2019 Peugeot 308 GT EAT8 review (video)

As car numbers drop in Australia over stronger preferences for SUVs, Peugeot continues to push with one of its most popular nameplates. For 2019, the 308 GT is added to the lineup with an all-new engine and eight-speed auto transmission, improved dynamics, and a minor interior and exterior update. Get in quick, as the GT is limited to just 140 examples in Australia.

Peugeot is one of the few brands that still produces models in its home country, France. And the 308 is one of them. In Australia we can choose from the Active, Allure, the GT, GTi, or Allure Touring (wagon). We’re testing the GT variant here, positioning itself as a semi-premium warm hatch. It comes with a hot little 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot engine that produces 165kW and 285Nm (up from the 151kW manual-only predecessor).

Prices begin at $30,732 for the 308 Active. The new GT will set you back $39,990, including the new eight-speed auto (plus on-road costs). Unfortunately, there is no more manual option. At the time of writing there is also a drive-away price offer of $36,990 for the GT.

2019 Peugeot 308 GT – THE SPECS

Engine: 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder
Output: 165kW@5500rpm / 285Nm@1750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 225/40
ANCAP: Five stars (based on 2014 model)
Tare weight: 1176kg
Power-to-weight: 7.12:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.0L/100km
Economy during test: 5.6L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 53L/95 RON

Power efficiency: 27.5kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.60 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.92 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.47 seconds*
1/8 mile: 10.03 seconds at 125.5km/h*
1/4 mile: 15.18 seconds at 154.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.702g
100-0km/h braking: 2.92 seconds at 37.36 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.166g
Decibel at idle: 40*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 81*
Priced from: $39,990

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2019 Peugeot 308 GT – THE PACKAGE

There’s quite a lot going for this hot number, including a lengthy feature list. The GT gets you 18-inch alloys, blind-spot warning with active assistance, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian avoidance, front and rear parking sensors, auto steering parking assist, distance-controlled cruise control, road sign recognition, auto-dipping high beam, paddle shifters, and a multimedia touch-screen with Android Auto, Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and digital radio. But it does miss out on a fully digital instrument cluster and wireless phone charging capability, which are featured on some competitors.

It wins points with its attractive European yet conservative styling. Contours from front to rear are smooth and clean. The dotted LED lights at the front and three strong-stroked lights at the rear make the hatch stand out from the crowd. We find the overall shape of the car cute and well-proportioned, with no chunky bits of plastic protruding out like on some rivals.

Even though Peugeot claims the interior has been updated, it still seems behind the competition in terms of quality and design. The new gear shifter is quite snazzy with its arcade game style angle, and the door lining and vents look stylish with brushed metal accents. But there are a few too many hard-plastic areas, not many storage holes, some steering wheel buttons are not backlit. The analogue instrument cluster with a small information screen looks dated as well.

Peugeot measures the centre multimedia screen at 9.7-inches, but it’s much smaller if you exclude the area loss from the permanent buttons on the border. This means that the reversing camera picture size is tiny, and of low resolution quality. The interior is also very dark during the night. A lack of footwell lighting and ill-placed ceiling lights leaves you scrambling around the cabin at nighttime. During the day though, the cabin feel is calm and reserved.

The GT receives a mix of leather and suede seating with neat contrasting red stitching. The seats provide lots of side support with their sporty bucket shape. It’s a comfortable place to be in the front, and you don’t feel hemmed in. In the rear, space isn’t as generous, but that’s just this segment in general. Though, it could be improved if rear climate vents were presented.

In the boot the 308 has one of the most generous boot sizes in this class, measuring in at 470 litres. For comparison, the Toyota Corolla hatch measures in at just 333 litres, the Holden Astra is 360 litres, and the Mazda3 hatch is 295 litres. Access to the boot is effortless too, with a low lip to lift items over.

2019 Peugeot 308 GT – THE DRIVE

Kudos to Peugeot for fitting the GT with a nicely updated performance engine. The new 1.6-litre turbo pumps out 165kW at 5500rpm, but it has no qualms to rev above that. It makes it an extremely enthralling car to drive. Flicking the button to sports mode and putting your foot down creates an explosion of zippiness and a beautiful exhaust note. 1176kg is quite light, which helps the sporty theme along. We love the engine; it’s enthusiastic and fun to punch through the gears.

Unfortunately, the 0-100km/h test doesn’t seem to be the best way to convey how eager the 308 GT is. It’s officially timed at 7.4 seconds, and our testing revealed 6.92 seconds. There are other warm hatches on the market with less power that have measured a quicker time than this – such as the 147kW Holden Astra RS-V (6.42 seconds). But there’s more to the 308 than the standardised sprint. Like how frugal the engine is.

Being a higher performing engine means that it requires a minimum of 95 RON fuel. But, there are lots of other hot hatches requiring this as well. Official tests say the new 308 GT burns an average of 6.0L/100km. During our harsher real-world testing, we averaged an astounding 5.6L/100km. We put a lot of this down to the new Aisin-sourced eight-speed auto transmission. It seems to always have the perfect gear ratio for the given demands.

Unfortunately, the GT is no longer available with a manual for outright sportiness. During performance driving the transmission seems quick and responsive. But during daily driving, we couldn’t help but notice an acceleration delay. Once the car is off to a start, the gears change impressively quickly, triggering a cool snort from the exhaust. But it’s that initial take-off that needs to be improved. It’s most noticeable when driving calmly, and then seems to improves as you up the tempo.

The ride and handling also makes the 308 GT such a fun car to drive. The ride is firmer than your run-of-the-mill hatch, but that allows you to throw it around any corner with haste and confidence. It will hold onto a cornering line like glue. In fact, you have to really push it before it starts to give way to tyre squeal.

The steering is very tight-knit and light, and very responsive. The quick-ratio gearing also goes a long way to create that zippy and dart-like feel, as you don’t have to turn the wheel much to change the direction of your tracking. And the chassis and suspension setup is ready to catch any prompt movements. We’re not hugely enthused about the tiny steering wheel, but it does enhance that sporty character we guess.

2019 Peugeot 308 GT – THE VIDEO

2019 Peugeot 308 GT – THE VERDICT

If we were posed with the question: “Which semi-sporty hatch should I buy?” We would tell you to consider the Peugeot 308 GT. It has one of the most frugal turbo-petrol engines we’ve ever seen in this class, and for this power output. And it’s such an exciting little car to drive with its zippy handling and tight steering. It’s a great half-way point (or maybe three-quarter-way point) for a hot hatch if you’re not really into the excessive bodykits, uncomfortable racing-style seats and suspension, and higher fuel consumption.

In our opinion the only improvements that would make the 308 GT a more defining contender in this field would be a more thoughtful interior with more premium-feel materials, and an improvement on acceleration on initial take-off.

Peugeot has some decent offers on some of the 308 range at the time of writing this. And the brand offers a generous five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing intervals are also required less often than the average hatch, at 20,000km or 12 months.

– Sporty and zippy, feels very light on its feet (1176kg weight)
– Attractive, well-proportioned European styling
– Impressively low fuel consumption (we averaged 5.6L/100km)
– New eight-speed auto supports sporty driving
– Boot size for this class (470L)

– No manual anymore
– Laggy transmission when driven softly
– Interior; hard plastics, not enough lighting at nighttime, lack of storage options

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