Ford Focus ST-Line hatch 2019 review
Wait, what? Small cars for families? Well, they can be, if you choose the right one. Ford’s Focus...
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
It was almost this time last year when I had the chance to test the Peugeot 308 GT. It was a great little warm hatch, which subjectively, I loved.
The GT-Line looks pretty much identical from the outside but instead of the GT’s punchy four-cylinder engine, it gets the regular three-cylinder turbo unit also seen on the lesser Allure grade.
So, with angry looks but less power than a base-model Golf – can this new GT-Line version win me over in quite the same way as its warm hatch predecessor? Read on to find out.
|Peugeot 308 2020: GT Line Limited Edition|
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
With the GT gone, the GT-Line is now top of the 308 range in Australia. About the same size as a Golf or a Ford Focus, the current generation 308 has danced with different price points throughout its somewhat tumultuous six-year history in Australia.
Priced at $36,490 (drive-away, with a MSRP of $34,990) its certainly far from the budget, circa $20k end of the hatch market, competing with the likes of the VW Golf 110TSI Highline ($34,990), Ford Focus Titanium ($34,490), or Hyundai i30 N-Line Premium ($35,590).
Peugeot tried the budget thing once with entry-level variants like the Access and the current Allure, a strategy which clearly didn’t buy the French brand much more than a niche in the Australian market.
Equipment level in the Peugeot is good, regardless. Included are those impressive 18-inch alloys which I loved on the GT, a 9.7-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as built-in navigation and DAB digital radio, full LED front lighting, a sporty body kit (again visually almost identical to the GT), leather trimmed wheel, cloth seats with a unique GT-Line pattern, a colour display in the driver’s instrument cluster, push-start ignition with keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof which almost reaches the length of the car.
There is also a decent safety suite explored later in this review.
The kit isn’t bad but is missing some of the more cutting edge features we see in rivals at this price, like wireless phone charging, holographic head-up displays, digital dash clusters, and even basic things like full leather interior trim and electrically adjustable seats.
Oh, and the great ‘Ultimate Red’ colour worn by our test car is a $1050 option. 'Magnetic Blue' (the only other colour I’d consider on this car) is a bit cheaper at $690.
It speaks to the excellent design of this car that you can’t tell this generation is over five years old. Still looking as contemporary as ever, the 308 has simple, classic hatchback lines accented by its pugnacious chrome-accented grille (see what I did there?) and big two-tone alloys which really fill those wheel arches.
The LED lights, which now feature progressive indicators and silver strip which frames the entire side window profile, complete the look
Again, it’s simple but distinctly European in its appeal.
Inside takes the design to unique but controversial places. I like the driver-centric molding to the pared-back dash design, which features a smattering of very tastefully applied chrome highlights and soft-touch surfaces, but it’s the wheel position and driver’s binnacle which divides people.
Personally, I love it. I love the tiny but strongly contoured steering wheel, love the way the elements are perched deep but high atop the dash, and the sporty seating position it creates.
Talk to my colleague Richard Berry though (who is 191cm/6'3" tall) and you’ll see some flaws with it. Like, he has to choose between being comfortable and having the top of the wheel block the instrument cluster. That has to be annoying.
If you’re my height though (182cm/6'0"), you’ll have no problems. I just wish, especially at this price, it had the cool new digital dash design featured in the larger 508.
The 308’s cabin is a comfortable place to be, too,with the soft touch plastics and leather trims extending from the dash to the door cards and centre console.
The screen is large and impressive at the dash centre, and I did appreciate how Peugeot wove its white/blue/red pattern on the centre of the seat design.
Annoyingly, one drawback of this simplistic but futuristic cabin design is a distinct lack of storage.
Front passengers get shallow door binnacles with a small bottle holder, a tiny glove box and centre console box, and a weird lone cupholder embedded in the centre console, which is small (barely fits a large coffee) and awkward to access.
Need a spot for a laptop or tablet, or any objects larger than a phone? There’s always the back seat, I suppose.
On the topic of the back seat, the nice seat trim and door cards extend to the rear which is a welcome aspect of the 308’s design, but again, the lack of storage is notable.
There are pockets on the back of each seat, and a small bottle holder in each door, as well as a drop-down armrest with two small cupholders again. There are no adjustable vents, but there is a single USB port on the back of the centre console.
Size-wise the back seat is okay. It doesn’t quite have the design magic of the Golf. Behind my own seating position, my knees are hard up against the front seat, although I do have plenty of arm room and headroom.
Thankfully, the 308 has an excellent boot area, with 435-litres on offer. It’s bigger than a Golf’s 380L and the 341L on offer in the Focus. In fact, the Peugeot’s boot is on par with some mid-size SUVs and had plenty of space to spare with my usual equipment stored alongside our largest 124L CarsGuide suitcase.
The GT-Line has the same engine as the lesser Allure, a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit.
It produces a less-than-impressive sounding 96kW/230Nm, but there’s more to the story than just the numbers. We’ll explore this in the driving section.
It’s mated to a six-speed (torque converter) automatic (produced by Aisin). Sad you can no longer get the eight-speed auto which the 308 GT had mated to its more powerful four-cylinder engine.
The 308 GT-Line has an official/combined cycle fuel consumption claim of just 5.0L/100km. Sounds plausible given its small engine, but your mileage may vary.
Mine varied a lot. After a week behind the wheel in predominantly urban environments my Pug was showing a computer-reported figure of a less-impressive 8.5L/100km. I was quite enjoying driving it, though.
The 308 requires 95RON mid-grade unleaded petrol and has a fuel tank capacity of 53 litres for a maximum theoretical range of 1233km between fills. Good luck matching that.
It does have a low CO2 emissions rating of 113g/km in order to comply with the latest strict Euro6 requirements in its home market.
Regardless, the 308 now has a competitive active safety suite consisting of auto emergency braking (works from 0-140km/h and detects pedestrians and cyclists), lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, and driver attention alert. There’s no rear cross-traffic alert or adaptive cruise on the 308.
Outside of those features there are six airbags, an the expected suite of stability, brake, and traction controls.
The 308 has two ISOFIX and three top-tether child-seat mounting points across the second row.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
Service pricing is fixed for the life of the warranty, too, with each 12 month/15,000km service costing between $391 and $629 for a yearly average of $500.80. These services are far from cheap but are promised to be inclusive of most expendable items.
I can confidently say the 308 is as good to drive as it is to look at. Despite its average sounding power figures, the 308 feels as though it’s more punchy than its more powerful VW Golf rival.
The 230Nm of peak torque is available from a low 1750rpm, giving you a nice dollop of pulling power after an initial second of turbo-lag, but the 308’s real trick is its slender 1122kg weight.
This gives it a spritely feeling both under acceleration and while cornering, which is just plain fun. The three-cylinder engine produces a distant but satisfying gravelly rasp, and the six-speed transmission, while not as lightening fast as a VW-group dual-clutch, advances through the cogs with confidence and purpose.
The ride is firm overall, with seemingly very little travel, but consistently surprised me with its forgiving nature over some of the worst road corrugations. It’s a happy medium – toward the firm side, but nothing extreme.
The relative quietness in the cabin is also impressive, with the engine barely making itself known most of the time, and road noise only really increasing above 80km/h.
The steering is direct and responsive, letting you point the hatch accurately. This feeling is enhanced in 'Sport' mode, which stiffens up the ratio and, naturally, makes the dial cluster glow red.
While it’s more of a driver’s car than most it does still suffer from annoying moments of turbo lag off the mark, exacerbated by the all-too-keen stop-start system which frequently cuts the engine at inconvenient times in slow-moving traffic.
It does somehow yearn for more power, too, especially with its well sorted ride, but that ship sailed with its GT big brother earlier this year.
I love this car. It looks fantastic and will impress you with its refined but sporty drive experience that betrays the numbers and its age.
I fear its tall pricing sets it against better value rivals, though, which ultimately will leave it stuck in its strange little French niche.
|Active||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$20,200 – 27,500||2020 Peugeot 308 2020 Active Pricing and Specs|
|Allure||1.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$24,000 – 32,560||2020 Peugeot 308 2020 Allure Pricing and Specs|
|GT||1.6L, ULP, 8 SP||$31,600 – 41,360||2020 Peugeot 308 2020 GT Pricing and Specs|
|GT Line Limited Edition||1.2L, ULP, 6 SP||$26,600 – 35,200||2020 Peugeot 308 2020 GT Line Limited Edition Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||6|
|Engine & trans||7|