Marque returns to sporting roots
PEUGEOT HATCHES WORTH WAIT, WRITES JOHN MASLIN
When warm becomes hot and power-to-weight ratios lean heavily in favour of power, then you can begin to understand why Peugeot’s Kiwi connections are excited that they’ve got two new toys in the playground.
While the marque has a strong history in motorsport, it’s been a decent break between drinks for Peugeot in terms of a true hot hatch.
The carmaker sees both the diesel-engined GT and the petrol engined GTi as the little hotties to bring drivers back in touch with Peugeot’s sporting roots.
In fact, the GTi has the fingerprints of motorsport arm of Peugeot Sport all over it, especially when it comes to engine and chassis tuning.
If you lined up both models against the existing 308 Allure, you’ll find the GT ride height has been dropped by 7mm up front and 10mm at the back end, while the GTi sits 11mm closer to the ground. It’s this lower centre of gravity, coupled with some impressive engines up front, that gives the GT and GTi real pizzazz.
The GTi rides on 19-inch alloys, the GT comes with 19-inch rims.
The 2-litre four cylinder diesel develops 133kW and 400Nm of torque which peaks at 2000rpm.
Testimony to the engine’s ability was found out on the Hampton Downs motor circuit. It doesn’t give the impression that it’s delivering that power instantly but it launches itself spectacularly well.
Likewise, the GTi. Its 1.5-litre four potter provides more muscle (200kW) and less torque (330Nm at slightly less rpm) but this six-speed manual shifter is a little fire-breather. Whipping through a testing slalom course in second gear created a grin a mile wide.
Activate the Sport button and the instruments change from white to red to deliver information about power, torque, turbo pressure and G forces. Best of all, the engine noise is amplified through the cabin.
The 308 series overall has provided some big numbers for Peugeot and we knew the performance range was coming. Is it worth the wait? Certainly. You’ll need to be ready to pay because the diesel GT, with its six-step auto transmission, is priced at $49,990. That’s $5000 dearer than the Allure model but then the GT comes with significantly more spec and an engine and ride character that is worth every cent.
The GTi is priced at $58,990 but it’s a performance car fit for purpose. The goal was to achieve a driving experience and haring around Hampton Downs showed that box can be ticked.
Indeed, both cars prove to be efficient daily drivers that convert into different beasts when you hit the “go fast” button.
There are obvious differences inside and out with each and both have individual design genes. There’s a mix of soft touch, leather and stitching detail but at heart they both remain sport hatches and that’s the good thing.
Both get front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, dual zone climate air, electric handbrake, sports-styled seats (the front ones have massage functions), 9.7-inch touch colour screen, satnav, Bluetooth and the associated add-ons. Options include blind spot monitoring, a panoramic glass roof, and park assist (in the GT).
Peugeot NZ says going for the GTi with its 200kW output — which is the bigger engine on offer — was a no brainer. In their words this engine has “the balls we wanted”.
While driving on a closed circuit showed up one facet of the GT and GTi, there was very little driving done in real world conditions. But both of them displayed a delightful balance at high speed so that will surely translate into the same behaviour on the highway or urban streets.
It’s been a long time since Peugeot has been able to offer a true “hot” hatch. And if good things do take time then our wait has been worth it.