The French have had a record of some fantastic hot-hatch artistry over the years, a record that stopped recording anything of note in more recent times. Peugeot alone was responsible for some of the finest affordable tomfoolery on four-wheels available anywhere ever, with legends such as the 205 GTI and the featherweight 106 Rallye, not to mention the rally monsters of the Group B era such as the T16 homologation special.
Peugeot however — unlike Renault whose latest Clio can’t live up to its celebrated predecessors — is kind of back in form with the new 208 and 308 hatchbacks, with GTI versions offering hints of that long-lost French hot hatch magic.
Launched in 2013, the latest generation 308 is now due for a mid-life facelift as it gets new styling, new entry-level engines and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The rest of us will be happy to know the 308 GTI remains part of the range.
The front has been upgraded everywhere with a new bonnet, grille, headlights and trim, plus a new bumper with bigger grille openings. The LEDs light up in Peugeot’s new light signature in the shape of a claw, to remind you of the massive lion badge in the middle. Inside, the car gets Android Auto and Apple Car Play support, a new 3D satellite navigation system, and a host of safety features such as active braking and assists for lane departure, cruise control, and parking in the form of cameras combined with automatic steering. Peugeot’s updated 308 will hit the roads from the end of summer in European markets first.