Peugeot will launch the 308 GTi in New Zealand early next year to challenge the Volkswagen Golf GTi and rekindle French-German hatchback rivalry that began in earnest 30-odd years ago.
It won’t be just one-on-one – the 308 GTi will join the existing 208 GTi to give Peugeot a performance twosome to match the VW Golf GTi and Polo GTi. Another duo in the mix are two Fords, the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, dynamic hatchbacks indeed but missing the competitive cross-border DNA of France and Germany.
The four-door 308 GTi is of course based on the standard Peugeot 308, the 2014 European Car of the Year. It has been developed by performance house Peugeot Sport, a division that knows a thing or two about building cars for the faster end of the hot hatch market.
It delivers – on paper at least – more power and get-up-and-go than the hot Golf and is expected to be priced below $60,000 to go head-to-head with the Golf’s $58,990, although Peugeot NZ general manager Simon Rose said the price was still to be confirmed.
Peugeot Sport is building two 308 GTi variants, both using turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines in different states of tune – 184k/330Nm and 200kW/330Nm – and mated to six-speed transmissions. The engines are the same as those developed for the RCZ-R coupe and good for a claimed town-and-around fuel economy of 6 litres/100km (47mpg).
New Zealand will get the car with the 200kW engine, which Peugeot says can sprint from 0-100km/h in a tad under six seconds and on to a governed top speed of 250km/h. Australia’s Peugeot distributor, to which the NZ office is closely aligned these days, is expected to take both cars.
The 200kW car gets gizmos the 184kW variant misses out on, including a Torsen (torque-sensing) limited-slip differential, sportier electronic stability system, bigger front discs, bigger alloys wearing Michelin Super Sport rubber.
The limited-slip diff helps the car hold a tighter line through corners. “It’s an outstanding performance vehicle worthy of the GTi badge and will halo the entire 308 range,” said Rose.
The Peugeot engine delivers more power than the Golf GTi’s boosted 162kW 2.0-litre unit, but 20Nm less than the VW’s 350Nm. The German car is slower from 0-100km/h, too, by roughly half a second.
Another theoretic advantage for the French car is the claimed weight of 1205kg, which gives it a better power-to-weight ratio over the heavier Golf GTi. Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin has said the 308 GTi was developed like a race car, using lighter components.
“As with competition models, we have targeted all aspects of the car, including weight, the efficiency of the chassis and brakes, the engine performance and the body hugging seats,” he said.
“Those who buy the car are set for an intense experience with this new version developed by the entire team. It comes with a raft of high-end performance features as standard.”
Inside, the 200kW car gets bucket seats upholstered in leather and alcantara along with a compact steering wheel, red stitching and Peugeot Sport badging. A Sport button on the centre console sharpens the throttle response and exhaust note.