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Craig Jamieson road tests and reviews the Peugeot 308 GTi 270 with specs and verdict.
Car heads and purists find it hard to ponder Peugeots without defaulting to wistful, weepy nostalgia about how good the good old days were.
There's the time-honoured trundle through history, usually starting off with the invincible 504 and ending with the holy grail of hot hatches, the 205 GTi.
Then, of course, begins the bemoaning of the recent dearth of anything remotely stirring. Finally, we get to the recent – and quite remarkable – resurrection of all that made people love Peugeot in the first place.
Which brings us to the 308 GTi 270, a stonking hot hatch that's good enough to bring old fans back to the fold and make brand-new fans out of even the most jaded cynics.
The term 'spiritual successor' gets bandied about in these cases, so let's be perfectly clear: the GTi 270 is not one, at least not to any Peugeot.
So just what is it, then?
There's no denying that the 308 GTi 270 is a handsome little hatch, which doesn't fall into either of the twin traps of over-conservatism or overplayed styling flourishes. One striking exception is the two-tone paintjob. It's exclusive to the GTi 270 – itself a $5000 hip pocket hit over the GTi 250 – and costs a further $4700, which is simply lunacy.
That's not to say that the 270 itself isn't worth the extra coin, with racing brakes from V8 Supercar supplier Alcon, a mechanical limited slip differential and supremely sticky, road-racing rubber.
Yes, as tested, the price is scratching awfully close to the $60,000 mark but think about things another way and it makes a lot more sense.
About 10 years ago, when money was worth more (ask a banker) and 'YOLO' wasn't a thing, Alfa Romeo was selling its 184kW, 300Nm 147 GTA hot hatch for $60,000 plus options. Adjust for inflation and that's pushing $78,000 in today's money.
By that measure, a hot hatch with 200kW and 330Nm for $50,000 (if you forgo the silly paintjob) seems like a decent improvement, if not a quantum leap.
As the boost winds up, the GTi 270 segues from peppy hatch to licence-shredding animal.
The bad news, at least for Peugeot, is that there's no shortage of contenders who have already taken that leap. We live in the golden age of hot hatches, with fantastic – and fantastically powerful – hyper hatchbacks on offer from Ford, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and Peugeot's return to form is in danger of being merely a ripple in a tidal wave.
But the 308 GTi 270 is unique in at least one regard – where its competition needs at least two-litre engines to reach the stratospheric power outputs they achieve, the Peugeot uses the same 1.6-litre turbo as the previous-generation Mini Cooper. While that might seem odd at first, it's actually a joint venture between PSA, which owns Peugeot, and BMW.
It's had more than a little work done by the boffins at Peugeot to help it make 200kW, such as forged aluminium pistons, polymer-coated bearings and strengthened connecting rods.
Within the confines of the concrete jungle, you're unlikely to notice which bits are forged or polymer-coated, but you'll be equally unlikely to miss the Peugeot's biggest drawcard: a whacking great turbo that's capable of reaming 2.5 bar (36 PSI) of pressure into the specially strengthened engine. As the boost winds up, the GTi 270 segues from peppy hatch to licence-shredding animal.
Everything that should be spot-on in a hot hatch, is – be it the brakes, ride, handling, agility or surge of power.
This doesn't mean it will turn and bite, however; it's just that when you really go after that gap in traffic you'll wonder why the scenery has gone blurry. For such a handsomely reserved hatch (two-tone colour notwithstanding), it really can pile on the speed.
The ride is definitely within the limits of acceptability in terms of in-town comfort; it's never overly harsh, but it certainly is firm. When teamed with the GTi 270's hard bucket seats, however, it can engender a somewhat square derriere (although I should admit to having quite some junk in my trunk).
The open highway is where the 308 GTi 270 reveals its best features and biggest foibles. Everything that should be spot-on in a hot hatch, is – be it the brakes, ride, handling, agility or surge of power.
You'd need a private track – and, most likely, the driving talent of Ayrton Senna – to notice any shortcomings with the GTi 270's setup.
The race-derived, floating rotors are distinct from more pedestrian fixed rotors in that they're free to move – ever so slightly – and prevent vibration through the braking system that can happen with warped brake discs. The other deviation from the norm is their massive size. At 380mm in diameter, the GTi 270's brakes are less suited to a hot hatch and more suited to a supersonic AMG sedan, or a Boeing. Their presence on the 308 is very welcome, though.
The GTi 270 doesn't follow the rules of suspension design, either, with an ostensibly inferior torsion beam rear setup. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a more complex, multi-link or double-wishbone setup would be the better option. Peugeot, however, has done an amazing job of finessing the 308's simpler, lighter and smaller torsion beam rear axle to the point where you'd be hard-pressed to feel short-changed. Put simply, you'd need a private track – and, most likely, the driving talent of Ayrton Senna – to notice any shortcomings with the GTi 270's setup.
Rather than offer adjustable suspension, Peugeot has instead delivered a one-size-fits-all solution that perfectly suits the car – it's firm, but never harsh. So, unlike more stiffly sprung competitors, it's still just as capable on iffy roads.
One complaint is the amount of noise that enters the cabin on those same iffy roads. It's a product of the wide, super-sticky tyres, of course, and any effort to damp it would impinge on the GTi's fantastically low 1205kg kerb weight, but it does make long-range touring a less-appealing prospect. When combined with the aggressive bucket seats that just don't work for the truly tall, rotund or any combination of the two, it doesn't shape up as an enticing long-distance companion.
The only other point of concern refers to the 'Sport' button. It increases the throttle response, which is great. The driver display shows off how much power, torque and boost you're getting, which is fun. And the dials turn red, which is pointless but cute.
The problem stems from the unnerving trend of modern cars to feature 'sound generators', where artificial engine notes are pumped through the stereo to augment an otherwise muted engine. Sadly, hearing engine noise that's as genuine and authentic as a $20 Rolex has the opposite effect of what the manufacturer intends. The knowledge that it isn't real sits in the back of your mind like an automotive Tell-tale Heart, souring the Sport button entirely.
The GTi 270 isn't perfect, but nor does it deserve the patronising 'it's getting there' that's so often applied to Peugeot as it finds its way back from the dark days.
It's much more than a comfortable and practical hatchback with a wicked turn of speed. It's more than a shot across the bow of Volkswagen, too. With some serious tech, like a mechanical limited-slip differential, four-pot racing brakes and massive 380mm rotors, it's the wild child spiritual successor to the original cat among the pigeons, the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA.
|CC Allure Turbo||1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$31,570 – 38,060||2016 Peugeot 308 2016 CC Allure Turbo Pricing and Specs|
|Access||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$8,900 – 13,420||2016 Peugeot 308 2016 Access Pricing and Specs|
|Active||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$11,600 – 16,940||2016 Peugeot 308 2016 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$14,400 – 20,240||2016 Peugeot 308 2016 Allure Pricing and Specs|