Here at Autoindustriya.com, we have become fans of Peugeot's C-Segment offering, the 308. We've tested the hatchback and we were impressed with the car overall. Then we tested tested the SW or station wagon and the 308 continued to show its talents off in a more practical, diesel-powered package. And then there was the 308 GTI 270 amped up the adrenaline and put a big smile on our managing editor's face.
So now, we arrive at this, the 308 GT Line Hatchback. At first glance, it tries to combine all three elements of the past 308s we've tested. It promises to deliver the sharp dynamics of the hatch, combined with the efficient turbodiesel seen in the wagon plus some of the sporting characteristics of the GTI 270. It sounds like a promising concoction but there's a saying in culinary arts that mixing good ingredients together won't necessarily result in a fine dish. Well, there's only one way to find out if Peugeot managed to get it just right.
So what makes the 308 GT Line a step above the standard 308 Allure? For starters, the Peugeot badge moves from near the edge of the hood to the grill. Speaking of its grill, the slats are more emphasized with an “egg crate” look. It also has a different front bumper, incorporating foglights with LED corner signals, as well as GT Line exclusive alloy wheels.
On to its side, there's a molded piece of trim just below the doors. At the rear, there are dual exhaust pipes in lieu of the single downpipe in the Allure. Of course, there are smatterings of GT Line badges on the grill, fender and the tailgate. As far as exterior upgrades go, this is a subtle one. That doesn't mean it enhanced the already handsome styling. It's well complemented by this menacing shade of Nera Black.
In tune with the sporty theme, it gets a black interior with red stitching throughout the cabin. It does get power seats for the driver plus the benefit of a memory function. No more fiddling with the adjusters after someone uses the car before you. Speaking of its seats, it gets thicker bolsters and an embossed GT badge on the headrests. Perhaps at odds with the 308 GT Line's sporting intentions are the massaging seats. While certainly not a bad thing, it simply struck me as an odd feature to put in a sport-oriented car. Then again, GT means Grand Touring, a car that's designed for long drives in comfort.
The rest of the cabin is standard 308 fare. You get the like it or loathe it i-Cockpit dashboard layout, as well as the “do everything” infotainment system. The infotainment system houses not just the media functions, but also the automatic climate control system as well. That explains the lack of buttons on the center console. It gives the dash a cleaner, less cluttered look but it gives the 308 mixed-bag ergonomics. All the controls on one screen means you have to shuffle around the menus to do simple tasks such as adjusting fan speed or changing the radio station. Still, it's a high quality interior with a premium feel thanks to soft touch materials.
Lift the aluminum hood open and you are greeted by the same 1.6-liter HDi turbodiesel as seen in the 308 SW. Figures look conservative with an output of 120 PS and 300 Nm of torque, not something you'd expect from a car badged “GT”. Then again, this very engine was rather impressive in the station wagon. With a much lighter car to pull, maybe there's more to this engine than meets the eye.
Startups are a relatively quiet affair with just a muffled clatter from the turbodiesel mill. Step inside however, and it's much quieter. For people getting into a Peugeot for the first time, some of them mistook it for a gas-fed car on idle. It's even smooth when the revs go up. Couple that with the comfortable seats and it's starting to feel more like a plush compact sedan than a warm hatchback.
Having driven the 308 Allure in the past, I was expecting the GT to come with a back breaking ride. After all, it comes equipped with sportier suspension and low profile tires. Despite that, it still soaks up the bumps pretty well. Granted, it feels firmer and more road imperfections can be felt but it wasn't harsh at all. In city streets, the car doesn't pitch around on bad surfaces and only muffled thumps let you know you're driving on bad roads.
As far as the engine goes, it performs well beyond the 120 PS rating on the spec sheet. Being lighter than the wagon, the 308 GT Line feels more sprightly than the 1.6-liter THP gas engine in the Allure. There's a hint of lag at the start, it then shoots you forward, followed by a wave of torque afterwards. While the engine doesn't sound sporty, the way it delivers power is impressive. This was especially handy when it came to overtaking on the highway. Simply give the accelerator a small squeeze and you'll be overtaking two to three cars with ease and confidence.
That performance is well complemented by the car's refinement. The car's suspension setup soaked up bumps well in the city but it really shined on the highway. Strong crosswinds and undulations on the expressway didn't phase the 308 GT Line, perhaps expected as the standard Allure variant rides similarly. Noise isolation was another forte of the hatchback albeit with a little more tire roar as it was riding on sticky Michelen Pilot Sport 3 tires. Other than that, the 308 GT Line has all the makings of a long-distance cruiser. It also steers pretty well too thanks to its direct steering and that sport-oriented suspension. As I said before, a good handling car is a safe car.
Speaking of long distances, the 308 GT Line can also take you further on a single tank. During its stay with me, it averaged 12.8 kilometers per liter at an average pace of just 18 km/h around the city. On the highway and that figure jumped to an impressive 23.4 kilometers per liter with an average speed of 88 km/h. These figures are based on the car's on board computer and was done with no assistance from the stop-start system. With the heat we've been experiencing lately, the stop-start system automatically disables itself once the outside temperature hits 35 degrees Celsius.
So far, the 308 GT Line continues to impress but it's far from perfect. Surprisingly, there was a lapse in quality. Parked under the hot sun, the rear tailgate refused to fully close, as if there was a rubber seal preventing it to latch on to the lock. This forced me to press the seal into place until the tailgate was secured. The other issue? The price.
Take a deep breath as this hatchback retails for, wait for it, PhP 1,890,000. You can look at the price in two ways. You could argue that, for a C-Segment hatch, it is very expensive, particularly when you compare it to the Japanese marques. On the other hand, it handily undercuts its European counterparts such as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. In terms of pricing then it's in between mainstream and luxury.
If you could stomach the price then by all means go for it. It offers a lot of comfort, good driving dynamics and a lot of equipment, plus, it has bags of character too. Should you choose this car, you'll probably be one of the few to get to enjoy its talents.