The Peugeot 300 series has been with us for decades, and for 2023, it’s got a new emblem, sleek sophisticated looks, and an injection of tech. The 308 GT Hatch has been given a serious dose of French inspired pizzazz.
But with a mere 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine up front, does it really deserve the GT badge. Sure, it’s a beautiful looking vehicle, it has almost perfect proportions, with a much higher level of road presence than ever before.
This is enhanced by a bold new emblem and extensive, yet tasteful, use of LED daytime driving lights that stream away from the matrix headlights, like – well tears. The rear is equally as impressive with the brand’s three-claw design brake lights, that flick upwards.
The twin exhaust pipes are neatly hidden by angular chrome looking trim and it has a wide, bold look, with horizonal gloss black trim used to link the rear lighting extravaganza. Step inside, and it’s immediately apparent that the look and feel is very non-Peugeot.
Rather, it feels a little Audi. Let us explain what we mean. The sense of drive refinement is cosseted and simply marvellous, rivalling just about any luxury hatch you could imagine. The only hint of Peugeot-ness, is the steering wheel.
It’s a glaring hint obviously, but the unusual dual flat bottomed multi-function steering wheel remains, and it’s still rather small. Initially, you may also struggle to find a seating position that allows you to peer through the wheel at the i-Cockpit setup.
The 10-inch 3D instrument cluster soon ceases to be an issue though. On that, some people tell me they find them a little disconcerting, like staring at an eclipse.
That said, if you can’t handle looking at dials and other information that appears to have layers and depth, you can simply turn it off and go old school 2D.
Peugeot has also managed to pull off a very 2023 i-Connect system that is presented on a crystal clear 10.0-inch high-definition screen. The cabin really is a splendid affair with slim, horizonal air vents, excellent ergonomics, and a certain richness and class.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is always a goodie too, although if you want a sunroof and more luxurious Nappa leather clad seats that are also electrically adjustable and have memory settings, you’ll need to upgrade to the GT Premium model.
Many new cars these days have dispensed with anything that resembles a gear shifter. This fad continues on the 308 GT with a line of buttons to select Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive or Manual, the latter for if you’d like to make use of the paddle shifters.
It’s certainly one way to declutter the centre console area, allowing more space for cup holders, charging ports, and wireless phone charging capability. The back pew is small but well catered for, with air vents and a couple of USB-C charge ports.
Leg room for most is going to be tight, as is any chance of extended trips with three humans, be it kids or adults. Boot space sits at 412-litres, or 1,323-litres with the rear seats folded down, in a 60:40 configuration.
That’s bigger than the current Volkswagen Golf Hatch that has a respective 374-litres/1,230-litres. Don’t go looking for any type of spare wheel though, there ain’t one – just a tyre repair kit. Good luck with that.
A 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine under the hood is good for 96kW and 230Nm. It uses a seamless eight-speed automatic transmission that almost makes a mockery of the need to ever self-shift.
The only issue with this particular powertrain is that I’m tempted to say it’s just too bloody slow. This is true in one sense, after all it does take an enormous 9.7 seconds to reach 100km/h, keeping in mind the brand has slapped on a GT badge.
Realistically though, I can’t think of too many instances when you’re randomly bolting from zero to hero without being a menace. Once rolling, the gruff sounding turbo three-cylinder is very adequate at delivering real world acceleration.
There will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) arriving soon, which will up the pace to 165kW and 360Nm. That would be my choice and will be a much better match to the overall, almost menacing stance Peugeot have given the new 308 GT Hatch.
The one size fits all suspension tune is spot on, with terrific poise and a sublime ability to iron out most surfaces. I do struggle with the steering wheel a little myself, but the 308 GT is most certainly chuck-able into corners if you desire.
It’s predictable, very well tied down on those 18-inch rims and despite a lack of grunt, rather fun once up and going. It’s pretty damn safe too with active safety brake with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keep assist and driver attention warning.
It’s also got adaptive cruise with a stop function, full matrix LED headlights, rear cross traffic alert and a 360-degree surround view parking camera. The 2023 Peugeot 308 GT Hatch (as tested) is priced from $43,990 before on-roads.
The Elixir Red metallic paintwork will set you back an additional $690. I don’t know why you’d bother going for that, as the leather and suede bolstered seats include Olivine Green stitching.
The latter is the standard metallic lick of paint and in my view the hero colour. For peace of mind, the French offer a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-year roadside assist and 5-year service price promise program.
You can find out more on the Peugeot Australia website, and if you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
Our test vehicle was provided by Peugeot Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Peugeot 308 GT Hatch, contact your local Peugeot dealer.