Peugeot introduced their 308 GTi to the market late last year and it received a relatively warm reception. The 308 enters a market populated with some big names, such as the Honda Civic Type R, the Ford Focus RS, Seat Leon Cupra and Golf GTi. The closest competition, based on power and price, comes from the noisy neighbours Renault with their award winning Megane 275.
Let’s start off with what they have in common. They’re both french, they’re both turbocharged, they both send their power to the front wheels and the both seat 5.
The 308 GTi boasts a healthy 265 horsepower, which is extremely impressive coming from the 1.6 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine but is slightly less than the Megane 275 which, if you hadn’t guessed, has an extra 10bhp - 275 in total.
This is the same 1.6 unit that Peugeot use in the 208 GTi and the RCZ R - it’s a properly good unit, arguably the best of all the 1.6 turbo units placed in hot hatches nowadays, the Fiesta ST and Corsa VXR included. The 308 may be slightly down on power compared to the Megane, but it weighs quite a bit less too. The Megane comes in at around 1,400kg but the 308 is just 1,208kg and that is a significant difference.
How does the power difference affect performance? Well the Megane will spring from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and the 308 will do the same sprint in 6.2 seconds, so the difference is marginal but the bragging rights go to the Renault.
Hot-hatches are good fun for a number of reasons, most importantly they succeed because they are easy to live with, like their non-hot family members.
The Renault falls short here though because the Megane 275 is available as only a 3-door coupé, whereas with the Peugeot, like the Ford Focus, is only available with 5 doors. The latter is perfect if you want to balance your hot-hatch hooliganism with menial chores, like taking the kids to school or shipping passengers around. On the other hand if you’re a full-time nuisance on the roads and you can tolerate your human-cargo having to negotiate the inconvenience of folding seats, then the Megane should be fine.
Aesthetically, the Megane edges ahead here. It’s subjective of course, but the coupé design does make the Megane look like a missile on the roads whereas the 308 takes a much more conservative approach, with the dual exhausts, large alloys, lowered suspension a side skirts setting it apart from the standard 308.
It’s still a very pretty car, the 308 GTi, but it depends how committed to the cause you are. Again, full-blown tarmac tearaways will prefer to be seen driving the Megane, but the 308 is a bit more mature, still blisteringly quick and still great fun.
Practicality-wise, the 308 takes the cake. There’s a whopping 470 litres of boot space to play with. That’s 150 litres more than the Ford Focus and 90 litres more than the Volkswagen Golf.
The Megane only offers 377 litres of boot space here and the rear legroom is worse than the 308 too. It really isn’t the most practical of cars. You could avoid the leg room being an issue by going to the used-car market and buying the Trophy R version of the Megane, which doesn’t have rear seats at all so nobody can complain about being cramped in the back, because they’ll be getting the bus.
So which is the best?
As usual, it depends what you’re after.
If you just want to go fast, smash through corners at tyre-tearing speeds and look boisterous, the Megane is a great car. Exceptional in fact. It looks good, handles fantastically and makes some really raucous noises from the single-exit, wide exhaust in the centre of the rear bumper. It’s got a rather firm suspension set-up, so ride comfort is a slight sacrifice you’ll have to make, similarly there are some significant practicality issues as we’ve mentioned. It’s all worth it for the hardcore petrol head.
Interested in the Renaultsport Megane 275?
The 308 targets a different section of the hot-hatch enthusiasts. The 308 GTi is extremely easy to live with and has the same practicality as the superb 308 in it’s standard form. It’s also cheaper to run, offering 47mpg on the combined cycle compared to the Megane which only returns 27mpg - these figures are assuming you have an extremely sensible right foot, as both cars are constantly daring you to ‘give it a squeeze’ from the lights. If you’re looking for something a bit unconventional, a lot more exciting, and something that won’t mean a noticeable lifestyle change - the Peugeot 308 GTi is the one for you.