good thing. The French car maker’s trademark i-Cockpit entices you to plant your butt in the semi-bucket-type structured leather and alcantara seats.
The minimalist flat-bottomed perforated leather steering wheel, with red stitching, sits below the elevated instrument cluster, a design rarely seen in this day and age.
In the middle of the dash is a 9.7-inch high definition touch screen, where you’ll find most of the vehicle’s settings. Regrettably, it can be a little laggy and slow sometimes, and takes a few moments to load and catch up to your touch.
The Bluetooth connection can sometimes be slow to configure and automatically connect to your device too, but fortunately Peugeot redeems themselves by having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
While you’re inside, you’ll notice the lack of in-cabin storage, and while each door is equipped with a fairly sizable tray, the centre console has barely enough room to fit a late model smart phone in it without a charging cord.
There’s just one cup holder up front (with a small hidden compartment beneath) and two in the fold down rest in the rear seats. The boot provides 435-litres of space, which is significantly more than some of its competitors.
Leg room is questionable, considering Peugeot is marketing the 308 as a small family car, and for a person over 170cm to sit comfortably in the front seat, the three rear seats sacrifice their leg room, which is minimal at best.
The front seats can be manually lowered to the point where you can sit fairly deep in the seats while driving though, giving you plenty of head room.
On the road, the 2020 Peugeot 308 GT is just as sporty as it looks, although it does make some sacrifices. The 18-inch alloy wheels are shot with Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, which provides exceptional handling at the cost of comfort.
The ride, particularly in sport mode, can sometimes be quite harsh depending on road quality. It’s good in standard and eco mode though, and the only other downside is a little bit of turbo lag from the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol power plant.
Sport mode is the most fun though, and it’s here that the once quiet Peugeot lion once again rears its head to let out a roar, as the car’s ECU is remapped for performance. The cluster turns red, another sinister precursor of what is to come.
The sound of the engine is intensified and becomes clearer, the steering wheel becomes more rigid and is more responsive to your input. The gear changes feel less clunky as the new 8-speed automatic transmission holds the higher revs longer.
With 165kW of power and a low weight of 1204kg, the 308 GT propels you forward without hesitation. Combined fuel economy of 6.0-litres/100km is also impressive. We had a best of 7.2, a good effort given how much time we spent enjoying sport mode.
The 308 GT is outfitted with the highest quality safety equipment, including multiple clearly marked ISOFIX anchor points, six airbags, advanced autonomous emergency braking, active lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
There’s also a pre-collision warning and an advanced driver attention alert.
If anything else hurts the 2020 Peugeot 308 GT though, it’s the price point, at just over $43,000 drive away. That pushes the warmed up small car into hot hatch territory on price alone.
But it’s not quite in the same league as say the Hyundai i30 N ($40,490 plus on-roads), or Peugeot’s own GTi variant of the 308 (at $50,235 drive away), while it’s also on a different playing field to the Volkswagen Golf 110 TSI Highline ($33,990 plus on-roads).
It’s a conundrum, there’s no doubt, for the brilliant little machine that we nicknamed ‘the Peugeot that could’. It’s a definite contender for enthusiasts, and comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, capped price servicing and roadside assist.
If you can look past some of its flaws, then it will make an excellent car for zipping around town in, and it’s good on the open road too. It’s got everything you want in a hatch, which means the 308 is good on its statement; bolder than ever.
Our 2020 Peugeot 308 GT was supplied by Peugeot Australia. To find out more, contact your local Peugeot dealer. Images courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography.