$0-50K: Peugeot 308 GT #12

My French is limited to just enough words to get me into trouble and not quite enough to get me back out again.

Peugeot’s relationship with ergonomics seems to be ringing the same bell. Wouldn’t matter, for instance, how clear and concise the 308’s gauges were, because most people, from their normal seated position, can’t see ‘em.

That’s thanks to that must-be-French arrangement that places the dials right behind the tiller. Oh, and the backwards tach? Didn’t work in the Aston V8, didn’t work in the Bertone X/19, so why does Peugeot think it’ll work here? C’mon…

Thigs didn’t improve for me once I’d fired the GT up and ventured beyond pit-wall. We just didn’t get on. I returned to the pits grumbling. It was young Newman who reckoned I was being harsh.

Peugeot 308 take offSo, to humour him (and because I wanted the 308 to be better than I currently thought it was) I went back for another lash at it a couple of hours later. Who was right? Let’s call it a split decision: The 308 GT is not as ordinary as I first thought, but neither is it as good as Scotty would have me believe.

The numbers, just for starter, don’t paint a real rosy picture. Nought to 100 takes 7.7 agonising seconds (the Citroen is quicker for Pete’s sake) and the 400m consumes 15.5 valuable ticks. Terminal velocity tells the sorry tale, too; just 149.9km/h at the end of those 400m.

So was it any better around the corners? Yes, actually, and its speed through the sweeper was a further-up-the-field 108km/h. Not great, not terrible. But here’s the big surprise: Through the slow Turn Nine, the 306 GT was the fastest car under 50K at BFYB this year. Say again. Yep, way faster than anything else in its category.

Peugeot 308 turnThis suggests a balance that is otherwise hidden beneath those crook ergos and a pair of front seats that do their bets to hurl you from the moving vehicle rather than keep you positioned accurately behind that teensy tiller.

But I’m sticking to my original guns for the most part. The controls are definitely a bit light and I could use a bit more feel through the wheel and pedals. In fact, not knowing how hard to hit the picks at the end of each straight was the main concern and the thing that prevented a flowing lap. And, as such, judging entry speed became just as hit and miss. Sometimes I got lucky, sometimes I didn’t. The statement that Luffy didn’t have this problem is balanced by my assertion that your abilities are probably closer to mine than they are to W. Luff’s.

0-100km/h – 7.70sec (12th)
0-400m – 15.50sec @ 149.40km/h (11th)
Lap time – 1:2.90sec (=7th)

Overall Scoring

Bang Index – 80.6
Price - $41,990
Bucks Index – 83.7
BFYB Index – 123.1

Judges’ Rankings

Campbell 10th – “There’s talent in there for sure, but it certainly errs closer to planted than playful.”

Morley 11th – “Please don’t let the 308 GTi be this with more poke.”

Newman 9th – “Not fast, but engine’s keen and chassis is foolproof.”

Spinks 10th – “Not a bad steer, but leaves plenty of room for GTi version to occupy.”

Luffy 8th – “It's really well balanced on the limit and it gives a lot of feedback. It's probably a little bit soft when changing directions, and there's a lot of wheelspin on the inside front, but it's very direct in its steering. It has really good brakes and it's good over the bumps. It’s just a nice all-round package.”

 

 

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