2023 Peugeot 308 GT review – hatch & wagon (video)

Alexi Falson

This is the stylish new 2023 Peugeot 308, though this one comes wearing a GT badge that might actually be at odds with what’s sitting underneath the bonnet.

With the new model, the 308 GT strikes a bold first impression with Peugeot’s latest and undeniably striking design package, but the question remains: how does the substance underneath that fancy styling translate on roads here in Australia?

The 308 GT Premium variant doesn’t come cheap, with prices standing at a hefty $48,990 (before on-roads). That puts it in lock step with heavy hitters like premium variants of the Mazda3, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf and entry-level variants of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

We’re lucky to still have access to the wagon form – an offering that has almost completely disappeared in this small car category in Australia. Though, the wagon comes in GT Premium guise only and retails from $50,490 (before on-road costs).

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder
Output: 96kW@5500rpm / 230Nm@1750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 225/40
ANCAP: Four stars
Tare weight: 1258kg
Power-to-weight: 13.10:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 5.3L/100km
Economy during test: 6.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 52L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 18.11kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.38 seconds*
0-100km/h: 9.70 seconds*
60-110km/h: 7.10 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.99 seconds at 135.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.623g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.90 seconds at 37.60 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.155g*
Decibel at idle: 41*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $48,990[/column][end_columns]

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium wagon – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 1.2-litre turbo three-cylinder
Output: 96kW@5500rpm / 230Nm@1750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×8.0, 225/40
ANCAP: Four stars
Tare weight: 1314kg
Power-to-weight: 13.68:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 5.3L/100km
Economy during test: 7.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 52L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 18.11kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 4.85 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.67 seconds*
60-110km/h: 7.69 seconds*
1/4 mile: 17.60 seconds at 129.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.636g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.91 seconds at 37.95 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.222g*
Decibel at idle: 41*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $50,490[/column][end_columns]

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

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium – THE PACKAGE

Peugeot has gone to town with the 308 GT’s styling package, and the results are, in our mind, fabulous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, so we’ll let you judge it for yourself.

What we can say walking around the body is that the design feels properly curated, with a heap of minute design features from the radical taillight sculpting through to the sharp body lines and the updated front end. These culminate in a very charming yet focussed hatchback aesthetic.

In terms of features, the GT variant picks up a unique ‘Portland’ design for the 18-inch alloys, upgraded Nappa leather upholstery with heated and massaging seats, a panoramic sunroof, a surround-view camera system and a 10-speaker sound system from Focal.

This is atop the entry-level 308 GT’s feature list that includes matrix LED headlights, keyless entry and start, a leather steering wheel, ambient lighting package and the 3D i-Cockpit that adds a 10-inch 3D instrument cluster atop the dash and a 10-inch infotainment system with digital radio and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

As we’ve come to expect from Peugeot, the attention to styling detail very much extends to the interior, which we’re confident you won’t have experienced in a car before.

The tiny flat top-and-bottom steering wheel is a sign of the quirkiness to come, with Peugeot’s 10-inch three-dimensional ‘i-Cockpit’ display taking some time to adjust to, though it doesn’t age like a gimmick after some time behind the wheel.

Up front, the driver and passenger are separated by a substantial centre console that raises to meet the halfway point of the dashboard, with a covered set of cup holders and some decent storage options making for a reasonably practical package.

The infotainment system is far from our favourite on the market, though it does everything it says on the tin, albeit with a somewhat confusing menu layout that can feel a little overwhelming at first.

There are a set of adjustable shortcuts which is a nice touch, allowing owners to set their favourites on the bottom that remain in place for easy access, while the upgraded 10-speaker Focal audio system sounds absolutely fantastic.

The touch points all feel luxurious, with Alcantara weaving its way across the doors and the Nappa leather seats feeling fantastic underneath that make for a wonderfully premium interior package.

While the design provides the driver and front passenger with a first-class experience, the space and practicality in the rear is more akin to an economy seat – apart from the lovely leather seats.

Rear space is disappointing, with our typical driving positions leaving just a small amount of rear legroom that is more suited to children than ever really accommodating an adult without sacrificing a tonne of front legroom. It’s quite obvious that this is a hatch designed to shower those in the front with luxury, but this has come at the expense of the second row’s usability.

The 308 GT attempts to make up for this with its decent 412L of boot space, though it’s clear that if practicality is a key concern, we’d be locking in a test drive of the wagon variant. The hatch is more suitable as a tool for work commutes and hops around town for couples, rather than families.

The wagon has a surprisingly roomy boot for a corolla-sized category car, giving it a huge boost in practicality. It’s tall, wide, and deep, offering 608 litres of volume or 1634 litres if you fold the rear seats down. With a 270mm overall length increase over the hatch, it’s the perfect modern car for throwing the surf board in and heading to the beach.

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium – THE DRIVE

The French-built 308 GT is more of a GT in name than in spirit, with power supplied by a willing little 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder that produces 96kW/230Nm, paired with an eight-speed torque-converter automatic that powers the front wheels.

The acceleration on offer is particularly leisurely, to say it kindly, and is accompanied by a surprisingly thrashy soundtrack from the little three-pot under harsh acceleration. The official 0-100km/h time is a very casual 9.7 seconds for the hatch, and 9.9 seconds for the wagon. We clocked it in 10.67 seconds in the wagon and 9.70 seconds in the hatch.

Just be sure to remove any excitement over the ‘GT’ in the name from your expectations. It hits real-world city speeds in a much more respectable manner, with a decent 0-60km/h time of 4.38 seconds.

Having said that, in everyday driving the powertrain doesn’t feel out of its depth and actually excels when it comes to short bursts of acceleration around town, with some particularly smooth shifts from the auto that remains well behaved around town. In practice, it easily keeps up with demanding traffic flow.

The transmission prefers to hold onto gears while you’re stretching the 308’s legs, but a quick flip of the wheel-mounted paddles helps you find some of the torque lower down in the rev range.

After being slightly disappointed by the powertrain’s lack of power, we are pleasantly surprised by the chassis and suspension package on offer, which is far more capable than the power plant Peugeot has fitted. The front end responds quickly to sharp inputs and the body remains impressively flat, hinting at the platform’s true potential when pushed, and showing some true personality when pushed in the curves.

The EMP2 V3 chassis feels ready to work with a much more powerful engine under the bonnet, and is a particular highlight of the 308 GT’s overall driving experience in our view.

The MacPherson strut-style front suspension and semi-independent twist-beam rear end is no doubt on the firmer side around town but remains accommodating enough for bumps and surface irregularities, and gives it a much-needed spark and charm when you throw it into some corners – in hatch and wagon form.

This is typical for some of Europe’s premium entrants here in Australia, though it lends itself particularly well on daily drives around town and even long distance highway trips thanks to its refined ride and well-insulated cabin.

The 308 GT’s agile handling and capable suspension makes for a great city car that is happy to dart around town and in a supremely user-friendly package thanks to its lightweight steering rack.

In terms of fuel economy, we were hoping for great things from the small three-cylinder engine, but it proved unable to achieve its official figures of 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle. Our average in the hatch was 6.5L/100km in a mix of town and highway driving. We drove the wagon more around the city than highway, which resulted in a steeper average of 7.5L/100km. There is definitely room for improvement when you consider the engine capacity and lower power outputs.

To sum up, while it might be a GT by name and not really by nature, the only real thing holding the 308 back from its true potential is the powerplant; the chassis and suspension package are fabulous.

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium – THE VIDEO

2023 Peugeot 308 GT Premium – THE VERDICT

Is the Peugeot 308 GT an exercise in style over substance? With its Australian price tag considered, in many ways, yes… but it does well to justify its price both in driving dynamics and its luxurious features list for this Premium variant.

On the road, the chassis and suspension package is so capable that the 308 GT actually feels held back by the turbo three-pot, though for the majority of drivers it will serve as a refined and cheerful little hatch or wagon around town.

Are there more sensible hatchbacks on the market? Most definitely, yes. But the Peugeot 308 GT platform feels unique and premium enough to stand on its own feet and remains a charismatic offering for those looking for a stylish European small car or a rare small wagon.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Fabulous handling dynamics
– Stylish design inside and out
– Generous features list filled with premium touches
– Great sound system
– Available as a wagon (very cool design)
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Underwhelming performance, not deserving of GT badge
– Cramped second row
– High price for this segment
– 4-star ANCAP[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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