Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
Some people don’t like to drive manual cars because they find it troublesome for the hands and feet to do extra work. These people then have to try the Peugeot 308 GTi. This 1.6-litre turbocharged five-door hatchback from the French carmaker is such a breeze to drive – with easy engagement of gears and pedal work.
Under the hood, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine there is the same one that you will find in the RCZ coupe, the beautiful two-door from the same makers. Housing 200 horses waiting to unleash its maximum at 5,800rpm, the 308 GTi has minimal body roll into corners and strong brakes to help handle these horses as well as the ever-ready 275Nm of torque from 1,700rpm up.
Working the six-speed manual gearbox was simple and straightforward, with smooth and crisp gear changes that can take you from zero to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds.
The 308 GTi’s sporty demeanour is apparent throughout the car from front to back and inside: Its front hosts a chrome-framed grille with a black bumper and bi-Xenon directional headlights with black housing and boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights; while the rear has dual chrome exhaust pipes, a black diffuser, a chrome strip between its rear lights and a roof spoiler. Inside, the part-leather sports seats come with red stitching and there is a flat-bottomed GTi steering wheel, alloy gearknob and aluminium sports pedals to add to the whole sport performance feel.
Wind noise or road noise is kept to a minimum within the cabin which provides comfortable seats for both the front passengers as well as those in the back. The large panoramic glass roof of the 308 GTi allows for copious amounts of natural daylight to brighten up the cabin. But before you start thinking along the lines of greenhouse effect and in-cabin warming, passengers of the 308 GTi would be glad to know that the sunroof glass is UV-tinted and there are also electronic blinds that will help to reduce heat and block out sunlight.
Giving passengers as much pleasure as possible, the 308 GTi comes with Bluetooth, a USB port, aux-in to hook up your personal collection of music, an MP3-compatible CD player, dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, automatic dimming rear view mirror and automatic rain and light sensors.
Boasting the 5-star Euro NCAP, safety is a definite priority with the 308 GTi – it has six airbags, a collapsible steering column that is able to retract so that the engine and gearbox do not get pushed back into the cabin, along with electronic driving aids such as the Electronic Stability Programme and Electronic Brake Force Distribution that maintains the car stability at all times, even in emergencies.
Driving a manual car is the best way to feel the raw power of the car and have more control over the drive. With technologies getting more advanced and the possibility of self-drive auto-pilot types of cars in the future, I hope that manual cars like the 308 GTi continue to exist so we can appreciate the beauty of driving in its as-natural-as-it-can-get element. In times of such high COE prices, the 1.6-litre turbocharged formula offered in the 308 GTi is perfect – paying for Category A COE but getting the performance of a higher class.
By the way, do note that the “i” in the 308 GTi’s name is in lower case, unlike that of the Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Technical Specifications - Peugeot 308 GTi 1.6 (M)
Engine: 1,598cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged
Performance: 200bhp/5,800rpm, 275Nm/1,700rpm, 0-100 7.7 secs
Top Speed: 237km/h
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Price with COE: S$152,800
Testdrive & Enquiries: AutoFrance
Tel: 6376 2288
(+) Easy-to-drive manual car suited for Singapore traffic
(-) COE prices are such a pain now
Verdict: Solid case to convert auto lovers
*This was first published in Wheels Asia.
For more photos of the Peugeot 308 GTi, view here.